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FOREnsic evidence gathering autonomous seNSOR

FOREnsic evidence gathering autonomous seNSOR

English EN

Smart sensor-based cameras for forensic evidence gathering

Video surveillance is increasingly popular within Law enforcement agencies (LEAs). But although device sophistication has reached an all-time high, state-of-the-art technology is still expensive, energy-greedy and difficult to set up. Conscious of these problems, the FORENSOR team has been working on a new generation of evidence-gathering, autonomous sensors.


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Things have been moving fast since 2005. At the time, members of the FORENSOR (FOREnsic evidence gathering autonomous sensor) consortium were faced with a lack of surveillance technology targeting forensic applications. Now, Lazaros Gymnopoulos, research assistant at Hellas and coordinator of FORENSOR, speaks of a dramatic increase in the availability of equipment. ‘Historically, covert deployments were accessible only to specialist units dealing with serious and organised crime. They are now widely available. Video quality got better, devices got miniaturised, and autonomy increased,’ he says. However, cost, energy consumption and complicated use mean there is still need for a smart sensor that can get the job done at a minimum cost and effort. ‘What is still missing is an autonomous, intelligent sensor: A small, secure, smart device with multiple capabilities, easily concealable and intelligent enough to record only when predefined events occur. This would minimise cost, complexity, installation time and reliance on often unavailable infrastructure,’ Gymnopoulos says. Whilst such smart devices are progressively entering households (smart, battery-powered cameras equipped with motion sensors and infrared vision are slowly breaking through), LEAs need more robust solutions, capable of providing irrefutable evidence. With this in mind, FORENSOR is bringing about two main innovations: a CMOS imaging sensor with built-in intelligence (the Vision Chip) to filter out irrelevant events (repeating pattern movements such as moving trees, shadows, illumination changes, etc.) and detect only moving objects of interest (such as humans or cars); and a smart Vision Sensor, including the Vision Chip, which can identify higher-level events of interest based on the movement of detected objects. In other words, FORENSOR can operate in an ultra-low-power hibernation state most of the time and be woken up by the Vision Chip only when an object of interest has been detected. As Gymnopoulos points out, the uniqueness of FORENSOR lies in how this ‘surveillance intelligence’ has been squeezed into ultra-low-power electronics and hardware. Of course, this required some trade-offs: ‘There is an everlasting struggle to achieve a compromise between the likes of: large transmission distance and power consumption; high video quality and high transmission speed; the large amount of stored evidence and small sensor size, etc.,’ Gymnopoulos explains. But the choices made by the consortium seem to have paid off, with initial customer feedback being largely positive. The protection of privacy, personal data and other important ethical concerns were also at the heart of the project. An impact assessment approach called DaPPECL was set up, and Gymnopoulos is confident that this approach contributes to ‘the development of a legally and ethically sound system which fosters evidence gathering and protects various social values at the same time.’ With FORENSOR now entering its third year, the focus is placed on exploitation. ‘We already know that FORENSOR has very good potential for exploitation on both system and sub-system level,’ Gymnopoulos explains. ‘Besides our core market of LEAs, we are also looking at adjacent security markets like the protection of critical infrastructure, transport and logistics companies. Indeed, we see that the core innovation of the project has the potential to be transformed into competitive B2C and B2B solutions for these markets. Even at component level, there is a strong focus on commercialisation as some partners have already incorporated project results into their products.’


FORENSOR, smart sensor, video surveillance, camera, evidence gathering, crime, security, autonomous, law enforcement agencies, LEAs

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 653355


Closed project

  • Start date

    1 September 2015

  • End date

    28 February 2019

Funded under:


  • Overall budget:

    € 4 937 833,94

  • EU contribution

    € 4 043 546,25

Coordinated by:


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