Sunday, 15 October 2017
smile for the robot camera
Now a decent amount of the rashbre central technology is back up and running, it seems like time for a technology post.
Something that caught my eye recently is Google Clips, which could have been like a camera for the selfie generation if only it had pointed the other way.
Google Clips recognizes faces and pets and records them automatically. What could possibly be creepy about that? It's wearable and compact, and although it lights up when recording, it's a bit like having someone permanently collecting evidence.
It reminds me of the Jesse Armstrong Black Mirror episode 'Entire History of You', where Jesse's Peep Show-style recording was made of everything and could be replayed to cross check detail. In Black Mirror the grains captured everything, but these Google Clips only capture shortish bursts of 15 frame per second pseudo-video without sound. At least that's all they do for the moment.
Google is also at pains to say it doesn't put the resultant footage into the cloud, and the user must select which sections get further use. Probably via one of those lengthy usage agreements that have to be accepted the first time the device is used.
The original design didn't include a push button to take a photo; the system didn't need it, being entirely autonomous. They've added a button now as a kind of psychological human factors thing a bit like many unwired office heating controls.
I'm not sure what impact this kind of device will have on photography. Smartphones can already replace smaller pocket cameras for many purposes. The innovation of this device is that it doesn't require any action on the part of the user. Clip it on and it uses artificial intelligence to look for the shot and then snaps pictures it thinks could be of interest. 'Family and pets' says the oh-so-wholesome literature - although it does show a picture of the device tucked away on a shelf.
It's another twist on the Google Glass designs, this time with a more overt camera visible. The pictures it takes are well below current smartphone quality. The wide 130 degree angle of view and unframed picture gives a totally random look to the resultant picture. It reminds me of a security camera photograph.
Then there's the three hour battery life. Hardly deigned for life-streaming. But it is the first generation, and Google probably wants to use it to track other demographic information for helpful marketing purposes.
It's also not directly supporting the selfie generation. The wearer can't take a photo of themselves. Just of other people. Or cats to share on the internet.