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Make It So


How soon until we see one of these? The "artifact from the future" shown above is my visualization of a bluetooth headset with an embedded cameraphone-style camera, able to send the video to one's handheld for recording and display. Given that fairly decent cameras can be put into the very small, low-power space of a phone, it stands to reason that -- very soon, if not today -- clever designers could successfully build one into a headset.

The vision of the "Lifelogging," Participatory Panopticon future assumes that the network-enabled personal cameras be used to capture images and video of one's life in a serendipitous fashion, and not require the few seconds of fumbling with a camera or phone to get it ready to shoot a picture. Current test versions of such technologies use medallion cameras (such as Microsoft's SenseCam or ExisTech's WearCam), offering all of the style of a wearing a big piece of weird technology around your neck, and all of the social appeal of an accessory that absolutely demands that people look at your chest. The canonical non-goofy medium for future always-enabled cameras would be camera-enabled eyeglasses, offering both a view of the world equivalent to what one already sees, and a potential avenue for display.

But this medium isn't perfect, either. The necessary technologies remain some ways away, but more importantly, the social role of eyeglasses is changing. The increasing popularity of laser eye surgery is steadily reducing the number of people in the hyperdeveloped world who have to wear corrective lenses, and for those people who choose to continue to wear eyeglasses, the frames have become something of a fashion item. It's not unusual to find people who have a variety of eyeglasses to match different outfits and situations. In short, the idea of eyeglasses-based cameras seems to run counter to current trends.

Conversely, the use of bluetooth headsets for mobile phones seems to be on an upswing. They're still far too ungainly to be considered fashion items, but it's getting to be difficult to find a public setting in which there aren't people appearing to suffer from the early stages of Borganism. The calls for laws banning the use of handheld phones while driving will only accelerate this trend.

Headset-mounted cameras for Lifelogging and the Participatory Panopticon would have many of the advantages of the eyeglasses versions, but would require simpler technology to produce. The processing and recording of images would still take place in the phone, minimizing the power demands of the headset cam. A device like this would be an ideal partner for a Nokia N800 tablet or one of the myriad iPhone-copy touch phones on the market.

So, who makes the first bluetooth headcam? Nokia? Apple? One of you?


People may have to get special lifelogging haircuts to avoid obstructing the lens with hair.

Thanks, John, I needed that.

We'll also need to come up with horribly rude gestures to deter people who insist on including us in their lifeblogging.

Maybe Homeland Security will insist that cameras have built-in remote shutoffs so people can't take pictures of things they're not supposed to. For Our Safety.

Wonder whether Steve Mann's latest cyborg headset is close to what you want. Check out http://www.eecg.toronto.edu/~mann/

I'm still waiting for the monitor built into an eyeglass lens to become affordable and it should be a simple step to add a vidcam to that set-up.

I meant to go to the Tenth International Symposium on Wearable Computing a couple of weeks ago here in Cambridge to check in since I went to the First one in 1997 but it got away from me. More info available at http://iswc.net

Hi All,

This issue is more important than most people realize.

Camera Phone Technology Prevents Malevolent Behavior.
With the developement of a Bluetooth Camera and a software driver
we can start a chain reaction changing conditions such that cooperation
and respectful treatment are the Nash equilibrium for nearly all interactions. The following webpage makes this all clear.
I would appreciate your thoughts.
Thanks, John


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