- TORONTO (Reuters) -- New
Internet-based technology could soon turn regular computer users into armchair
spies, a Canadian inventor said on Monday.
- Vincent Tao, an engineer at Toronto's York University
said he has invented a mapping and surveillance tool called SAME (see anywhere,
map anywhere), that produces images so sharp that geographic co-ordinates
typed into a Web site can reveal the make of a car parked on the street.
- Tao said SAME works by taking satellite images of the
Earth and combining them with real-time remote sensors that monitor traffic
- The information is reformatted on a searchable Web site
that can capture ground-level images of the Earth with little or no time
- The resolution is 2 feet -- fine enough to determine
the make of a car, though not the details of a human face, according to
- "This is real-time streaming technology. It's like
(the online directory) MapQuest or the navigation system in your car, but
three-dimensional," he said in an interview on Monday.
- "You'll see a globe, like a virtual Earth, and then
you can fly in from outer space and zoom all the way in to a city and even
to street level, which will be updated by very nice, high-resolution imagery."
- Tao said the potential applications are broad, including
defense, emergency response and environmental monitoring. He added that
the technology could become widely available as early as next year.
- "Our business model is looking at how to make this
- But the technology also poses concerns, said Veera Rastogi,
a lawyer specializing in privacy issues with the Canadian law firm Blake,
Cassels & Graydon LLP.
- "Any surveillance-based technology like this gives
rise to the potential for abuse," she said.
- "Right now it's a tool used by the Red Cross and
defense, but, down the road, in whose hands would this technology fall
and for what purpose? Bottom line is, it's a case where, these days, the
technology seems to be outrunning the law," Rastogi said.
- Cindy Cowan, the director of a Toronto shelter for battered
women, echoed Rastogi's concerns, saying the technology could put women
at greater risk of abuse.
- "Already the Internet has become a place where women
are stalked, so to give another tool to abusive men motivated to find and
track and stalk -- it frightens me," she said.
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