Why is DHS/NSA interested in Xbox Kinect?


Federal agencies (read DHS/NSA) have been leveraging the Kinect 3-D motion-sensing, facial and voice recognition technologies that power the Xbox One for security purposes.

The use of Xbox Kinect in the homeland security arena may come as a surprise to many, but not to Barrow. “We integrate many of our consumer products today with our more enterprise technologies,” he said. “And everything is on the same Windows 8 platform. If you think about how Xbox works, there’s just a lot of ways to use that technology that are not just fun and games.”  

“They’re using it to look for threats,” said Greg Myers, vice president of Microsoft Federal. Although he mentioned improvised explosive devices, Myers declined to provide additional details or other specific examples, citing security and customer confidentiality concerns.

Microsoft’s Kinect is the sensing technology that allows gamers to use their bodies and body motions as the game controller. The company re-engineered Kinect for the Xbox One to be more responsive and precise.

Information about the use of the Xbox’s Kinect motion-sensing and optical technologies is scarce in the U.S. But in Singapore, the government is promoting multiple proof-of-concept studies that show just how powerful the Xbox Kinect system is in a public safety and homeland security context.

One area in which the advanced sensors and infrared systems of Kinect have shown great promise is in detecting illegal border crossings, said Joan Liu, information systems officer for the Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs.

In a presentation posted on the Microsoft public safety and national security website, Liu offers a detailed look at the tests her government conducted using Kinect. In one example, Liu shows how a standard optical camera detects a black blob on the back of a motorcycle that looks like nothing more than a backpack in the final image. Using the Kinect depth sensors, however, evaluators were able to easily discern a human figure trying to blend in with the driver’s form in order to avoid detection.

The main hardware components of the Kinect system are a video camera, a monochrome sensor, an infrared projector/sensor and a multiarray microphone. Add to this some sophisticated software behind the scenes and the Kinect is able to determine an object’s depth (distance from camera to subject) to within 1 centimeter and its height and width to within 3 millimeters.

The new active infrared capabilities allow the new sensor to work in nearly any lighting condition. “This will offer developers better built-in recognition capabilities in different real-world settings—independent of the lighting conditions—including the sensor’s ability to recognize facial features, hand position and more,” wrote Bob Heddle, director of Kinect for Windows, in a blog posting in May.“We find that problems with 2-D optical cameras can be mitigated using Kinect’s 3-D sensor,” Liu said. “This is just the beginning of what is possible.”

And there are, in fact, other areas of security where research and development into the potential uses of Kinect are likely, Liu said. One such area is perimeter protection using Kinect technology to produce virtual fences and leveraging its ability to obtain high-contrast images in low light conditions. Another is being able to detect dangerous actions, such as a person pointing a weapon.

Google wants to spy on our thermostats:

Google is testing web-connected thermostats that let users view home energy activity, and make adjustments. If that sounds familiar, it’s because Google attempted something similar a few years ago called PowerMeter, a web dashboard that tracked an entire home’s energy use. The program was killed off in mid-2011, with Google citing difficulties scaling it up. However the original mission statement for the effort, and what Google reiterated when killing off PowerMeter, was that people could trim energy use by 15 percent if they could see what was happening.

This might be a better time for such a service, as indicated by a rising wave of connected home appliances. That includes Nest, which began with thermostats and has since moved onto smoke detectors. It’s joined by a host of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-connected appliances that can pipe information to the cloud, from refrigerators to web cameras. For Google, and others, those devices represent a possible wealth of data. Don’t get excited about the premise of a Nexus thermostat, though: The Information reports that Google would source devices from Ecobee, which makes its own line of smart thermostats.

Former Top NSA Official Bill Binney : “We Are Now In A Police State”

Bill Binney is the high-level NSA executive who created the agency’s mass surveillance program for digital information. A 32-year NSA veteran widely regarded as a “legend” within the agency, Binney was the senior technical director within the agency and managed thousands of NSA employees.

Last year, Binney held his thumb and forefinger close together, and said:

We are, like, that far from a turnkey totalitarian state.

But today, Binney told Washington’s Blog that the U.S. has already become a police state.

Search warrants can now be based on a ‘PREDICTION OF FUTURE CRIME’!

U.S. govt. using the NSA to change balances in bank accounts and manipulate financial systems!

Our government is spying on virtually everything we do.

All of the information gained by the NSA through spying is then shared with federal, state and local agencies, and they are using that information to prosecute petty crimes such as drugs and taxes. The agencies are instructed to intentionally “launder” the information gained through spying, i.e. to pretend that they got the information in a more legitimate way … and to hide that from defense attorneys and judges.

This is a bigger deal than you may realize, as legal experts say that there are so many federal and state laws in the United States, that no one can keep track of them all … and everyone violates laws every day without even knowing it.

The NSA also ships Americans’ most confidential, sensitive information to foreign countries like Israel(and here), the UK and other countries … so they can “unmask” the information and give it back to the NSA … or use it for their own purposes.

Binney told us today:

The main use of the collection from these NSA spying programs is for law enforcement. [See the 2 slides below].

These slides give the policy of the DOJ/FBI/DEA etc. on how to use the NSA data. In fact, they instruct that none of the NSA data is referred to in courts – cause it has been acquired without a warrant.

So, they have to do a “Parallel Construction” and not tell the courts or prosecution or defense the original data used to arrest people. This I call: a “planned programed perjury policy” directed by US law enforcement.

And, as the last line on one slide says, this also applies to “Foreign Counterparts.”

This is a total corruption of the justice system not only in our country but around the world. The source of the info is at the bottom of each slide. This is a totalitarian process – means we are now in a police state.

Here are the two slides which Binney pointed us to:


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