• Kyodo

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An increasing variety of technologies such as artificial intelligence, drones and high-quality 4K video cameras are being introduced in the field of security amid a serious shortage of personnel in the field.

A virtual “AI guard” developed by major Japanese security firm Secom Co. was tested at Ogikubo Hospital in Tokyo in late October. An animated character displayed on an electric panel at the hospital entrance takes visitors’ temperatures and then welcomes those without fevers into the facility.

A virtual 'AI guard' displayed on an electric panel welcomes visitors to Ogikubo Hospital in Tokyo on Oct. 28. | KYODO
A virtual ‘AI guard’ displayed on an electric panel welcomes visitors to Ogikubo Hospital in Tokyo on Oct. 28. | KYODO

The character has been programmed to respond verbally to basic inquiries and can tell visitors where the bathrooms are located and what time their buses will arrive. It is also able to make eye contact with visitors and lean down when approached by children or people in wheelchairs.

A human guard is on standby at a separate location to monitor footage sent by the system’s camera and rush to the scene to respond to any trouble.

The hospital stations two to three employees at the facility’s entrance to conduct mandatory temperature checks and ensure visitors are wearing masks to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

After observing the system in action, the hospital’s administrative director, Hayato Kawamura, said, “We may be able to move at least one employee to take care of other work.”

Another major security firm, Sohgo Security Services Co., known as Alsok, has been considering adopting an AI system to identify potential shoplifters by analyzing suspicious behavior in security camera footage.

The system can also be used to notify security guards of potential health emergencies by alerting them if someone falls over. Guards can then rush to the scene with an automated external defibrillator (AED).

The security firm has also been setting up high-quality 4K cameras at places including Tokyo Skytree to test their ability to monitor the surrounding environment.

It is hoped the high-tech cameras with AI image recognition technology will be able to detect smoke rising from fires in distant areas as well as reckless drivers on the roads.

Meanwhile, a prison in Yamaguchi Prefecture has been utilizing drones equipped with cameras from Secom to patrol the premises, using GPS to fly designated routes.

Alsok is also testing drones that utilize AI cameras to avoid obstacles when flying in indoor areas that aren’t friendly to the use of GPS.

“4K, AI and 5G will become the three sacred treasures of security from now on,” said an official of Alsok, referring to the three ancient treasures of the Japanese imperial regalia. The official said 4K would serve as the eyes, AI as the brains, and 5G as the nerves.

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