From live video feeds delivered to an AR headset to location maps with integrated 3D models, augmented reality is ready to rehaul legacy security systems.
You’ve seen it in movies many times: a hapless security guard in a room full of small black-and-white screens that stream video from CCTV cameras outside. Somehow, the criminal always manages to sneak by without getting seen. The guard manages to just barely detect movement on one of the screens – only to find the perpetrator standing right behind him.
Traditional surveillance techniques are incredibly outdated. Sure, CCTV cameras are becoming more advanced: they have crazy optical zooms, can rotate 360 degrees, can read car number plates, and can even see colors in the dark. The problem is that the way security personnel process the footage has hardly changed in decades. In essence, you just watch the video and try to understand what’s going on.
How can this be fixed? Well, since you’re reading a blog about augmented reality, you can already guess that AR is the solution. Indeed it is – in more ways than one.
Put your smart glasses on
If you’ve been following our blog, you know that here at ARzilla, we are not very big on AR glasses. We think they’re too clunky and expensive for ordinary consumer experiences and that it’s better to view AR content on a smartphone screen through WebAR. But we’ll make an exception for professional security personnel: they can really benefit from an AR headset.
Imagine this: you put on smart glasses like Hololens, and you see in front of you the video stream from a surveillance camera outside. With a simple movement of your head or eyes, you can make the camera more horizontally (pan), vertically (tilt), or zoom in and out. (By the way, such cameras are even called PTZ – Pan, Tilt & Zoom.) You can just as easily switch from one camera to another.
See a dodgy guy approach the house? Switch from a camera on the street to one above the porch to get a good look at his face (and take a picture). If you’re using an advanced super-zoom camera like Aqueti’s 100-megapixel Mantis, you won’t even need a camera on the street: you can zoom in from hundreds of feet away and see the perp’s face in detail.
Has the suspect turned a corner? No problem: switch to another CCTV device so that you can follow him as he carries on with his murky business. But if nothing interesting is happening, you can always turn off the video stream and look through your AR glasses as if they were just transparent glass.
If the video streams are delivered to your AR glasses, there’s no need for you to sit in an office anymore. In fact, augmented reality could put an end entirely to security rooms with rows of little screens. You can be out there on the ground, completely mobile and ready to react.
Needless to say, the same data can also be streamed to any number of personnel: on-site security guards, agents at a central security operations center, and even police, when necessary.
And let’s not forget that a security alert isn’t necessarily always a dodgy guy fidgeting with a lock. It can also be a fire, a boiler threatening to burst, strange smoke, or any other sign of an accident ready to happen. In this case, you can instantly notify the maintenance team so that they can come and fix things.
However, delivering streaming video to your headset and controlling cameras is only a little part of what AR can do for security. The really interesting part is overlaying information above the video.
The real game-changer: AR tags
Right now, agents in security offices do have detailed location maps, but they aren’t integrated with the video stream. You have to look at the video and then scour the map, call the on-site security guard, and explain to them where to go.
The personnel on the ground don’t have maps and must rely on whatever you tell them, like “It’s that blue shed behind the big tree to the right of the supermarket.” The job becomes even harder if you work at an airport or big shopping mall with hundreds of venues on different floors.
An AR-enabled map can be a real lifesaver here. You can attach an augmented reality tag to just about anything: a surveillance camera, a shop, an emergency exit, a technical installation, or even a person. When you look at a tagged item through your AR glasses or a smartphone, it displays whatever data is attached to the tag. This can be text, images, or even a maintenance manual.
You can switch from one tag to another using eye movements, gestures, or an integrated tablet. We’ve already mentioned that you can choose any surveillance device you want to watch the video. But you could also pick another security guard or a police officer to talk to on the intercom, for example, or even get directions, for example:
Is X-ray vision in the cards?
Some experts say that augmented reality will give security personnel “x-ray vision.” Don’t worry, they won’t be able to see through your clothes or anything like that – but they will be able to see through walls. Think of it this way: you’re looking at a blank wall, but the AR map shows you a security camera in the room behind it. You switch to the camera – and see everything that’s going on there.
Of course, even security professionals aren’t busy protecting life and property all the time. In your free moments, you might just sit back, switch your AR glasses to an eatery nearby, and browse through the 3D models on the menu. And if you like what you see, why not invite your favorite colleague for lunch there? Augmented reality can do much more than just enhance surveillance, after all.
Are you thinking about integrating AR into your business to grow leads and sales? Then drop us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d be happy to share our ideas!