What happens when experimental technologies are deployed into society by market leaders without much forethought of the consequences on everyday life? When state-based regulations are deliberately ignored by rapid innovation design practices, giving birth to unconventional and radical production, a whole series of impacts play out in real life. One such example is Google's Glass product: an optical head-mounted display unit that is effectively a wearable computer. In early 2013, Google reached out to U.S. citizens asking potential Glass users to send a Twitter message with the #IfIHadGlass hashtag to qualify for consideration and to pay US$1,500 for the product if numbered among the eligible for its early adoption. About 8,000 consumers in the United States allegedly were invited to purchase the Explorer edition of Glass. By April 2013, Google had opened up Glass to its “Innovation in the Open” (I/O) developer community, and by May 2014, they allowed purchases of the product from anywhere in the world.
The early adopters of the open beta product quickly became tech evangelists for the Google brand. As was expected, the touted benefits of Glass, by the self-professed “Glassholes,” were projected as mainstream benefits to society via YouTube and Hangout. Tech-savvy value-added service providers who stood to gain from the adoption and citizens who wished to be recognized as forward-thinking, entrepreneurial, and cool came to almost instantaneous fame. There were, however, only a few dissenting voices that were audible during the trialability phase of diffusion, with most people in society either not paying much attention to “yet another device launch” by Google or ignoring folk who were just geeks working on hip stuff. About the biggest thought people had when confronted by one of these “glasses” in reality was “What's that?” followed by “Are you recording me?” The media played an interesting role in at least highlighting some of the potential risks of the technology, but for the most part, Glass was depicted as a next-generation technology that was here now and that even Australia's own then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard had to try out. Yep, another whiz-bang product that most of us would not dare to live without.
With apparently no limits set, users of Glass have applied the device to diverse contexts, from the operating theater in hospitals to preschools in education and evidence gathering in policing. Yes, it is here, right now. Google claims no responsibility for how its product is applied by individual consumers, and why should they—they're a tech company, right? Caveat emptor! But from the global to the local, Glass has received some very mixed reactions from society at large.
This article focuses on the social-ethical implications of Glass-style devices in a campus setting. It uses secondary sources of evidence to inspire nine short scenarios that depict a plausible “day in the life” of a person possessing a body-worn video camera. A scenario is “an internally consistent view of what the future might turn out to be” . One gleans the current state of technology to map the future trajectory [2, p. 402]. Scenarios allow us two distinct qualities as researchers: 1) an opportunity to anticipate possible and desirable changes to society by the introduction of a new technology known as proactivity and 2) an opportunity to prepare for action before a technology is introduced into the mainstream, known as preactivity [3, p. 8]. While change is inevitable as technology develops and is diffused into society, we should be able to assess possible strategic directions to better prepare for expected changes and, to an extent, unexpected changes. This article aims to raise awareness of the possible social, cultural, and ethical implications of body-worn video recorders. It purposefully focuses on signs of threats and opportunities that body-worn recording devices presently raise in a campus setting such as a university [1, p. 59]. A similar approach was used successfully in  with respect to location-based services in 2007.
In February 2013, Katina and M.G. Michael were invited to write an opinion piece about the ethics of wearable cameras for Communications of the ACM (CACM) . Upon the article's acceptance in September of the same year, the CACM editor provided the option of submitting a short video to accompany the article online, to act as a summary of the issues addressed. Encouraged by the University of Wollongong's videographer, Adam Preston from Learning, Teaching and Curriculum, after some initial correspondence on prospective scenarios, it was jointly decided to simulate the Glass experience with a head-mounted GoPro camera  and to discuss on camera some of the themes presented in the article within a university campus setting (Figure 1). A few months prior, in June, Katina hosted the International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS13) with wearable pioneer Prof. Steve Mann . Ethics approval for filming the three-day international symposium with a variety of wearable recorders was gained from the University of Wollongong's Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) for the University of Toronto-based event. Importantly, it must be emphasized that the scenarios themselves are fictitious in terms of the characters and continuity. They did not happen in the manner stated, but, like a tapestry, they have been woven together to tell a larger story. That story is titled: “Recording on the Run.” Each scenario can be read in isolation, but, when placed side by side with other scenarios, becomes a telling narrative of what might be with respect to societal implications if such recording devices proliferate.
Having hired the videographer for 2 h to do the filming for CACM, we preplanned a walkthrough on the University of Wollongong's campus (Figure 2). Deniz Gokyer (Figures 3 and 4) was approached to participate in the video to play the protagonist GoPro wearer, as he was engaged in a master's major project on wearables in the School of Information Systems and Technology. Lifelogging Web sites such as Gloggler.mobi that publish point-of-view (POV) video content direct from a mobile device were also used to support claims made in the scenarios. The key question pondered at the conclusion of the scenarios is, how do we deal with the ever-increasing complexity in the global innovation environment that continues to emerge around us with seemingly no boundaries whatsoever? The scenarios are deliberately not interpreted by the authors to allow for debate and discussion. The primary purpose of the article was to demonstrate that body-worn recording products can have some very significant expected and unexpected side effects, additionally conflicting with state laws and regulations and campus-based policies and guidelines.
