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Computer science researchers have developed a new technology that allows public cameras to send personalized messages to people without compromising their privacy. The real-time end-to-end system called PHADE was developed by a team from Purdue University. It allows for “private human addressing,” where camera systems and individual cell phones can communicate without transmitting any personal data, like an IP or Mac address. The technology relies on motion patterns for the address code. That way, even if a hacker intercepts it, they won’t be able to access the person’s physical location.

The researchers believe the technology has a role in protecting pedestrians from crime in their area. “Our system serves as a bridge to connect surveillance cameras and people,” He Wang, a co-creator of the technology and assistant professor of computer science, said in a statement. “[It can] be used by government agencies to enhance public safety [by deploying] cameras in high-crime or high-accident areas and warn[ing] specific users about potential threats, such as suspicious followers.”

The PHADE system works using a server to receive video streams from cameras to track people. The camera builds a packet by linking a message to the address code and broadcasts the packet. Upon receiving the packet, a mobile device of each of the targets uses sensors to extract its owner’s behavior and follow the same transformation to derive a second address code. If the second address code matches with the address code in the message, the mobile device automatically delivers the message to its owner, reports eurekalert.org.

The technology can also be applied in venues such as museums, when standing in front of a painting can bring about vocal instructions. The researchers used an approach similar to the kind of directional audio experience you might find at theme parks. Through processing the live video data, the technology is able to identify the individual motion patterns of pedestrians and when they are within a pertinent range — say, in front of a painting, according to techcrucnh.com.