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Netcam:

Wearable Wireless Webcam and Telemetry


(various versions of rig, leading toward current 'net connected WearCam)

Put yourself in my shoes and see the world from my perspective. Pictured above is an old communications antenna array on copper-lined helmet, not presently used. Now I use the "visualfilter" (pictured below). Through the VisualFilter, I perceive my surroundings by "viewing" rather than seeing, and this also means that another person can "view" the world exactly as I do. Closing the loop in this way (e.g. using the visual filter explained below) enables me to record exactly what I experience, as opposed to merely putting a camera on my head (above picture) in the style of Letterman, 60 Minutes, or the like, where the camera would not necessarily record exactly what the viewer was looking at.


Science fiction writers have wondered what it would be like if we could tap into the visual path from eye to brain, routing the visual information elsewhere. I doubt this is possible using today's technology, but using this camera system with radio communications, which I call "NetCam", I can presently send my visual field anywhere in the world, using the internet as a communications medium. NetCam together with the World Wide Web, means that others can see the world from my perspective. Go ahead: put yourself in my shoes - see the world from my point of view.
The visual filter

Sending visual information from my head-mounted cameras to one or more remote processors (like some SGI Reality Engines on the Internet) and then receiving a processed version of the visual information back at my head mounted display, gives rise to what I call the `Visual Filter'. While I can't put a Reality Engine in my backpack, I can still pipe my visual world through one or more such computers and get the same effect. A science fiction writer might envision implanting a computer anywhere in the world between the eye and the brain, but this is a long way off. Right now I'll live with my bulky communications equipment.

Simple processing like turning the image upside-down (like the upside-down prisms that people used to use to see if someone could learn to live in an upside-down world) would be possible, but of course there are far more interesting possibilities.

It's fun being a cyborg leading a somewhat nomadic lifestyle.

Applications of VisualFilter and NetCam:
There are other cameras on the Web, but as far as I know, this is the only wearable one (please let me know(mann@eecg.toronto.edu) if you find another wearable WebCam somewhere, or if you are interested in building one).

Privacy issues of NetCam and other video cameras:

NetCam has raised some interesting privacy issues. Rather than limit the discussion to privacy issues of NetCam alone, let us look at the big picture - at the broader societal issues surrounding visual privacy. NetCam has allowed us to see privacy in a different light, and to reconsider the notion of visual privacy. In particular, consider privacy issues of wearable cameras (like NetCam) versus surveillance cameras

Other diversions that may appear from time to time, in place of, or in addition to NetCam to further delay my thesis:


"The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions which have been hidden by the answers"
-James Baldwin

Wireless WearCam credits and acknowledgements