Recording on the Run
Scenario 1: The Lecture
Anthony rushed into his morning lecture on structures some 10 min late. Everyone had their heads down taking copious notes and listening to their dedicated professor as he provided some guidance on how to prepare for the final examination, which was worth 50% of their total mark. Anthony was mad at himself for being late, but the bus driver had not accepted his AUD$20 note in lieu of the Opal Card now available. Prof. Markson turned to the board and began writing the practice equations wildly, knowing that he had so much to get through. Anthony made sure to keep his hands free of anything that would sidetrack him. Instead, he recorded the lecture with a GoPro on his head. Some of the girls giggled in the back row as he probably looked rather stupid, but the laughter soon subsided and everyone got back to work, copying down Markson's examples. At one stage, Markson turned to look at what the giggles were about, made startling eye contact with Anthony, and probably thought to himself: “What's that? Whatever it is, it's not going to help him pass—nothing but calculators are allowed in exam situations.”
Anthony caught sight of Sophie, who motioned for him to go to the back row, but by then, he thought it would probably be better recording from the very front and he would cause less disruption by just sitting there. Markson was a little behind the times when it came to innovation in teaching, but he was a brilliant lecturer and tutor. Anthony thought to himself, if anyone asks for the recording, he would make sure that it would be available to them. The other students took note of the device that was firmly strapped to his head with a band but were somewhat unphased. Anthony had always argued that recording with a GoPro is nothing more than recording with a mobile phone. He surfed a lot at Austinmer Beach, and he thought the video he took of himself on the board was just awesome, even though his girlfriend thought it was vain. It was like a motion selfie.
Scenario 2: The Restroom
It had been one long day, practically like any other, save for the fact that today Anthony had chosen to wear the GoPro on a head-mounted bandana to record his lectures. They were in the serious part of the session, and he wanted to make sure that he had every opportunity to pass. Anthony was so tired from pulling an all-nighter with assessment tasks that he didn't even realize that he had walked into the restroom toward the end of his morning lecture with the device switched on and recording everything in full view. Lucky for him, no one had been accidentally caught on film while in midstream. Instead, as he walked in, he was greeted by someone who was walking out and a second guy who avoided eye contact but likely noticed the camera on Anthony's head from the reflection in the mirror while washing his hands. The third one didn't even care but just kept on doing what he was doing, and the fourth locked his eyes to the camera with rage for a while. They didn't speak, but Anthony could sense what he thought—“what the heck?” Anthony was an attractive young man who sported tattoos and always tried to look different in some way. He hated conformity. Now that he had watched the video to extract the lecture material, he wondered why no one had stopped him to punch the living daylights out of him in the restroom. Anthony had thought people were getting used to the pervasiveness of cameras everywhere—not just in the street and in lecture theaters but also in restrooms and probably soon in their homes as well.
Scenario 3: The Corridor
By this time, Anthony was feeling rather hungry. In fact, he was so hungry that he was beginning to feel very weak. All of those late nights were beginning to catch up now. Sophie demanded that they go eat before the afternoon lecture. As they walked out of the main tower building, they bumped into an acquaintance from the previous session. Oxford, as he was known by his Aussie name, was always polite. The conversation went something like this. “Hello Oxford! How are you?” said Sophie. Oxford replied, “I'm fine, thank you. Good to see you guys!” Sophie quickly pointed to Anthony's head-mounted camera and said, “Oxford, can you believe how desperate Anthony has become? He's even recording his lectures with this thing now!” Oxford, who was surprised, remarked, “Oh yeah. I've never seen one of these before. Are you recording right now, Anthony?” “Yes, I am,” Anthony affirmed, “but to be honest, I completely forgot about it—I'm dreaming about food right now.” Anthony patted his tummy, which was by now making grumbling noises. “Want to come with us to the café near the gymnasium?” Anthony asked.
“He just filmed most of the structures lecture—I'm thinking like, this might be the coolest thing that might stick,” Sophie reflected, ignoring Anthony. “No kidding,” Oxford said, “You're recording me right now? I'm not exactly thrilled about this, but ‘hi,’ for what it's worth.” Oxford waved to the camera and smiled. Sophie interjected, “Oxford, it is not like he's making a movie of you, haha!” Sophie grabbed Oxford's arm to pull it toward her—the jab was signified to make it clear she was joking. But suddenly, things became serious instead of lighter. Oxford continued, “No, I'm not quite good in front of the camera…like I don't like pictures being taken of me or even recordings of my voice. It's probably the way I was raised back home.”
Anthony told Oxford not to worry because he was not looking at him, and so, therefore, nothing but his voice was really being recorded. Little did he realize that was breaking local New South Wales laws, or at least that was what he would find out later in the day when someone from security spotted him on campus. Sophie asked with curiosity, “Do you think someone should ask you if they want to record you on campus?” Oxford thought that was a no brainer—“Of course they should ask. You're wearing this thing on your head, and there's nothing telling people passing by whether you are watching them and recording them. C'mon Anthony, you're a smart guy, you should know this stuff; you're studying engineering, aren't you? We're supposed to be the ones that think of everything before it actually happens. You might as well be a walking CCTV camera.” There was dead silence among the friends. Then Anthony blurted out, “But I'm not watching you; you just happen to be in my field of view.”
