Emerging Border Security Technologies
Two emerging border security technologies that are in the early development stage include the Augmented Reality Sandtable (ARES) and Vehicle Facial System.
1. AUGMENTED REALITY SANDTABLE (ARES)
WHAT IT IS
- R&D for ARES was initially funded by the US Army and was scouted and repurposed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) for the DHS.
- It was developed as an "interactive digital sand table that uses augmented reality (AR) and/or virtual reality (VR) technology to create a 3D map of any given terrain."
- The technology displays the topographical map of the desired environment on sand prepared in a large sandbox, on the floor, or in a VR or AR environment, using a projector. Changes to the sand projection such as shifting or the layout of the sand made by the user are tracked using a motion sensor. The sensor then adjusts the computer-generated terrain to match the physical sand.
- The capabilities of this technology include "projecting outsourced images, videos, and maps onto the sand, exporting user-shaped sand into a 3D terrain, placement and labeling of units, and assisted terrain correlation."
- It can be used as a standard interface device such as a keyboard or mouse. It enables hand/gesture tracking, video teleconference, AR peripherals, which allows the display of layers of data through AR goggles or apps on a tablet.
- Other capabilities include the display of terrain features and contour lines to mimic topographical maps and the dynamic display of a unit's line of sight.
WHAT IT WILL BE USED FOR
- Using this technology, the USBP will have the ability to "dynamically create terrain for a specific area of interest, visualize lines of sight, and overlay different types of maps to create a 3-D hologram."
- The floor-projected version of ARES could be used to brief larger groups, while a VR version could be used for individuals.
- Moreso, these variations could be combined to coordinate operation exercises in different locations.
- "In some cases, VR versions of ARES are being transitioned to remote locations where staff are not able to access a physical sand table or floor projection. S&T is also exploring other potential uses of the ARES technology in wildland firefighting, evacuation planning, and execution as well as search and rescue and emergency management operations."
2. VEHICLE FACIAL SYSTEM
WHAT IT IS
- The DHS is testing a new facial recognition technology called the Vehicle Facial System. The system comprises sophisticated cameras that work in multiple focal lengths and are equipped with "ambient light sensors, range finders, and remote speedometers."
- The system will capture the images of people coming to and leaving the US while matching the data obtained with official documents such as visas and passports. It would do this without requiring the subjects to step out of their vehicles.
- The system will make use of light sensors to reduce the glass barrier of the vehicles, and it uses a "ray-tracing algorithm" that allows it to capture the iris of people.
- The multiple focal lengths on which the cameras operate would enable them to distinguish between a person and their reflection. They can also capture people's faces accurately when they are putting on a cap or looking away from the camera.
WHAT IT WILL BE USED FOR
- The purpose of the Vehicle Facial System would be used to "evaluate the captured facial biometrics of travelers entering and departing the US and compare those images to photos on file in government holdings."
- Customs and Border Patrol (CBS) aims to use this technology to reduce traffic delays significantly, as fewer cars would have to stop at border crossings.
- It is a means for the federal government to track people.
We obtained the emerging border security technologies from the US Department of Homeland Security's website and Daily Mail. However, to accurately describe the capabilities of the ARES technology, we utilized a 2015 report by the US Army Research Laboratory. Although this source is beyond Wonder's standard two-year time frame, we included it because the US Army initially funded the research. As such, their report provided the most detailed description of its capabilities. However, this technology was repurposed by DHS S&T for border security.