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Published on March 28th, 2018 | by gareth

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Real Surveillance Technologies vs Those of the Movies

Between action thrillers, science fiction fantasies and dystopian stories, the silver screen isn’t lacking in films that cover surveillance technology. But how realistic are these pieces of technology in the present or are they still a long way off in the future? Let’s take a closer look at four surveillance technologies from the movies to find out.

Security Cameras in “Jason Bourne”

The “Bourne” franchise has graced the big screen with a ton of action, weapons and technology. In the latest installment, “Jason Bourne,” one of the most realistic and problematic pieces of technology centers around security cameras. Throughout the movie, the CIA tracks Bourne and Parsons around the world in real time with the help of Closed-Circuit Televisions (CCTVs). Lead analyist of Malwarebytes, Jerome Segura, tells Fast Company that this technology is realistic in that you can track people through security cameras. In fact, security camera systems have improved drastically in recent years, now allowing people to record in 4K and check in on their home security system remotely through a cell phone. However, Segura explains that the tracking in “Jason Bourne” falls short in that it’s unlikely to be able to follow someone from one camera to the next in real time. And, to make it a little more complicated, the CIA probably wouldn’t be able to access cameras from other countries without working with their government.

Retinal Scanners in “Minority Report”

Cellphones, computers and smart locks are slowly starting to roll out retinal scanners for biometric security in the real world. However, they aren’t even close to as prevalent or sophisticated as those in “Minority Report.” In this movie, retinal scanners are everywhere. You don’t see eye scanners outside of stores and buildings or in common spaces. And the technology definitely isn’t advanced enough to have spider-like eye-scanning robots that enable the police to track you everywhere you go. In the real world, it doesn’t seem like retinal scanners will get further than personal security that lets you unlock your phone or your front door.

Sonar Maps in “The Dark Knight”

Even though this is a superhero movie and you expect a level of ridiculously fantastic technology, the sonar maps in “The Dark Knight” aren’t completely implausible. Time explains that law enforcement can take control of the cameras and microphones on cellphones to gather information on suspects; however, not on the same scale as Batman. If you tried to spy on every person in a major city, you would overwhelm the grid or your system, making the information useless. This technology also is similar to the Internet of Things and being able to connect with all types of objects around you or connect with objects in your home or workplace. However, once again, you cannot connect to all of the objects within a major city without overloading the systems.

Surveillance technologies are rapidly advancing, from security cameras to the Internet of Things. The technology in action and science fiction movies no longer seems decades away or completely impossible. However, what these three movies, along with the many others that revolve around surveillance, show is that individuals, governments and society as a whole need to closely monitor the progress and use of this type of technology to make sure it doesn’t become more problematic than helpful.


About the Author

Syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. His work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site and publication “Skewed and Reviewed”. He has three books of film, game reviews and interviews published and is a well-received and in demand speaker on the convention circuit. Gareth has appeared in movies and is a regular guest on a top-rated Seattle morning show. He has also appeared briefly in films such as “Prefountaine”, “Postal”. “Far Cry”. and others. Gareth is also an in-demand speaker at several conventions and has conducted popular panels for over two decades.



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