Sophie began to consider the deeper implications while Anthony was getting flustered. He wanted to eat, and they were just beginning a philosophical conversation. “C'mon Oxford, come with us, we're starving…and we can talk more at lunch, even though we should be studying.” As they walked, Sophie continued: “It's not like this is the worst form of camera that could be watching. I saw this thing on the news a couple of weeks ago. The cameras are getting tinier; you cannot even see them. The company was called OzSpy, I think, and they're importing cheap stuff from Asia, but I don't think it's legal in every state. The cameras are now embedded in USBs, wristbands, pens, keyfobs, bags, and t-shirts. How do you know you're being recorded with that kind of stuff?” Oxford was beginning to feel uneasy. Anthony felt like taking off the contraption but left it on because he was just too lazy to put the thing back in its box and then back on again in less than 2 h. Oxford confessed again: “I feel uncomfortable around cameras, and it's not because I'm doing anything wrong.” They walked quietly for a few minutes and then got to the café. Sophie pointed to the wall as they queued. “Look up there. It's not like we're not always under surveillance. What's the difference if it is on a building wall versus on someone's head?”
Anthony wished they'd change the subject because it was starting to become a little boring to him. Oxford thoughtfully replied to Sophie, “Maybe it's your culture or something, but I even wave to CCTV cameras because it's only for security to see on campus. But if someone else is recording me, I don't know how he or she will use the footage against me. I don't like that at all. I think if you're recording me to show other people, then I don't think it's okay at all.” Sophie chuckled, “Hey, Oxford, this way Anthony will never forget you even when you have finished your degree and return to Thailand in ten years; when he is rich and famous, he'll remember the good old days.” The truth was that Oxford never wanted to return to Thailand; he liked the opportunities in Australia but added, “Okay, so you will remember me and my voice forever.”
By this time, Anthony was at the front of the queue. “Guys, can we forget about this now? I need to order. Okay, Oxford, I promise to delete it if that makes you feel better.” Oxford said, “No, Anthony, you don't understand me. I don't mind if you keep this for old times sake, but just don't put it on the Internet. I mean don't make it public, that's all. Guys, I just remembered I have to go and return some library books so I don't get a fine. It's been nice chatting. Sorry I cannot stay for lunch. Good luck in your finals—let's catch up and do something after exams.” “Sure thing,” Sophie said. “See ya.” As Oxford left and Anthony ordered food, she exclaimed, “Your hair is going to be great on the video!” Oxford replied, “I know my hair is always great, but this jacket I am wearing is pretty old.” Oxford continued from afar, “Anthony, remind me to wear something nicer next time. Bye now.” Sophie waved as Oxford ran into the distance.
Scenario 4: Ordering at the Cafe
Anthony ordered a cappuccino and his favorite chicken and avocado toastie. The manager, who was in his 50s, asked for Anthony's name to write on the cup. “That will be 10 note and waited for change. “And how are you today?” asked the manager. “I'm fine thanks.” “Yeah, good,” replied the manager, “Okay, see you later, and have a good one.” Anthony muttered, “I'll try.” Next it was Sophie's turn to order. “What's up with him?” asked the café manager. “What's that thing on his head? He looks like a goose.” Sophie cracked up laughing and struck up a conversation with the manager. She was known to be friendly to everyone.
Anthony went to the service area waiting for his cappuccino and toastie. For once, the line was not a mile long. The male attendant asked Anthony, “What's with the camera?” By then, Anthony had decided that he'd play along—sick of feeling like he had to defend himself, yet again. He wasn't holding a gun after all. What was the big deal? He replied, “What's with the camera, mate? Well, I'm recording you right now.” “Oh, okay, awesome,” said the male attendant. Anthony probed, “How do you feel about that?” The male attendant answered, “Well, I don't really like it man.” “Yeah, why not?” asked Anthony, trying to figure out what all the hoo-ha was about. There were CCTV cameras crawling all over campus, and many of them were now even embedded in light fixtures.
“Hey, Josie, Josie—how do you feel about being filmed?” exclaimed the male attendant to the female barista cheekily. “I don't really mind. I always wanted to be an actress when I was little, here's my chance!” “Yeah?!” asked Anthony, in a surprised tone. “Are you filming me right now? Are you going to make me look real good?” laughed the barista in a frisky voice. Anthony smiled and, by then, Sophie had joined him at the service area, a little jealous. “What's this for?” asked Josie. She had worked on campus for a long time and was used to serving all sorts of weirdos. “No reason. I just filmed my structures class. And now, well now, I've just decided to keep the camera rolling.” Josie asked again, “Are you really filming me right now?” Anthony reaffirmed, “Yes.”
Sophie looked on in disbelief. The camera had just become the focal point for flirtation. She wasn't liking it one bit. Josie asked Anthony again, “Why are you filming?” Anthony didn't know why he blurted out what he did but he said, “Umm…to sort of get the reactions of people. Like how they act when they see someone actually recording them.” The male attendant interrupted, “You know what you should do? You should go up to him,” pointing to the manager, “and just stare at him, like just stare him in the face.” “I will, I will,” said Anthony. Egging Anthony on, the male attendant smiled, “Stand in front of the queue there, and just stare at him. He'll love it, he'll love it, trust me. You'd make his day man.” “Hey, where's my cappuccino and toastie?” demanded Anthony. The male attendant handed the food over and got Sophie's food ready too. “And this must be yours.” “Yes,” Sophie replied. The male attendant insisted: “Focus on him now, don't focus on me, all right?” “Yup, ok, see you later. Cheers.” Anthony felt a little diminished; although he was surprised that the barista talked to him for as long as she did, he wasn't about to pick a fight with an old bloke. What he was doing was harmless, he thought; he left the counter to take a seat, but considered switching off the device.
