A “No Trespassing” Sign For Geeks

By on September 23, 2005

A while back we talked about the LiveShot.com thing, where an outfit set up a gun with a webcam to let people hunt live game remotely via the Internet. Then last week I read something about a guy who built a similar gadget for about $200-worth of spare parts that lets Internet users plink pop cans & other odds n’ ends with an Airsoft pellet pistol. Yesterday I heard about someone who is putting a new twist on all that; an automatic armed sentry using a webcam, a PC and a BB-gun.

The thing is controlled by assorted software parts, both off the shelf and home-built, and is capable of differentiating between a bipedal intruder and the household cat or dog. Once it determines what it is seeing it’ll take aim at the heart of the intruder and deliver a verbal warning. If the intruder sticks around too long it starts shooting. I’m guessing that there is some sort of verbal response that the thing looks for to stand down — how else would an authorized person get by the thing?

The guy who built it has been using his little brother as a guinea pig to fine tune the system. Thus far it’s only armed with a BB gun, but a device like this could just as easily make use of something with a much heavier punch. It’d be just the ticket for someone who is fleeing an oncoming hurricane or other natural disaster & wants to keep looters at bay. But it’s kinda scary thinking of something like this with no real intelligence behind it to determine whether to fire or not. And then there is the all-too-real possibility of a hardware or software malfunction (pray that he’s not running it on Windows!) that could cause it to shoot first & ask questions later.

I heard about this on a radio show yesterday, but cannot find anything online about it. If you’ve seen something about this somewhere on the ‘net, please post a link.

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