If you’re walking around London, you already know that 7,431 cameras are watching you. We urbanites are well-aware that electronic eyes track our every move, but we’ve given up trying to do much about it. Cameras lurk on walls and on street corners, at ATMs and over cash registers, and who knows where else. We choose to forget.
Now, one Google Glass app wants us to spy on the spies. Dutch new media artist Sander Veenhof‘s working concept, Watch Your Privacy, plugs into the augmented reality software Layar to highlight the line of sight from public cameras and puts it right within your everyday view. (If you have Glass, download Layar, then go to Veenhof’s website, and snap the QR code to get started.)
Watch Your Privacy renders bulls eye-like hot spots on the ground where cameras could be filming, and it extends field-of-view cones from cameras themselves. This user interface does not blend in with subtlety. Cameras flood your view with red, yellow, and green iconography, and the relatively covert world of public surveillance is made wonderfully overt.
If it feels ironic that Google Glass–another camera aimed at the world around you–is the platform for Watch Your Privacy, know that the irony isn’t completely lost on Veenhof. When using the app, Glass users automatically upload their own GPS coordinates. This tags every other Watch Your Privacy user in your field of view, but tags you, as a fellow Google Glass/camera wearer, in the process.
This clever trick removes at least a little bit of the hypocrisy inherent to any Google Glass user who’s paranoid about surveillance. But only a little bit.