Scenario 5: Finding a Table at the Cafe
Sophie found a table with two seats left in a sunny spot and put her things down. Lack of sleep during exam time meant that everyone generally felt cold. Anthony sat down also. At the large oblong table was a small group of three—two girls and a guy. Sophie went looking for serviettes, as they forgot them at the counter. As soon as Anthony pulled up a chair to sit down, one of the girls got up and said, “And you have a lovely afternoon.” Anthony replied, “Thank you and you too.” Speechless, the other two students at the table picked up whatever was left of their drinks and left not long after. As Sophie returned, she saw the small group leaving and whispered, “Anthony, maybe you should take that thing off. You're getting quite a bit of attention. It's not good. A joke's a joke. Alright, I could cope with the classroom situation, but coming to the café and telling people you're recording. Surely, you are not, right? You're just kidding, right?” “Listen, Sophie, I'm recording you now. The battery pack lasts a while, about an hour, before it needs replacing. I'm going to have to charge the backup during the next lecture.” “Anthony,” Sophie whined, “c'mon, just turn it off.” Anthony acted like he was turning it off reluctantly although he had not. “Now put it away,” Sophie insisted. “No, I'm going to leave it on my head,” Anthony said. “I couldn't be bothered, to tell you honestly. Just don't forget to remind me to turn it back on when we are in class.” “Good,” said Sophie.
By then, two girls asked if they could sit down at the table. “Sure,” said Sophie. The girls were known to Sophie, at the Residence but they merely exchanged niceties. “My name is Klara,” said one of the girls. “And my name is Cygneta,” said the other. “I'm Sophie, and this is my boyfriend Anthony. Nice to finally get to talk to you. That'd be right. Just when we should all be studying, we're procrastinating and socializing.” Anthony was happy for the change of conversation, so he thought.
“I know what that is, Anthony! It's a GoPro,” Cygneta exclaimed. “Sophie, Sophie, I wouldn't let my man carry that thing around on campus filming all those pretty ladies.” Cygneta giggled childishly, and Klara joined her in harmony but did not know anything about the contraption on Anthony's head. Sophie was reminded why she had never bothered approaching Cygneta at the Residence. Those two were inseparable and always too cute—the typical creative arts and marketing students. Sophie retorted, “Well, he's not filming right now. He just filmed the lecture we were in.” Anthony made Sophie think twice. “How do you know I'm not filming right now?” Sophie said, “Because the counter on the LCD is not ticking.” Cygneta had used a GoPro to film her major project and knew that you could toggle the LCD not to show a counter, sharing this with the group. Sophie didn't like it one bit. It made her doubt Anthony.
Anthony proceeded to ask Klara, “How do you feel when you see someone recording you?” “Yeah, not great. I feel, like, really awkward,” confessed Klara. Then Anthony asked the million dollar question: “What if most people wore a Google Glass on campus and freed themselves of having to carry an iPhone?” Klara at this point was really confused. “Google what?” Sophie repeated, “Google Glass” in unison with Anthony. Shaking her head from side to side, Klara said, “Nah, I'm not into that kind of marketing at all.” “But it's the perfect marketing tool to gather information,” considered Anthony. “Maybe you're going to start using it one day as well? Don't you think?” Klara looked at Sophie and Anthony and replied, “What do you mean? Sorry?” Anthony repeated, “Do you reckon you're gonna be using Google Glass in a couple of years?” Klara turned to Cygneta for advice. “What in the world is Google Glass? It sounds dangerous?” Anthony explained, “It's a computer that you can wear as glasses. But it's a computer at the same time.” Klara let out a sigh. “I had no idea that even existed, and I think I'm a good marketing student and on top of things.”
By this stage, Sophie was feeling slighted and decided to finish her food, which was now cold. Anthony, caught off guard by Klara's lack of awareness, reaffirmed, “So you don't reckon you'd be wearing glasses that can record and works as a phone or a headband capable of reading brain waves?” Cygneta said, “Probably not,” and Klara also agreed, “No. I like my phone just fine. At least I can choose when I want to switch it off. Who knows what could happen with these glasses? It's a bit too out there for me. That stuff's for geeks, I think. And anyway, there's nothing interesting in my life to capture—just one big boring stream of uni, work, and home.”
Sophie pointed out an interesting fact: “Hey girls, did you know that there's no law in Australia that forbids people from video recording others in public? If it's happening out on the street, then it ain't private.” Cygneta replied, “Yeah I heard this news the other day; one of the ministers was caught on video heavily cursing to another minister when he was listening to his speech. He was waiting for his turn to give a speech of his own, apparently, and he didn't even notice someone was recording him. What an idiot!”
Sophie asked Anthony to accompany her to the bank. Lunch was almost over, and the lecture was now less than an hour away. The pair had not studied, although at the very next table was a group of six buried in books from the structures class. Klara and Cygneta went to order a meal at the café and said goodbye. Anthony reluctantly got up from the table and followed Sophie to the study group. Sophie bravely asked, “Anyone got any solutions yet to the latest practice questions?” People looked up, and the “little master,” who was codenamed for his genius, said, “Not yet.” None of the other engineering students, mostly of Asian background, could even care less about the camera mounted on Anthony's head. Sophie found this disturbing and startling. She immediately thought about those little drones being developed and how men seemed to purchase these toys way more than any woman she knew. Who knows what the future would hold for humankind, she thought. Maybe the guys would end up loving their machines so much they'd forget spending time with real people! Sophie liked the challenge of engineering, but it was at times strange to be in a room full of guys.
