Closed-circuit video systems may help security personnel watch for handguns in places such as airports, but the task of manually scrutinizing every person on every screen is still a daunting one. It was with this and other applications in mind that researchers at Spain's University of Granada recently developed a system that automatically recognizes guns on video.

Although object recognition technology in and of itself has been around for some time now, one of the interesting things about the Granada system is that it utilizes artificial intelligence. In a nutshell, it continuously learns from its successes, becoming increasingly better at identifying guns over time.

It analyzes video in real time, sampling five frames per second. If a handgun is "seen," the system sounds an alert and highlights the weapon in a red box onscreen. When tested on movies such as Pulp Fiction and Mission Impossible, in which the picture was of relatively low quality, it was still able to spot the appearance of guns with an accuracy rate of over 96.5 percent.

Along with its use in security, it has been suggested that the technology could also be used to check videos uploaded to services such as Facebook or YouTube for violent content.