Video Games And Security: Kinect Is Montitoring The Korean Border
When the Xbox One was first announced, a lot of folks raised concerns about one feature in particular: the on-board camera, which was originally designed to never turn off. While Microsoft likely intended the camera for something completely innocent (turning the system on whenever someone it recognized approached); it was entirely understandable that most users expressed a little bit of concern about their personal privacy. Kinect, after all, is a powerful peripheral...so powerful, in fact, that one inventor and self-taught programmer has adapted it as a monitoring device for the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.
The Korean Demilitarized Zone is known to be the most heavily armed border on Earth, and probably one of the best known, to boot. This locale has played host to a wide range of incidents since the armistice, from the severe (armed spies, defectors from the North being shot) to the distressing (North Korean Incursion tunnels being discovered beneath the wall), to the downright absurd(South Korea's K-Pop-driven psychological warfare campaign). It's not terribly surprising that this place is such a hotbed, truth be told: officially, the Korean war never ended.
In essence, the two countries still hate each other pretty thoroughly, and the DMZ could very likely just be a powder-keg waiting to happen. Anyway, there's your uplifting thought for the day; we're getting a bit off track.
We're here to talk about the latest addition to South Korea's security systems. Self-taught Korean programmer Jae Kwan Ko decided back in August that he wanted to put his Kinect to better use than playing (mostly) crappy motion games. Instead, Ko figured the technology behind Kinect could give the soldiers on the wall a much-needed edge over would-be infiltrators. Armed with only his wits (and a Kinect, presumably), he adapted the gaming peripheral into a legitimate security system.
Apparently, the government liked what it saw, because it installed the new system in secret, and only just unveiled it today - almost five months after initial development. Now, while we don't really have a great many intimate details about how the system works (national security, and all that), we do know that it's capable of discerning the difference between humans and animals, issuing an alert if it detects the former.
"I've never even thought of a game system performing national defense tasks," Ko mused in an interview with Hankooki(not translated). That...sort of makes two of us, I guess? In the future, Ko hopes to further upgrade the system's capabilities, equipping it with the ability to detect both heart rate and body heat. Likely as not, he's going to be adding the Kinect 2.0 to the system, replacing older models with the newer ones. Again, though...this is all conjecture. No one but Ko (and whoever's installing the system) really understands how it works.
Either way, the border's going to wind up with some pretty high-tech security; stuff which will undoubtedly be a cut above whatever their Northern cousins can hope to muster.
The Korean DMZ is the most heavily-armed borders in the world, and very likely among the most hostile, as well. For decades now, the North and South have set themselves at either end of the peninsula, making angry eyes across the no-man's land in between. Now, the job of the soldiers manning the South Wall is about to get a lot easier...and it's all thanks to video games. Who saw that one coming?
No, seriously. Did anyone actually see that coming? I'm kind of floored by the news. I guess video games have gotten bigger than I thought, no?