By Daisy Luther

Landing AI has created a new tool to help keep people “safe” by spying on them with a camera that measures whether or not they’re properly participating in social distancing. Because who needs privacy when there’s a deadly virus around, right?

Landing AI’s blog says:

To complement our customers’ efforts and to help ensure social distancing protocol in their workplace, Landing AI has developed an AI-enabled social distancing detection tool that can detect if people are keeping a safe distance from each other by analyzing real time video streams from the camera.

For example, at a factory that produces protective equipment, technicians could integrate this software into their security camera systems to monitor the working environment with easy calibration steps. As the demo shows below, the detector could highlight people whose distance is below the minimum acceptable distance in red, and draw a line between to emphasize this. The system will also be able to issue an alert to remind people to keep a safe distance if the protocol is violated.

As part of an ongoing effort to keep our customers and others safe, and understanding that the only way through this is with global collaboration, we wanted to share the technical methodology we used to develop this software. (source)

Watching life go on through the eyes of an artificial intelligence device has a certain sense of dystopia. The technology highlights “people whose distance is below the minimum acceptable distance in red, and draw a line between to emphasize this.”

What will they do to enforce it? Make people wear shock collars that will give them a little zap when they get to close to a fellow human being? Deploy a drone to give them a verbal warning? Dispatch a human being to get within six feet and threaten them with arrest, resulting in even more contact?

Landing AI doesn’t mention that. Instead, they conclude cheerfully:

As medical experts point out, until a vaccine becomes available, social distancing is our best tool to help mitigate the coronavirus pandemic and as we open up the economy. Our goal with creating this tool and sharing it at such an early stage, is to help our customers and to encourage others to explore new ideas to keep us safe. (source)

AI in the workplace

Landing AI is a company out of California that will work “closely with you to empower your company to become an AI-driven organization” and they hope to “influence the emerging AI generation.”

Some workplaces may be launching AI technology in the age of social distancing.

One potential use touted for the technology is that it would enable workplaces to monitor their employees to make sure they are operating within the advised distance of each other. It’s even able to issue alerts to remind them to re-establish that distance if they break the rules.

The system works by using an artificial ‘neural network’ that detects individuals and draws a box around them. If two boxes come too close to each other, they are highlighted in red.

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