Cops’ Startup Uses Facial Recognition To Improve Security

By David Nicklaus
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Three current and former police officers are piloting a facial recognition system which may very help prevent those crimes they are often tasked with investigating.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

At one MotoMart, you can’t enter at night unless you look into the camera.

If your face is obscured by a mask, face or hood, the door stays locked. If the camera gets a good look at you, it lets you in.

The MotoMart, on Riverview Drive just north of Interstate 270, is piloting a facial recognition system designed by a trio of current and former police officers who decided they’d rather prevent crimes than investigate them.

Their company, Blue Line Technology, has installed cameras with its software at several places around town, including Spire’s corporate headquarters, St. Mary’s High School and another convenience store on Hampton Avenue.

They’ve also reached a distribution agreement with electronics wholesaler Anixter International and are getting attention from a few national and regional retailers. Blue Line has hopes of selling between 300 and 400 systems this year, which the company says would be enough to turn a profit.

From there, the sky’s the limit. Tech giants including Apple, Facebook and Google are in the facial-recognition business, but the founders of Blue Line say their security focus and their patent-pending software, which can process an image and match it to a database in a split- second, should provide a lucrative niche.

Blue Line has come a long way from the primitive system that one of the founders, St. Louis Police Sgt. Marcos Silva, built in his house.

The company, founded in 2013, won a $50,000 Arch Grant in 2014. With the grant came access to various mentors and advisers, who helped the founders understand their shortcomings.

“I didn’t know what an IP [internet protocol] address was when we started this,” says co-founder Tom Sawyer, a veteran of the city police and federal Drug Enforcement Agency. “Now I can at least hold a conversation about technology and not sound like a 21-year policeman.”

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