Elements, Motion and the Void

I just spent few hours at my new favorite place - the Mall. 

Haha! Just kidding. The Mall is still a vanilla-scented descent into hell, but it had the one thing I really need right now: lots of warm bodies walking around.

The seasonal cold snap has settled in hard, just in time for the holidays, and I needed some source data to help calibrate this algorithm. It's way to cold to sit out on an actual street corner for a couple hours, so to the Mall I went!

Actually, for the sake of this project, it's about perfect. Lots of different people, singly and in groups walking past, plus, different clothing styles that display different thermal signatures. 

The best part was about an hour in when Rusty the Trusty Mall Cop showed up and gave me the ol' hairy eyeball, probably because I had the FLIR lepton unit hot-glued to a piece of cardboard with wires and LEDs.

(Side note- it probably says a lot about America these days that a chunk of cardboard with wires triggers a "it's a bomb!" reaction in people. Because, you know, actual bombers side in front of the Mrs. Fields Cookie Store with a cardboard box covered in wires. FFS, people. Next time, I'll get a sharpie and write "Not A baum or Esploshun" on the side.)

"What's that, ya got there?" he asked, fondling his walkie-talkie. I did my best to explain the virtues of thermal imaging, Science!, and the importance of technological innovation, but I'm not sure it sank in. Somewhere between "absolute vs. relative radiometric thermal sensing" and "average decay time for the histogram mean" he lost interest and wandered away to go hassle somebody else.

Anyway, it was a good session - as you can see from the video, the Lepton feed can be processed (using the OpenCV python library) into a lot of different forms. I'm currently using the output to determine how many warm bodies in the the frame, and how many faces pointed toward the lens of the camera. 

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The other thing that I like about this rig, is that you can capture traffic data without going all the way to full video. I think the future is going to be full of active and passive surveillance tech, and if we have to pick a standard, I'd like to argue for the one that preserves some level of privacy. More on that soon.