If there’s one job on CSI that doesn’t look like much fun (besides boiling the flesh off human heads), it’s having to watch hours upon hours of surveillance camera footage in the hopes of seeing some kind of clue. In real life, footage sometimes ends up going unwatched because there are simply not enough man-hours in which to do it. Even when there is, studies have shown that viewers’ attention starts to decline within 20 minutes when watching such videos. Fortunately, new software developed at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem can help with this problem.
Designed by Prof. Shmuel Peleg of the university’s Benin School of Computer Science and Engineering, the software creates a sort of highlights reel, condensing all the pertinent images from several hours of tape into as little as a few minutes. It does this by being able to distinguish between static background scenery and moving objects, also known as events.
The system starts by discarding all the unmoving footage. When it presents the events, it does so via a split screen, so analysts can watch several of them at once. If they want to revert to the original footage, perhaps to get a sense of context for a specific event, they are still able to do so.
Of course, the software might not be too useful when it comes to constantly-moving footage. That said, given recent advances in video cameras that are aware of content and context, perhaps there could come a time where users could stipulate something like “Show only cargo vans.”
Peleg’s invention recently won an award for innovation presented by the Hebrew University, and has been licensed to an Israeli startup company, BriefCam Ltd.