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CES Unveiled: “Spy Glasses” Will Heighten Security And Privacy Debates in 2014

by User Not Found | Oct 17, 2013

CES 2014 will be a big event for the hot new wearables sector. Aside from the inevitable hype around Google Glass and Samsung Galaxy Gear there are many other players jostling for position in this emerging segment. A few of those companies were present at the recent CES Unveiled event in London. I discussed two of them in a recent report for our new Wearable Device Ecosysytem research service.

The product which likely to generate most interest at CES in January is likely to be Sunnycam. This UK firm has been selling video glasses to specialists sports and other vertical sectors for the past few months. But its next device will be upgraded in several ways likely to disrupt the market and cause consternation with personal privacy advocates.

Right now most video-recording glasses or headgear are easily identifiable by an observer from a reasonable distance, and certainly are distinguishable from normal eye- or sunglasses. The new Sunnycam will be one of a new generation of “digispecs” which will look just like regular glasses to the casual observer. The recording technology is now so compact that it can slot neatly into a standard glasses arm, and the lens, sited between the eyes, is barely visible without close inspection. Sunnycam displays a flashing blue LED on the side when recording but unless people are familiar with these products they might not immediately realise that video is being recorded.

Sunnycam still claims to be targeting specialist verticals, and it’s true this is where most demand will be generated initially. But it seems inevitable that a wider consumer market will emerge once people realise it is relatively inexpensive to record everything you see and hear. We are not quite at the “lifeblog” stage because battery and recording capacities are still limited, but cloud connectivity will solve this problem sooner or later.

Apart from the inevitable privacy concerns (you will not be able to walk down the street without knowing which people you walk past are recording you or, more critically, how that video is being used), we are going to see some interesting situations at sports stadia and other live events where recording video with cameras and phones is already widely prohibited. Will security personnel be required to check all glasses-wearers from now on?

David Mercer

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