The power to exclude, delete, or misrepresent an event is with the wearer and not the passive passerby.
Scenario 6: A Visit to the C.A.B. Bank
Sophie was beginning to really tire of the GoPro shenanigans. She asked Anthony to wait outside the bank since he would not take off the contraption. Sophie was being pushed to the limit. Stressed out with exams coming up and a boyfriend who seemed preoccupied with proving a point, whatever that point was, she just needed things to go smoothly at the bank. Luckily this was the less popular bank on campus, and there was hardly anyone in it. Sophie went right up to the attendant but called out for Anthony to help her with her bag while she rummaged in her handbag for her driver's license. Anthony sat down on one of the sitting cubes and, looking up, realized he was now in the “being recorded” position in the bank himself. One attendant left the bank smiling directly into the camera and at Anthony. He thought, “How's that for security?” The third teller leaned over the screen and asked Anthony, “Is there anything we can help you with?” Anthony said, “I'm waiting for my girlfriend,” which seemed to appease the teller too easily.
It was now time for Sophie to withdraw money at the teller. Anthony really didn't mind because Sophie was always there to support him, no matter how long it took. They reflected that they had not more than 30 min left to do a couple more errands, including visit the ATM and go to the library. There were four people in the queue at the ATM. Anthony grabbed Sophie's hand and whispered in her ear, “Sophie, do you realize something? If I was recording right now, I'd be able to see all the PIN numbers of all the people in front of us.” Sophie shushed Anthony. “You're going to get us in trouble today. Enough's enough.” “No really, Sophie, we've got to tell security. They're worried about tiny cameras looking down and skimming devices, but what about the cameras people are wearing now?” Sophie squeezed Anthony's hand—“Anthony, you are going to get us in serious trouble. And this is not the time to be saving the world from cybercriminals.” Anthony moved away from the queue, realizing that his face was probably being recorded on CCTV. The last thing he ever wanted was to be in trouble. He went to instantly budge the GoPro off his head; it was becoming rather hot even though it had been a cool day, and it was beginning to feel uncomfortable and heavy on his back and neck muscles. By the time he could get his act together, Sophie had made her transaction and they were hurriedly off to the library just before class.
Scenario 7: In the Library
As they rushed into the library to get some last-minute resources, Anthony and Sophie decided to split up. Sophie was going to the reserved collection to ask for access to notes that the special topics lecturer had put on closed reserve, and Anthony was going to do some last-minute bibliographic searches for the group assignment that was due in a few days. Why was it that things were always crammed into the last two weeks of the session? How on earth was any human being able to survive those kinds of demands? Anthony grabbed Sophie's bag and proceeded to the front computers. It was packed in the library because everyone was trying to do their final assignments. As Anthony hovered behind the other students, he remembered the shoulder-surfing phenomenon he had considered at the ATM. It was exactly the same. Anthony made sure not to look forward. As soon as there was an empty computer, he'd be next. He conducted some library searches standing up and then spotted two guys moving away from a sit-down desk area. Given all the stuff he was carrying, he thought he'd ask the guys nearby if they had finished. They said yes and tried to vacate the space as fast as they could, being courteous to Anthony's needs. By this time, Anthony was also sweating profusely and had begun to look stressed out.
The cameras are now embedded in USBs, wristbands, pens, keyfobs, bags, and t-shirts.
Anthony dumped his stuff on the ground, and the shorter of the two men said, “Are you wearing a camera on your head?” Anthony muttered to himself, “Oh no, not again.” Had he been able to take the device off his head effortlessly, he would have. After wearing it for over 2 h straight, it had developed an octopus-like suction to his forehead. “Yeah, yeah, it's a camera.” This camera had brought him nothing but bad luck all day. Okay, so he had taped most of the first lecture in the morning, but it had not been any good since. Sophie was angry with him over the café discussions, Oxford was not interested in being filmed without his knowledge, and Anthony's shoulders were really starting to ache and he was developing a splitting headache. “You guys would not happen to be from civil engineering?” Anthony asked in the hope that he and Sophie might get some hints for the forthcoming group assignment. “Nah, we're from commerce.” Both men walked away after saying goodbye, and Anthony was left to ponder. Time was running out quickly, so he left his things where they were and decided to go to the desk and ask for help directly.
“Hello, I am wondering if you would be willing to help me. My name is Anthony, and I am doing research on…” The librarian studied Anthony's head closely. “Umm…can I just ask what's happening here? Please tell me you are not recording this conversation,” asked the librarian politely. “What?” said Anthony, completely oblivious to the camera mounted on his head. He then came to his senses. “Oh that? That's just a GoPro. I've not got it on. See?” He brought his head nearer to the librarian, who put on her glasses. “Now, I'm looking for…” “I'm sorry, young man, I'm going to have to call down the manager on duty. You just cannot come into the library looking like that. In fact, even onto campus.”
Anthony felt like all of his worst nightmares were coming true. He felt like running, but his and Sophie's belongings were at the cubicle and besides, the library security CCTV had been recording for the last few minutes. His parents would never forgive him if anything jeopardized his studies. Sophie was still likely photocopying in closed reserve. What would she think if she came out to be greeted by all this commotion? The manager of “The Library”—oh he felt a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach. Anthony knew he had done nothing wrong, but that was not the point at this time. The librarian seemed less informed than even he was of his citizen rights, and while she was on the phone, hurriedly trying to get through to the manager, Sophie returned with materials.
