We are used to surveillance cameras watching us these days. I think we are ok with it because we know it only matters if somebody is on the other end interpreting what they see. Perhaps our thinking is that maybe nobody is watching all those cameras all at once. Am I right?
I have been monitoring the trend in technology of computers beginning to be able to understand what they see and hear in the real world. Very accurate voice recognition along with very accurate computer vision will allow several different things to happen.
- Surveillance will become automatic.
- We will be able to talk to our computers in a natural way and they will understand us.
- The physical world will become digitized.
- Computers will become embedded in everything we do and use. Essentially we will exist in a “smart” physical substrate.
Here is the latest example of computers getting much better senses.
This is a video of some outstanding motion tracking technology. While tracking your hands is an obvious example of the technology, you can also track your facial expressions just as well. You can use it to see where a person is looking (on screen) and therefore gather a whole bunch of metrics.
The applications for education are widespread although some are good and some are bad. There will be this inevitable push to use this sort of technology to gather more information on students, to try to quantify the learning process. Sometimes this can be a good thing. If you show a video about a topic to a student you will be able to measure the reaction. Of course a good teacher can do this already in the classroom, but this technology will allow it to happen online as well. It will allow computer based teachers to gauge how a student is doing, to know when a break is needed or when to turn up the difficulty level.
Bottom line: we are all being watched. Soon we will also be understood and cataloged.