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I always feel like somebody's watching me: The effect of wearable cameras

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Google Glass grew one step closer to reality this week as beta testers got word they'd been selected for the Glass Explorers program.

With Google's Project Glass officially announcing the winners of its Glass Explorers beta testing program yesterday, it seems we're that much closer to actually seeing Google's wearable, interactive camera move from the realm of possibility to everyday reality.

Other "lifeblogging" cameras are also coming closer to fruition: Memoto's GPS-equipped camera automatically captures two 5MP geotagged photos a minute and expects to begin shipping by May. We're also waiting on Autographer, another 5MP wearable camera that uses an array of built-in sensors to take pictures automatically triggered by changes in its environment.

In advance of this brave new world in which we'll all be more widely recorded, some futurists are raising the red flag of caution. If everyone is wearing a constantly recording, super subtle camera, what are the implications for personal privacy, the law and our own safety? 

Memoto automatically captures two 5MP geotagged photos a minute. Apps for both iPhone and Android will allow you to access your Memoto images in timeline format searchable by time, date, place and even lighting conditions, with sharing functionality to social networks.

Will we ever be able to keep a secret again? Could "lifelog" data be subpoenaed? Martin Bryant at The Next Web has recently taken the time to explore some worst-case scenarios we felt were worth sharing again.

Bryant asks if the new technology will force us to be more closely guarded in our words and actions, pointing out that today's “don’t tweet that” warning during a conversation could well become “don’t Glass this.”

What types of business and public buildings may ban wearable cameras? We can certainly predict art galleries won't want an entire collection recorded, and such tech could feel uncomfortable while you're trying to unwind in your local pub. Seattle dive bar 5 Point Cafe may be ahead of the curve in its publicity-seeking proposal to ban Google Glass from its seedy surroundings where, according to owner Dave Meinert, customers come for a degree of anonymity.

And while a politician in West Virginia has already proposed a bill banning the use of "a wearable computer with a head-mounted display" (i.e. Google Glass) while driving, Bryant takes this line of thinking far further by considering larger implications of wearable tech and the law, including its potential for fighting crime and for providing the perfect alibi.

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Comments

Total comments: 127
12
robogobo
By robogobo (Mar 28, 2013)

No way am I going to tolerate someone in my presence with one of these obnoxious, intrusive apparat on their face. No way.

Comment edited 37 seconds after posting
10 upvotes
Chatokun
By Chatokun (Mar 28, 2013)

So if you won't tolerate it, does that mean you'll leave, or confront? If the latter, how is this different from someone holding up a cell phone, or a street camera? Unless they're actively recording video, doesn't the voice command nature of Google Glasses make it harder to do covert photography than a phone you're pretending to text or talk on (unless there are manual controls, but even then, your hand would be up on the glasses)?

I know who work in the industry my company is in often go to rival stores and take pictures via phone while pretending to talk or otherwise be covert about it. Glasses is kind of the opposite, you're showing everyone you have a camera and, remember, an augmented reality device. Taking pictures should be obvious, not covert(until an app comes out that changes it :P).

The other two, well.. I'll leave them out of this, they are what they are.

2 upvotes
Joe Ogiba
By Joe Ogiba (Mar 28, 2013)

I guess if you don't see the camera you will feel better.
http://thespystore.com/video-surveillance-equipment/body-worn-video-cameras/tie-camera-dvr-dvrtie1

http://www.brickhousesecurity.com/product/b-w+indoor+high+res+low+light+square+camera+with+pinhole+cone+lens.do?sortby=bestSellersAscend&from=fn

1 upvote
RedFox88
By RedFox88 (Mar 29, 2013)

It is no different than that person having a camera in their hands, taking photos or recording video. Grow up, dude.

2 upvotes
Teila Day
By Teila Day (Mar 29, 2013)

The choice isn't yours... past removing yourself from the presence of the other person wearing the thing-a-ma-bob on their face. Just like you can't do anything about a person with a cell phone or GoPro camera.

1 upvote
agentul
By agentul (Mar 28, 2013)

and i thought twitter is the lowest point we will sink to. now it's "lifeblogs".

5 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Mar 28, 2013)

"We Are The Borg. You Will Be Assimilated..."

No, really. James Bond became obsolete years ago.
With all the wireless traffic about, and no-one knowing what's being followed, recorded, analysed and sifted for keywords, now everything has advanced to keyfaces, keyshapes, and whatnot at various not advertised light or sound frequencies. Even before cellphones became smartphones, every unit was possible to locate. Next generation cameras will have a geo-locating device which will be communicating both ways too. TV sets? Easy.
So, I'd guess, those who behave in not-so-acceptable manner may be worried. The vast majority live the lives so boring that it's not worth looking at, much less recording.

1 upvote
bobbarber
By bobbarber (Mar 28, 2013)

Right, OldArrow.

Which is why all emails, phone calls, etc. in the U.S. are recorded in U.S. government fusion centers. Because most people have lives that are "not worth looking at".