“Where are our bags? My laptop is in there Anthony.” Anthony signaled over to the cubicle, didn't go into details, and asked Sophie to return to the desk to do some more searches while he was with the librarian. Surprisingly, she complied immediately given the time on the clock. Anthony was relieved. “Look,” he said to the librarian, “I am not crazy, and I know what I am doing is legal.” She gestured to him to wait until she got off the phone. “Right-o, so the manager's at lunch, and so I'll have to have a chat with you. First and foremost, when you're taking footage of the students, you need permission and all that sort of thing. I'm just here to clarify that to you.” “Look, umm, Sue, I'm not recording right now, so I guess I can wear whatever I want and look as stupid as I want so long as I'm not being a public nuisance.” “Young man, can I have your student ID card please?” Anthony claimed he did not have one with him, but was trying to avoid returning back to where Sophie was to get hit with even more questions. Anthony proceeded by providing the librarian his full name.
“Well, Anthony Fielding, it is against university policy to go around recording people in a public or private space,” stated the librarian firmly. Anthony, by now, had enough. “Look, Sue, for the second time, I've not recorded anyone in the library. I did record part of my lecture today with this device. It is called a GoPro. Why hasn't anyone but me heard about it?” “Well we have heard of Google Glass here, and we know for now, we don't want just anyone waltzing around filming indiscriminately. That doesn't help anyone on campus,” the librarian responded. “Okay, based on my experience today, I know you are right,” Anthony admitted. “But can you at least point me toward a library policy that clearly stipulates what we can and cannot do with cameras? And why is this kind of camera one that you're alarmed about rather than a more flexible handheld one like this one?” Anthony pulled out his iPhone 6. The librarian seemed oblivious to what Anthony was trying to argue. Meanwhile, Anthony glanced over to Sophie half-smiling, indicating they will have to make a move soon by pointing at his watch and then the exit.
“Look, I know you mean well. But…” Anthony was interrupted again by the librarian. “Anthony Fielding, it is very important you understand what I am about to tell you; otherwise you might end up getting yourself in quite a bit of trouble. If you're recording students, you actually have to inform the student and ask if it's okay, because quite a lot of them are hesitant about being filmed.” Anthony retorted, “I know, I know, do unto others as you'd have them do unto you, but I already told you, I'm not recording…But which policy do you want to refer me to and I'll go and read it, I promise.” The librarian hesitated and murmured behind her computer, “Ah…I'll have to look…look…look and find it for you, but I just…I just know that…” The librarian realized the students were going to be late for a lecture. “Look, if you're right and there is no policy, assuming I've not made an error, then we need to develop one.” “Look, Sue, I don't mean to be rude, but we've already filmed in a lecture theater today. I wouldn't call a public theater, private in any capacity. Sure people can have private conversations in a theater, but they shouldn't be talking about private things unless they want to actively share it during class discussion time.” “Look, that's a bit of a gray area,” the librarian answered. “I think I am going to have to ask security to come over. It's just that I don't think the safety of others is being put first. For starters, you should take that thing off.” Anthony realized that things were now serious. He attempted to take off the band, which was soaking wet from sweat given his latest predicament.
Sophie realized something was wrong when she was walking with the bags back to the information desk. “Anthony, what's happening?” Sophie had a worried look on her face. “I've been asked to wait for security,” said Anthony. “Can you please not worry and just leave for class? I won't feel so bad if you go on without me.” Sophie responded, “Anthony, I told you this thing was trouble—you should have just taken it off—oh Anthony!” “What now?” said Anthony. “Your forehead…are you okay? It's all red and wrinkly and sweaty. Are you feeling okay?” Sophie put her hand on Anthony's forehead and realized he was running a fever. “Look, is this really necessary? My boyfriend has not done anything wrong. He's taken off the device. If you want to see the lecture footage, we'll show you. But really, the guy has to pass this subject. Please can we go to the lecture theater?” The librarian was unequivocally unemotional. Anthony looked at Sophie and she nodded okay and left for class with all the bags. “Please ring me if you need anything, and I'll be here in a flash.” Sophie kissed Anthony goodbye.
Scenario 8: Security on Campus
Moments later, security arrived on the scene. Anthony challenged the security guards and emphasized that he had done nothing wrong. Anthony was escorted back to the security office on campus some 500 m away. At this point, he was told he was not being detained, that simply university security staff were going to have a chat with him. Anthony became deeply concerned when several security staff greeted him at the front desk. They welcomed him inside and asked him to take a seat and whether or not he'd like a cup of coffee.
“Anthony, there have been a spate of thefts on campus of late. We'd like to ask you where you got your GoPro camera.” “Well, it was a birthday present from my older brother a few months ago,” Anthony explained. “He knows I've always made home movies from when I was a youngster, and he thought I might use it to film my own skateboarding stunts.” “Right,” said the police officer, “Could you let me take a look at the serial number at the bottom of the unit?” “Sure,” said Anthony, “and then can I go? I haven't stolen anything.” The security staff inspected the device and checked the serial number against their database, handing it back to Anthony. “Ok, you're free to go now.” “What? And I thought you were going to interrogate me for the footage I took today!”
