Coming Soon: “Terminator Vision” Headset for Law Enforcement

February 22nd, 2013

Science fiction movies often introduce ideas that are later produced by science. After all, science fiction writers spend a lot of time dreaming up technological gadgets for their heroes and villains to use. In the Terminator movie series, cyborg assassins were equipped with built-in technology that allowed them to see in infrared. In addition, their eyes could access software that provided a heads-up display full of useful information about objects and individuals in their field of vision.

As it happens, Kopin Corporation and Google are both racing to bring this technology to life. Google’s Project Glass looks to develop a smartphone-like pair of glasses for everyday consumers, where the user’s field of vision is the heads-up display, and voice commands are the method for interfacing with the device. Kopin Corporation, on the other hand, is developing an alternative called “Golden-i” for law enforcement officers.

The Capabilities of Golden-i

Much like the inner-eye heads-up displays in science fiction movies, Golden-i will provide infrared vision. It will include a high definition camera which can record photos and videos. Officers wearing the device will have access to biometric data on individuals in view, including vital signs. Additionally, users will be able to pull up floor plans of buildings, see through walls, communicate with colleagues, sense motion, identify people using facial recognition technology, and scan license plates instantly.

Golden-i is not just for law enforcement agencies, as software applications are being developed for it which would allow its capabilities to be applied to other types of workplaces. For example, a software application for firefighters has been developed.

The Privacy Issues Surrounding Golden-i

Golden-i itself is not necessarily a threat to civil liberties. Without unconstitutional access to data, law enforcement officers would have a hard time violating rights with the device. As long as their access to floor plans, biometric data, and other information remains limited to situations in which the officer has probable cause or a warrant signed by a judge, then these goggles may actually benefit taxpayers and police employees alike. After all, the video feed from the goggles could be used to monitor the activity of officers while they’re on the job, ensuring better performance.

However, the US government is currently compiling untold volumes of unconstitutional data on citizens. Officers should not be given the power to access private information about people without a warrant or probable cause. In the hands of a corrupt bureaucrat, such a device could be used to antagonize individuals for arbitrary reasons.

In reality, Golden-i will probably become a privacy issue, at least at first, because the trend in government at the moment is to ignore citizens’ privacy concerns. However, if supervisors of law enforcement officers could have non-stop streaming access to the fields of vision of police employees on the beat, then it would be much more difficult for a corrupt cop to get away with overt crimes.

For the rest of us, Google’s Project Glass is on the way. Soon, we’ll all have Terminator vision.

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About the Author: Barry Donegan

is a singer for the experimental mathcore band , a writer, a self-described "veteran lifer in the counterculture", a political activist/consultant, and a believer in the non-aggression principle.