Sony’s camera contacts could lead to a privacy issue

By Shankari Sureshbabu, Columnist

Life is filled with so many wonderful, yet fleeting moments that it’s only natural to want to be able to capture them to remember forever.

Unfortunately, carrying a camera or phone around to catch that perfect snapshot of a birthday surprise or an adorable proposal can be bulky, or even hinder you from enjoying the moment in the first place.

Well fret no more, avid memory stockpiler! Sony recently filed a patent that could be the next step in wearable technology: contact lenses that record videos with a blink of an eye.

According to the patent, these smart lenses can detect when the wearer is intentionally blinking and take a picture. It then stores them in an internal memory device, which can later be retrieved. Samsung filed a patent only a few weeks earlier regarding a very similar lens technology, but notably without the internal memory storage.

I’m pretty sure I am not the only person who has always wanted to take pictures with my eyes, but the ethical questions surrounding these lenses are an immediate concern.

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The lenses were probably designed for people taking pictures harmlessly. Most people can think of moments in time they wanted to record and relive, whether it be your friends counting down to the new year or playing with your 4-year-old niece. However, problems arise when private moments are captured, not necessarily with the consent of those being recorded.

The idea seems brilliant now, but unless heavily regulated it could be a slippery slope to a never-ending stream of scandals later.

With a phone or camera, it’s usually pretty clear when you’re taking a picture or shooting a video. But with these smart lenses, all you need to do is blink — it might not be as obvious to the people around you when or what you are recording. This ability to surreptitiously record people without them realizing could pose a very real privacy problem. You could have an entire album of secret illicit, intimate or incriminating footage fairly easily.

This technology is rad as hell and there have been many moments when even I’ve dreamed of a time when I could chuck my phone’s 8 megapixel camera and just take photos with my eyes instead. Alas that privilege comes at a price, and that price happens to be privacy. Are we willing to let our fleeting magical memories stay in the past if our personal moments can’t be retrieved by someone at the press of a button?

In today’s world, people are already complaining that privacy is dead and that technology is going too far. Sony’s camera contact lenses seem like a dream come true, but with the potential for a dangerous privacy scandal, they might end up being a nightmare instead.

Shankari is a freshman in LAS.

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