“Look Anthony, that's a delicate issue. Yeah, under the Surveillance Devices Act, for you to be able to record somebody you need their explicit permission, which is why you'll see wherever we've got cameras we've got signage that states you're being filmed, and even then we've got a strict policy about what we do with the recordings. We can't let anybody view it unless it's police and so on, but it's really strict.” Anthony replied, “What happens when Google Glass begins to proliferate on campus? The GoPro, which will be obvious, won't be what you're looking out for but rather Glass being misused or covert devices.” “Look, security, the way it works at universities is that you are concerned with the here and now. I can't predict what will happen in about three months' time, right?” At this point Anthony was thinking about his lecture and how he was running late, yet again, however, this time through no fault of his own.
“Is she with you?” asked the security manager. “Who do you mean?” questioned Anthony. “That young lady over there,” the manager replied, pointing through the screen door. “Oh, that's my girlfriend, Sophie. I reckon she was worried about me and came to see what was going on.” Sophie had her iPhone out and was recording the goings on. Anthony just had to ask, “Am I right? Is my girlfriend allowed to do that? She isn't trespassing. The university campus is a public space for all to enjoy.” The security manager replied, “Actually, she's recording me, but she's not really allowed to do that without giving me some sort of notification. We might have cameras crawling all over this campus for student and staff safety, but our laws state if people don't want to be recorded, then you should not be recording them. On top of this, you would probably realize that when you walk around the campus in large areas like the walkways, they're actually facing the road, they're not facing people. So yes, you need permission for what she's doing there or adequate signage explaining what is going on.”
Sophie put the phone down and knocked on the door. “Can I come inside?” “Of course you can,” said the security manager. “Join the party!” “Anthony, Prof. Gabriel is asking for you; otherwise, he'll count you absent and you won't get your 10% participation mark for the session. I told him I knew where you were. If we get back within 15 min, you're off the hook.” “Hang on Sophie,” Anthony continued, “I'd like to solve this problem now to avoid any future misunderstandings. After all, I'm about to enter the classroom and record it for my own learning and progress. What do you think? Is that against the law?” Anthony asked the security manager. The security manager pondered for a long while. “Look, we get lots and lots of requests asking us to investigate the filming of an individual; we take that very seriously. But there is no law against that taking place in a public space.” “Is a lecture theater a public space?” Anthony prompted. The security manager replied, “I think you should be allowed to use headmounted display video cameras if it's obvious what you're doing and unless a bystander asks you to cease recording. The lecture rooms are open and are usually mixed with the reception areas, which makes them public areas; so if you want to gain access to the room, obviously you can because it's a public area. You don't have to use a swipe card to get in, you see. But then there are still things that you can't do in a public area, like you can't ride a bicycle in there; or if someone is giving a lecture, you can't interrupt the lecture. That sort of thing.”
Anthony started speaking from the experience of his day. “I was queueing in front of the ATM today, and I realized that I could easily see the activities of the people in front of me and the same in the library. When I hover around somebody's computer, I can see their screen and what they're up to on the Internet. It bothered even me after my experience today; unintentionally I'm seeing someone's ATM PIN number, I'm seeing someone searching on Google about how to survive HIV, which is personal and highly sensitive private stuff. No one should be seeing that. I just wore my GoPro to record my lecture for study purposes, but these kinds of devices in everyday life must be very disturbing for the people being recorded. That's why I'm curious what would happen on campus.” The security manager interrupted, “We already have some policies in place. For example, you can make a video recording, but what are you going to do with it? Are you going to watch it yourself or are you going to e-mail it around? You can't do that using your university e-mail account. You can't download, transfer, or copy videos using university Internet, your university account, or your university e-mail account. Look it up; there are also rules about harassment…It's fairly strict and already organized in that regard. But if you're asking where the university is applying policies, you're asking the wrong people because we don't get involved in policy making. You should be talking to the legal department. We don't make the policies; we just follow the procedures. Every citizen of this nation also has to abide by state and federal laws.”
The explanation satisfied Anthony. He realized that the security manager was not the person to talk to for any further inquiries. “Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions; you've been very helpful,” Anthony said as he headed to the door to attend his class with Sophie. He did need that 10% attendance mark from Prof. Gabriel if he wanted to be in the running for a Distinction grade.
Scenario 9: Sophie's Lecture
After their last lecture together, Anthony was happy thinking he was almost done for the day and he would be heading back home but Sophie had one more hour of tutorial. Anthony walked Sophie to her last tutorial's classroom. “C'mon Anthony, it'll only take half an hour tops. After this class, we can leave together; bear with it for just a while,” Sophie insisted. “Okay,” said Anthony; his mind was overflowing with the thought of the final exams and questions raised in his mind by his unique experience with the GoPro all day.
They arrived a few minutes late. Sophie quietly opened the door as Anthony walked in behind her. The lecturer took a glimpse of Anthony with the GoPro on his head. The lecturer asked Anthony, “Are you in this class?” “No, I'm just with a friend,” replied Anthony as he was still trying to walk in and take a seat. “Okay and you're wearing a camera?” “Yeah?!” Anthony replied, confused by the tone of the lecturer. “Take it off!” the lecturer exclaimed. “You don't have permission to wear a camera in my class!” Silence fell over the classroom. As the lecturer's tone became more aggravated, everyone stopped, trying to understand what was going on. “Ok, but it's not…” The lecturer refused to hear any explanation. “You're not supposed to interrupt my class, and you're not supposed to be wearing a camera, so please take the camera off and leave the class!”
