High-resolution, low-cost cameras are proliferating, found in everyday products like smart phones and laptop computers. The cost of storing images is dropping, and new software algorithms for mining, matching and scrutinizing the flood of visual data are progressing swiftly.
A computer-vision system can watch a hospital room and remind doctors and nurses to wash their hands, or warn of restless patients who are in danger of falling out of bed. It can, through a computer-equipped mirror, read a man's face to detect his heart rate and other vital signs.
It can analyze a woman's expressions as she watches a movie trailer or shops online and help marketers tailor their offerings accordingly.
Computer vision can also be used at shopping malls, schoolyards, subway platforms, office complexes and stadiums.
All of which could be helpful -- or alarming.
Computers are watching us, and we're amazed and alarmed