Here's a question for you. Anti-wiretapping laws in the U.S. exist[ed] based on the 4th Amendment. Is your contention that the 4th Amendment, which guards against unreasonable search and seizure, was enacted for the benefit of criminals?

In other words, congress said, "Hey! Let's make an amendment that only benefits the bad guys. Nobody who isn't a criminal will care about privacy."

Is that it?

EDIT: Also, none of the people listening and watching are bad guys? No bad eggs in the CIA, FBI, NSA, etc.? Just good people, who would never use your private information in a negative or defamatory way, right? All the agents who framed people, wrongly convicted them, etc. died off years ago, is that it? Just one big collection of Gandhi's, harmlessly looking in at you.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
6 upvotes
photo perzon
By photo perzon (Mar 28, 2013)

It is very Borg like isn't

0 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Mar 29, 2013)

@bobbarber... As with the most laws, the governments of the days long gone have envisioned things from their point of view, which was very far from the reality, and especially this weird one. Also, every text ever written can be twisted around so that it means its exact opposite. There is a finely developed science right for that purpose, and it will have to be something special in human behavior to take me by surprise.
Akira Kurosawa said, "In a mad world, only the mad are sane." Looks like I'll have to work on that... :)

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
1 upvote
bobbarber
By bobbarber (Mar 29, 2013)

@OldArrow,

How could an amendment that prohibits unreasonable search and seizure have possibly been conceived with anything else in mind but the government intruding into private citizens lives? When this amendment was written congress was thinking precisely of putting checks on government power, with regards to citizen that the government had reason (or not) to suspect of illegal or threatening activity. There is no other interpretation. How is that different from what is going on today? How is claiming that it protects us from electronic surveillance, which for decades was the interpretation of the Supreme Court, twisting things around?

You sound like Chance the Gardener in Being There.

Comment edited 24 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Mar 29, 2013)

@bobbarber... You make a law to be able to ammend "exceptions" underneath. I'm not trying to explain the intentions of people from other times and places. As far as I'm concerned, the governments of anywhere may look at my life till their eyes pop. My "crime" file still consists only of driving over the speed limit, illegal parking - and occasional disregard of "no photography" signs (usually I'll ask for permission, explaining the purpose, and offering to show the pics).
Cheer up, man. There is a new law where I live stating that every pre-paid phone must be registered to its owner. Internet is an open book, cameras are everywhere, and you are recorded in hundred different ways already. This new camera (another one in the long line of all other similar ones) won't change a thing re privacy. There is no such thing for decades already.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
W Sanders
By W Sanders (Mar 28, 2013)

Potential for fighting crime? LOL, first thing a thief will do is steal your pricey Google Glasses.

2 upvotes
Scott Greiff
By Scott Greiff (Mar 28, 2013)

Come up to me wearing these and I'll kindly ask you to remove them in my presence. Refuse, then I will leave.

5 upvotes
graybalanced
By graybalanced (Mar 29, 2013)

There are potential ways in which that won't scale. One, if almost everyone starts wearing some form of it, you basically won't want to go outside. (Remember, almost nobody had a cell phone only a few years ago)

Two, it is likely that Google Glass is the crude beginnings of this technology. In the future, you probably won't be able to tell by looking whether you are being recorded, scanned, or looked up because the tech will become invisible or miniaturized into standard glasses frames or contacts.

And no, I don't think what I said is good news at all.

3 upvotes
RedFox88
By RedFox88 (Mar 29, 2013)

If you are in a public space, you have no rights to privacy. That is very well established. Do you do the same if a person is holding a camera? And you tell the person to not take pictures if he/she tries? How childish.

2 upvotes
Scott Greiff
By Scott Greiff (Mar 29, 2013)

I have no rights to privacy, I admit. But I don't have to engage with you if I choose. I'm not being childish, I just don't like what you're doing and I'll vote with my feet. Wear your glasses. I just think it's creepy and invasive.

1 upvote
poligame
By poligame (Mar 28, 2013)

This is the new technology:O

0 upvotes
agentul
By agentul (Mar 28, 2013)

this is your new cell phone bill.

0 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Mar 29, 2013)

Exactly. If any invention can be used to make you pay, it will be pushed, advertized, made wanted and have all possible legislature tweaked to make it possible.
Look at a-GPS in your phone, and wonder why it has to be paid, as opposed to the normal GPS receiver? Sure, there are answers to that... but you can't switch the "assisted" option off.
Homo sapiens has been crippled-down to Homo reddens (paying) a long time ago, and paying is what makes a "good citizen"...

1 upvote
zlosyn
By zlosyn (Mar 28, 2013)

more authentic porn for everyone :)

7 upvotes
Vibrio
By Vibrio (Mar 28, 2013)

you'll just look like a spaz wearing these

2 upvotes
Biological_Viewfinder
By Biological_Viewfinder (Mar 28, 2013)

First of all, I called this technology a long time ago (repeatedly here actually). And I was rebuffed with how it won't happen or can't happen.