Anthony saw no point in explaining himself and left the class. Sophie, in shock, followed Anthony outside to check up on him and make sure he was all right. “Oh Anthony, I don't know how many times I told you to take it off all day…Are you ok?” Anthony was shocked as well. “I don't understand why he got so upset.” Anthony was facing the lecture theater's glass door; it opened and the lecturer stepped out and asked, “Excuse me, are you filming inside the class?” “Professor…” Anthony tried to say he was sorry for the trouble and that he wasn't even recording. “No! Were you filming inside the class?” the lecturer asked again. “I'm sorry if I caused you trouble, professor, the camera is not even on.” The professor, angry at both of them for interrupting his class with such a silly incident, asked them to leave and returned to the lecture theater. Sophie was surprised. “He's a very nice person; I don't understand why he got so upset.” Anthony's shock turned into anger. “I thought this was a public space and I don't think there's any policy that forbids me to record the lecture! Couldn't he at least say it nicely? You get back in, I'll see you after your class, and meanwhile I'll take this darn thing off.” Anthony kissed Sophie goodbye and left for the library without the GoPro on his head.
Wearable computers—digital glasses, watches, headbands, armbands, and other apparel that can lifelog and record visual evidence—tell you where you are on the Earth's surface and how to navigate to your destination, alert you of your physical condition (heart and pulse rate monitors), and even inform you when you are running late to catch a plane, offering rescheduling advice. These devices are windows to others through social networking, bridges to storage centers, and, even on occasion, companions as they listen to your commands and respond like a personal assistant. Google Glass, for instance, is a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display that acts on voice commands like “take a picture” and allows for hands-free recording. You can share what you see live with your social network, and it provides directions right in front of your eyes. Glass even syncs your deadlines with speed, distance, and time data critical to forthcoming appointments.
The slim-line Narrative Clip is the latest gadget to enter the wearable space.
But Google is not alone. Microsoft was in the business of lifelogging more than a decade ago with its SenseCam device, which has now been replaced by the Autographer. Initially developed to help those suffering with dementia as a memory aid, the Autographer takes a 5-mp picture about 2,000 times a day and can be replayed in fast-forward mode in about 5 min. It is jam-packed with sensors that provide a context for the photo including an accelerometer, light sensor, magnetometer, infrared motion detector, and thermometer as well as a GPS chipset. The slim-line Narrative Clip is the latest gadget to enter the wearable space. Far less obtrusive than Glass or Autographer, it can be pinned onto your shirt, takes a snapshot every 30 s, and is so lightweight that you quickly forget you are even wearing it.
These devices make computers part of the human interface. But what are the implications of inviting all this technology onto the body? We seem to be producing innovations at an ever-increasing rate and expect adoption to match that cycle of change. But while humans have limitations, technologies do not. We can keep developing at an incredible speed, but there are many questions about trust, privacy, security, and the effects on psychological well-being that, if left unaddressed, could have major risks and often negative societal effects. The most invasive feature of all of these wearables, however, is the image sensor that can take pictures in an outward-looking fashion.
The claim is often made that we are under surveillance by CCTV even within leisure centers and change rooms. But having a Glass device, Autographer, or Narrative Clip recording while you are in a private space, like a “public” washroom, provides all sorts of nightmare scenarios. The camera is looking outward, not at you. Those who believe that they will remember to turn off the camera, will not be tempted to keep the camera “rolling,” or will “delete” the data gathered at a later date are only kidding themselves. We can hardly delete our e-mail records, let alone the thousands of pictures or images we take each day. The recording of sensitive data might also increase criminality rather than reduce it. The power to exclude, delete, or misrepresent an event is with the wearer and not the passive passerby. There is an asymmetry here that cannot be rectified unless the passive participant becomes an active wearer themselves. And this is not only unfeasible, but we would argue undesirable. At what point do we say enough is enough?
We are challenging fundamental human rights through the thoughtless adoption of new technologies that are enslaving us to a paradigm of instantaneous reality-TV-style living. We are seduced into providing ever more of our personal selves without any concerns for the protection of our personal data. Who owns the data emanating from these devices if the information is stored somewhere other than the device itself? Does that mean I lose my capacity to own my own set of histories relating to my physiological characteristics as they are sold on to third-party suppliers? Who will return my sense of self after I have given it away to someone else? We need to face up to these real and proportional matters because they not only have lawful implications but implications for our humanity.
IEEE Keywords: Wearable computing, Market research, Product design, Product development, Consumer behavior,Supply and demand, Digital computers, Google, Marketing and sales
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 K. Michael and M. G. Michael. (2013). No limits to watching. Commun. ACM. [Online]. 56(11), 26–28. Available: http://cacm.acm.org/ magazines/2013/11/169022-no-limits-to-watching/abstract
 Y. Gokyer, K. Michael, and A. Preston. Katina Michael discusses pervasive video recording in the accompaniment to “No Limits to Watching” on ACM’s vimeo channel. [Online]. Available: http://vimeo. com/77810226
 K. Michael. (2013). Social implications of wearable computing and augmediated reality in every day life. In Proc. IEEE Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS13), Toronto,
INSPEC: wearable computers, helmet mounted displays, innovation management, wearable computer, digital wearability scenarios, experimental technologies, market leaders, state-based regulations, innovation design practices, radical production, Google Glass product, optical head-mounted display unit
Citation: Deniz Gokye, Katina Michael, Digital Wearability Scenarios: Trialability on the run, IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine, Year: 2015, Volume: 4, Issue: 2, pp. 82-91, DOI: 10.1109/MCE.2015.2393005