A 21st Century Code Adam

By Evan Schuman  |  Posted 09-06-2006
Networked closed-circuit television cameras are doing a lot more in retail than catching shoplifters. The latest cameras can track how consumers react to specials and even digitally find abducted children.

With a system being piloted today by CVS and other large retail chains, a lost or abducted child has a lot more protection than from a mere Code Adam.

Code Adam, introduced in the mid-'90s, is a widely used retail program that shuts doors when there is a report of a missing child. But under the new system, a network of dozens of video cameras feeds a constant flow of digital data to security.

When a parent reports a missing child, the system can—within a few minutes—locate the video of when the parent and the child were last together and then show footage of exactly where the child went and with whom, even showing where the child is at that moment, assuming the child has not left the store. If the child had left, it would show when and could even track the child to the parking lot, possibly capturing a license plate and footage of a car.

The system—which is being tested, evaluated or considered by CVS, the Home Depot, JCPenney, Babies "R" Us, Macy's and Bloomingdales, among others—is from an MIT artificial intelligence research spin-off called Intellivid, based in nearby Cambridge, Mass.

Read the full story on eWEEK.com: A 21st Century Code Adam