Q

Are wearable PoV cameras vulnerable to privacy issues and misuse?

PoV cameras have the potential to be mishandled, but the same is true for all technology, according to unified communications expert Matt Brunk.

I can see the value of point-of-view (PoV) cameras for sports and law enforcement, but is privacy a concern? With

micro-drones (homemade and otherwise) soon to be in the hands of private individuals, and PoV cameras in glasses (small enough to conceal) is the privacy of citizens at risk? Privacy concerns me more than anything else with these types of cameras. Yes, they are neat and can have many benefits, but as with most new ideas, they are vulnerable to misuse.

What are your thoughts?

First, let me say that I don't discount your concerns and instead elevate them. In my state of Maryland, legislators gain substantial tax revenues from speed cameras. The argument is that automotive speed cameras create safer roads and the counter is that they only increase the government coffers. Then we could discuss security cameras deployed everywhere in both private and public places.

I'd personally love to rid the planet of speed cameras as well as bureaucrats who don't know how to govern or run a balanced budget. Some state governments have done so with the placement of speed and traffic cameras, the timing of traffic signals and strategic placement of cameras in order to increase revenues from more traffic citations issued.

Perhaps the issue is the expectation of privacy and what's reasonable and what's not. I don't believe that wearable Point-of-View (PoV) cameras will break any new legal barriers. But anything can be misused and exploited. Technology as a whole is vulnerable and often used for ill gain -- including governments using technology against other governments.

Perceiving PoVs as "neat" underestimates their true value. Let me explain. A few weeks ago I was sending my sister iPhotos from my iPhone and included one of my wife. My sister, who is a doctor, asked about the bandage wrap around my wife's arm. Recently my wife complained again about her right hand being numb and she needed help putting on jewelry. She often cited that the problem was carpal-tunnel and she was showing me a "bump" on her arm. I photographed her elbow and sent the picture via text to my sister. My sister stated that it may be a cyst that is pressing on a nerve and recommended she see an orthopedic specialist.

In another vain, my daughter is in Haiti as a volunteer. There simply aren't enough resources in Haiti to adequately relieve the pain and suffering of a nation's people still devastated from an earthquake over three years ago. Last year when she worked with volunteers in the clinic in Montrouis, I couldn't help but wonder how technology could serve Haitians. I think in Haiti's case that wearable PoV cameras streaming live video could be very beneficial to far away doctors and specialists acting as advisers.

Closer to my world of understanding, a few days ago I met for a consultation with an architect, engineer, project manager, electrician and a handful of other people in oppressive heat. We were parched after meeting for over four hours and walking through the un-air-conditioned site to finally end up viewing a pull box that was installed incorrectly more than 20 years earlier and that had damaged conduits connecting to it. Most of the time spent was unnecessary. Had the meeting started with a video stream showing the damaged conduit connected to an improperly installed pull box, there would have been no need for a huge onsite meeting of experts. Of course photos may serve the purpose, but in the world of unified communications, we sometimes need more than a text or MMS. It may be useful to escalate to email, chat and voice -- or even initiate a live video feed. PoV cameras will fit nicely into collaboration efforts as a choice and a tool.

Your concerns are valid, and I think that with both collaboration and PoV cameras we have an enormous opportunity to serve the greater good while risking and then dealing with negative misuse of the technology.

Do you need advice? Submit your unified communications and collaboration questions to editor@searchunifiedcommunications.com for our UC experts to answer.

This was first published in August 2013

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