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"Private" Surveillance

Laser-Based Device Offers Alternative to Video Surveillance

The Laser-Based Item Monitoring System (LBIMS), developed by researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, balances the need for high-resolution monitoring and personal safety with confidentiality and personal privacy. Using low-cost reflective tags placed on objects, LBIMS maps the precise location of high-value items. The laser can scan many points per second and can detect small changes -- less than a centimeter -- in the reflected signal, meaning tampering can be detected immediately.

The precision of the system is made possible by a high-resolution, two-axis laser scanner capable of looking at a 60-degree field of view in 0.0005-degree increments, dividing the field of view into more than 10 billion individual pointing locations. A camera with comparable resolution over the same field of view would require a 10,000-megapixel detector.

Existing light detection and ranging (lidar) systems, which use scattered light, are optimized for detecting human-sized objects. Another competing technology is bar codes and radio frequency identification. In addition to being susceptible to jamming, the bar code reader or RFID antenna must be within a few centimeters of the tagged object.

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