May 4, 2013

Pictures on a wink and a glare

Google Glass lets users take pictures with winks; privacy advocates aren't thrilled by the possibilities.

By SALVADOR RODRIGUEZ Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES - If you see someone wearing Google Glass wink at you, you might want to get out of the way because they're probably not flirting with you.

A new app that's just been developed and released for the futuristic piece of technology lets users take a photo by simply winking an eye.

The code for the app, which is conveniently named Winky, was put online Thursday morning by developer Mike DiGiovanni, who works with digital consulting company Roundarch Isobar. He announced the app through a post on Google+, saying that there's a surprisingly big difference between winking to take a picture and taking a photo the way Glass is supposed to, which is by tapping on its touch pad or saying "OK Glass, take a picture."

"Winking lets you lifelog with little to no effort," DiGiovanni says online. "I've taken more pictures today than I have the past 5 days thanks to this. Sure, they are mostly silly, but my timeline has now truly become a timeline of where I've been."

DiGiovanni also uploaded a YouTube video demonstrating Winky in action. He says Glass has technology that can tell the difference between an inadvertent blink and a purposeful wink.

But as convenient as Winky is, there are clear privacy concerns with the technology. Stop The Cyborgs, an online organization that wants to limit the use of Glass because of privacy concerns, said apps like Winky are why Glass can come off as creepy.

"If the technology is open then it can be hacked to create creepy apps like this where people have no warning they are being recorded," Stop The Cyborgs said in an email Thursday.

David Jacobs, the consumer protection counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said Glass has the potential to enable pervasive and secret surveillance but there are steps developers can take to give others warnings that pictures are being taken.

"This privacy risk can be reduced by providing notice to surrounding individuals that they are under surveillance by, for example, including a light that illuminates during recording or a shutter sound for pictures (or having either feature activated by voice command)," Jacobs said in an email Thursday.

And DiGiovanni said his app does give users warnings. He said Winky will make a camera shutter-like sound when it takes a pictures, and others around the person wearing Glass can see the device's screen light up after a photo is taken.

But besides that, DiGiovanni said he doesn't think Glass is a very good device to be creepy with because in order to take a picture or shoot video you have to point at your subject with your face. Instead, he thinks spy cameras or smartphones would be less conspicuous.

 

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)