How Artificial Intelligence & Augmented Reality Can Benefit the Fire and Security Industry
The sheer amount of data that’s shared today is simply staggering. According to SIA Megatrends 2018, “Every minute, more than 400 hours of video are uploaded onto YouTube, 156 million e-mail messages sent and 3.8 million searches conducted on Google.” With so much data being shared in a society that’s constantly connected, new challenges arise when it comes to parsing through this data to determine what’s important. Not to say the video of the raccoon trying to wash its cotton candy isn’t important, but information regarding the safety of your building takes precedence. Thus, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) have become more prevalent tools in the fire and security space. The amount of data shared every day is only going to grow, so AI and AR technology must grow along with it.
Artificial intelligence spans a whole spectrum of uses. It’s the use of technology to perform tasks that would normally require human intervention. It can be used to simulate visual perception, speech recognition, decision making, and through machine learning, artificial intelligence is capable of correcting its own mistakes, meaning that it becomes more efficient without the need for regularly pushed updates or revisions. When presented with the task of sifting through an enormous amount of data, companies will often use artificial intelligence to take care of the problem for them.
Think about YouTube. With such a massive amount of content being uploaded to their platform every second, it’s a near impossible task to employ a team of people to wade through all the videos to ensure nothing inappropriate is slipping through the cracks. Thus, Google incorporates a machine learning algorithm that ‘watches’ the content being uploaded and denies anything that doesn’t meet their standards. This is not a perfect system, and has historically led to challenges for YouTube creators, but with a stage as large as YouTube’s, artificial intelligence – even in a relatively early state – is the best option.
Artificial intelligence is applicable to your business’ security as well. As Willem Ryan points out in his article, How Artificial Intelligence is Changing Video Surveillance Today, “…today there are too many cameras and too much recorded video for security operators to keep pace with…AI is a technology that doesn’t get bored and can analyze more video data than humans ever possibly could.” With modern AI technology, searching through recorded video becomes more akin to using a search engine online. If an incident were to occur at your building, artificial intelligence would make it easier to pinpoint the data using key descriptors – like the colour of a suspect’s clothing – rather than having to scrub through hours of footage hoping to find something. This is doubly important when you consider people’s declining attention span. How many times have you watched an entire episode of a television show only to realize that you haven’t retained anything because you’ve been looking at your phone? Artificial Intelligence doesn’t have this problem. With all the information being thrown at security personnel, they’re bound to miss something, but with the assistance of AI monitoring security footage, they’ll be alerted to the most important data, so they don’t miss a thing.
Because urgency is part of the job of a first responder, another emerging technology is going to become increasingly important. Augmented reality is something that we saw become commercially available with the (now somewhat defunct) Google Glass. Users would wear this device in the place of eye glasses and it would then overlay information like: Google Maps, Twitter, Facebook, etc. As a first attempt at consumer grade AR, it was novel, but its price and limited functionality resulted in its fall to the wayside. Since then, other companies have leaned harder into AR. Apple’s new iPhone X, XS, and XS Max all support apps that place animated characters or information on screen with the help of the devices’ cameras. The major downside with this level of augmented reality is that users are forced to hold their phone up during use breaking immersion. Microsoft has been working on their HoloLens, a bulkier yet more powerful device than Google Glass, but it’s still somewhat pricey for the average user at around $5000.00 for a non-developer-kit.
It’s easy to see how this technology could be used to benefit of a first-responder however. AR built into a firefighter’s headgear could show an unfamiliar building’s layout, the structure of the mass notification system, urgent communications etc. This information being piped into a first-responder’s visor would ensure that they’re not missing anything, and that they’ve got every tool they need to do their job effectively. Augmented reality may be a ways off in terms of wide commercial release, but it could be an invaluable tool to deliver important data with a level of immediacy we don’t currently see.
Artificial intelligence is already a key component of digesting information in a world where data is shared at a rate once thought impossible, and augmented reality is only going to become a more utilized method of displaying that data. Don’t worry, artificial intelligence and augmented reality’s increasing prevalence is not an indicator of Cyberdyne’s uprising. Instead, these technologies are going to be paramount in keeping our buildings, assets, and lives safe.