Well it's not going to stop here.

It doesn't take much imagination to realize where this is headed. Everyone has a video camera, 3D even. So why not just record what our own eyes are seeing. And beyond that, improve our vision and allow zoom-capable nano-lens layers to allow for zooming without adversely effecting appearance. With flagship glasses, the capabilities expand even more allowing users to change lenses just by changing their glasses. And far into the future, I see technology that causes people to amputate their own limbs because the ones we make are better. Technology will never stop.

1 upvote
straylightrun
By straylightrun (Mar 28, 2013)

I think you've been watching too many science fiction movies. You remind me of those people long ago who said we are all going to have flying cars by the year 2000.

0 upvotes
Erick L
By Erick L (Mar 28, 2013)

It's already happening.

0 upvotes
JadedGamer
By JadedGamer (Mar 29, 2013)

We had flying cars by 2000, but they were crude and few (handmade) and required small-plane pilot license and you could not drive them on public roads and they were terribly expensive and...

Steadily improving, though, but still a long way until they become as common as in Jetsons.

0 upvotes
AV Janus
By AV Janus (Mar 28, 2013)

On a brighter note, oppression on photography gear in silly places like malls and other venues will become rather silly when these high res wearable cameras go into the wild.

I can't see many charges sticking on an argument such a s this: "yeah but thats a DSLR and it can record in 36MP and provide terrorists with more vital data than a walk around wearable 5-15MP camera."

When truth is a person could stitch a 360deg high res panorama with a wearable cam and nobody would even notice...

1 upvote
Nishi Drew
By Nishi Drew (Mar 28, 2013)

Everyone's carrying around a phone with a camera, potentially recording what's around them, SLRs record video and the one around someone's strap can be too, laptops and tablets and gaming devices often have built in cameras and how about all those security cameras absolutely everywhere? It'll be a fad to freak out over wearable cameras like the google glass but eventually will be as irrelevant of a subject as all the other cameras around us that many have gotten accustomed to, and might as well have forgotten about them all together.

1 upvote
Artpt
By Artpt (Mar 28, 2013)

Before I would go on a blind dates in the past, I usually had a couple of drinks to warm up prior...

Regrettably, I wish this technology with was available for me back then.....

;) happy holidays to all!

0 upvotes
rowlandw
By rowlandw (Mar 28, 2013)

Guess I'll be ordering my Groucho Marx mask!

2 upvotes
RoelHendrickx
By RoelHendrickx (Mar 28, 2013)

I would NOT want my every move to be recorded.
Seriously.
The Truman Show, anyone?
What amazes me most about all those evolutions, is that it is not some extraneous power (the proverbial Big Brother) that wants to control people 24/7 and annihilate their privacy, but that the lemmings are doing that themselves, and willingly.
Big Brother is watching you? No.
All those Little Brothers are allowing themselves to be watched.

3 upvotes
bobbarber
By bobbarber (Mar 28, 2013)

To be fair, Big Brother is watching too. Maybe you haven't been paying attention.

0 upvotes
RoelHendrickx
By RoelHendrickx (Mar 29, 2013)

Yes, you are right of course.
Him too.
But NOT ONLY him...

0 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Mar 29, 2013)

There's always this, for beginners:
http://www.draftfcb.com/holiday2011/
:)

0 upvotes
ssh33
By ssh33 (Mar 28, 2013)

Ah, Google glass! Antenna glued to your temple all day - what could go wrong?

Comment edited 13 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (Mar 28, 2013)

Minority Report and 1984 seem awfully prophetic at this point. I'm not normally the paranoid type, but soon everything that ever happens may be in the cloud somewhere.

1 upvote
Trollshavethebestcandy
By Trollshavethebestcandy (Mar 28, 2013)

Unwitting Stasi spies on every corner.

3 upvotes
bobbarber
By bobbarber (Mar 28, 2013)

1984 seemed prophetic back then.

Anyway, we've already pretty much lost all personal privacy. That fight is over. What's left is deciding how we adjust to that.

1 upvote
backayonder
By backayonder (Mar 28, 2013)

Big Brother is watching you. Sorry actually your brother, everyone is watching you and isn't your life boring

0 upvotes
dkirk7000
By dkirk7000 (Mar 29, 2013)

Have to be thinking that if 50 people in a subway car are wearing these things, crime would just fade away.

0 upvotes
Trollshavethebestcandy
By Trollshavethebestcandy (Mar 29, 2013)

The real crime is loss of privacy. you cant do anything without being recorded. Some states require both parties to agree on being taped. What do you prefer, a slight increase in safety for living in a prison? Most people do not want to be recorded 24-7. Go be a cog for the borg but do it in your own house. You are naive to think this will not be abused. You will be filtered and sent advertising and have a score that tells all about you. This has to be the line in the sand.

1 upvote
Total comments: 127
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