Take a close look, because the next generation of military binoculars could be doing more than just letting sailors and soldiers see from far away. The Navy now wants binoculars that can scan and recognize your face from 650 feet away.
That’s according to a Jan. 16 contract announcement from the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, which is seeking a “Wireless 3D Binocular Face Recognition System.” During a testing period of 15 months, the plan is to improve “stand-off identification of uncooperative subjects” during daylight, using binoculars equipped with scanners that can read your mug from “100 to 200 meters” away, or about 328 to 650 feet. After scanning your mug, the binoculars then transmit the data to a database over a wireless network, where the data is then analyzed to determine a person’s identity. The no-bid contract, for an unspecified amount of money, went to California biometrics firm StereoVision Imaging.
“High level, it’s a surveillance and identification system,” Greg Steinthal, StereoVision’s president, tells Danger Room. “It’s using the ubiquitous binocular for real-time identification. The data point here is that this is to be used to add objectivity to an operation that’s highly subjective. So this is not intended for kinetic action to go arrest or detain someone. It’s more a tool to put other eyes on him or her.”