Virtual Border Patrol
According to an Arizona News 13 article, UA has created an Automated Virtual Agent for Truth Assessments in Real-Time (AVATAR). This new security measure is supposed to detect what current border patrols might miss such as dilating pupils.
Doug Derrick, a researcher on the project, believes that the goal of this technology is not to replace agents but to give them another tool. He states, “Agents at the border have to make rapid decisions about people’s credibility so they have [a] limited amount of time with large traffic”
The Avatar kiosk looks similar to an ATM machine and has a high definition camera that can capture facial expressions of emotion, infrared sensors to detect eye movement and dilation, and a microphone to pick up what is said and how it is being said. People can just walk up to the kiosk and begin the questioning process.
This lie detecting AVATAR is aimed at aiding border agents in weeding out people who have something to hide.
Another News 13 article about Avatar gave examples of questions that AVATAR might ask. Some questions are as simple as, “How do you feel about passing through this checkpoint?” or “Please let me know how you spent the last few hours before coming to this checkpoint.”
The project is part of the Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence in Border Security and Immigration at the University of Arizona. It is still in its testing phase and the avatar will not hit the border check points for awhile.
Researcher Doug Derrick goes on to state that, “We all think we’re good at it, over confident in our ability to do it [controlling deception cues] but we are pretty bad at it.”