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The world of automated surveillance is booming, with new machine learning techniques giving CCTV cameras the ability to spot troubling behaviour without human supervision.

Sooner or later, this tech will be coming to a store near you, as illustrated by a new security camera that was built by Japanese telecom giant NTT East and startup Earth Eyes Corp.

The security camera is called the "AI Guardman" and is designed in order to assist shop owners in Japan to spot potential shoplifters. The AI surveillance camera uses open source technology developed by Carnegie Mellon University to scan live video streams and estimate the poses of any bodies it can see. The system then tries to match this pose data to predefined 'suspicious; behaviour. If it sees something noteworthy, it alerts shopkeepers via a connected app.

A demo video of the prototype version of the technology published by Earth Eyes gives a good overview of how it works. 

AI Guardman has been under development for at least a few years, but last month NTT East and Earth Eyes shared the results of some early trials with the camera. New deep learning techniques have enabled companies like NTT East and Earth Eyes to analyze video footage more quickly and cheaply than ever before, and a larger number of other companies in Japan, America, and China are developing products with similar capabilities.

Similar features are also making their way into home security cameras, with companies like Amazon and Nest offering rudimentary AI analysis, like spotting the difference between pets and people.

AI Guardman is notable, as a product with an advanced feature that customers will be able to buy, plug in, and start running without too much delay. Yet, the next time you walk past a CCTV camera, your concern won't be who is watching you, but what.

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