On 19 July, 2016 I was attacked by three police officers. No one stopped to help, and I didn’t have a way to record the incident. Once the dust settled I decided I needed a way to protect myself and record future interactions with law enforcement. Cops seem to zone in on camera phones pretty quick, and I don’t always carry one anyways. So I decided to go a different route. One that guarantees I will always have it. I purchased a pair of Pivothead Smart glasses. I never leave the house without my sunglasses, and if I ever do forget, I am immediately reminded by a searing pain in my eyes as soon as I walk out the door. This was a sure fire way to make sure I always have the ability to record.
Now, I’ve always been a big advocate for privacy and keeping cameras out of people’s every day lives, so why did I decide to get these $300 glasses with a big camera right in the front? Aren’t I a hypocrite for bringing a camera everywhere I go? It’s an ethical debate I struggled with for quite a bit, and one that still raises questions from time to time. Let me first start by saying, I don’t record with them very often. Mostly I use them when taking my street luge down a mountain or when we go work with our dogs. But the random person at the grocery store doesn’t know that, and they really have no way to know either. They also don’t know me, my morals, or the fact that I’m wearing them as a “just in case”. So what’s to stop me, or someone else, from just recording every instance of their life with these. What stops someone from sticking their head into the neighboring stall at a public restroom?
Well, for starters that behavior is quite conspicuous to begin with, as is the camera itself. These aren’t some super spy glasses with a lense the size of a grain of sand. The camera is fairly obvious when you look at them, although many people I randomly pass don’t seem to notice. Of course the minute you stick your nose where it doesn’t belong people will obviously address that whether you have the glasses or not. In the case of the public restroom, you’re likely to have your high tech shades kicked straight into your eye sockets. But once you do get face to face with someone, it’s hard to miss. Surprisingly though, most people don’t mention them or change their behavior at all. The one comment I have gotten about them was from a young woman who was really interested in them and thought they were cool. I was a bit intrigued by this. Here I am, writing a script in my head about how I’m not recording and it’s just a precautionary measure, and no one gets to hear it. People either don’t care about them, or don’t care to speak up about it. I suppose the majority remain silent about gadgets that make them uncomfortable until a major news story breaks about how a criminal used them. In any case, it’s clear by their design that they were never intended for public snooping, but just a casual and comfortable way to record specific events.
Another limitation they have is they just don’t have the battery life to record constantly. At least not yet. It’s just not a practical way to provide 24 hour surveillance. You can buy swappable battery packs to recharge your internal battery if you need, but to continue recording all day you’re going to need to buy several and constantly recharge those during the day too. You only get around 60 minutes of active recording per battery, and they take just as long to recharge. And if I’m being completely honest, I’m having trouble with the internal battery holding any charge after a month of ownership. It’s quite frustrating to rely on the extra battery pack that comes with them. But this type of gadgetry is still cutting edge and the bold companies who produce them are still trying to figure things out themselves. Bottom line is even at maximum performance they just aren’t made to record your, or anyone else’s, every move.
However, technology is progressing at break neck speeds and often outpaces our ability to think of the possible ramifications. And that is precisely why I decided to take the leap and buy a pair. Ground floor consumers help dictate how these products evolve. It only takes 10 minutes of research to come to the conclusion that Pivothead glasses aren’t a solution for your voyeuristic fetishes. And with early customer feedback we can address any concerns before they become a reality.
People need to realize that technology is going to progress with or without them. It’s simply human nature and being afraid of it won’t stop it. You can say you’re old fashioned and that’s fine, but you can’t hold back progress. Being involved from the start is how you help dictate the path of development. Embrace the fact that we, and our tools, are constantly evolving and be an active part in it. Much like the evolution of any species, those who don’t adapt to their environment die out while the rest of them define the future of their kind.
So, after doing some research and having some practical experience with them I concluded that my concerns about privacy were really unfounded. And while I will always have a critical eye for privacy concerns, I know that if I get involved from the start I can help guide its growth.