What a two years it’s been globally, with a virus rampaging through countries, debilitating and killing many en-route. These events are likely to be studied by future historians with classes in 2050 penning exam answers on why a virus was allowed to wreak such destruction.

Until then, this country remains divided, polarised even on the subject of lockdowns, social distancing and the effectiveness of masks. All BMS are remaining firmly neutral, on that fabled fence, but instead will focus, in this post on a new development from Maryland, USA.

Here, scientists are working on a robotic camera system that will, if it becomes operational tell people many things including:

  1. Whether social distancing guidelines are being adhered to – via thermal imaging
  2. To inform the ones transgressing to move apart
  3. To detect if someone is potentially ill

This may sound very futuristic and far-fetched, but it’s definitely being developed.

We can see, at All BMS, many uses for this in event management. The robotic devices could inform security of potential breaches of etiquette or, more likely, the robot(s) will approach people and display a message. This could be scaled back to general announcements about social distancing protocols.

What we like too is the artificial intelligence at play here. The machines are clever enough to recognise close contacts and not create any interventions. A family group, for example, would not be approached for a distancing breach as it would realise that they are in a close contact bubble.

The data that is collected could also be used for contact tracing.

There’s little doubt that some will object to this level of surveillance but many already know that we are being watched and listened to 24/7. We’ve all had, surely, the meal time conversations about a holiday, new windows or carpets, only to miraculously find that emails and social media adverts suddenly appear for holidays, carpets and windows. Well we have. Have you?

Devices using Siri, Google and Alexa listen to what we talk about and internet / social media channels crawl over our search history to sell relevant products and services to us.

CCTV is ubiquitous in towns, cities, businesses and homes now. We can even see who is at the door via video and monitor internal and external activity. Robotic CCTV seems to be an extension of this?

Some will argue that George Orwell was right:

“Always eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, indoors or out of doors, in the bath or bed—no escape. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimeters in your skull.”

Others may come down on the side of science:

“There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance.” – Hippocrates

Do you think we will see robots for social distancing and contact tracing or it is a fantasy?

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