on the record

Think Google Glass invades your privacy? Here’s a wristband that records audio 24 hours a day

August 22, 2013
Obsession
Mobile Web
August 22, 2013

So you heard a great joke at the pub last night but don’t remember the punchline. Was it was a priest or a lumberjack who walked into a bar with a three-legged okapi? Fret no more, because a Cincinnati-based company wants to produce a solution to the problem of lousy memories. No, it’s not a notebook. It’s an always-on audio-recording wristband called Kapture, and it will go live on Kickstarter on next month.

Here’s how it works: The device is always on but stores no more than the last 60 seconds of sound, in much the same way that many CCTV cameras overwrite their recordings after a set period. The point is not to have an exhaustive record of every sound ever encountered (which if you live in urban areas would consist largely of traffic and sirens) but to preserve something immediately after the fact.

What might such a device be used for, other than bar humor? Kapture’s founders suggest several occasions on which it might come in handy:

  • The reaction of a child experiencing something for the first time
  • The unexpected interactions of daily life
  • A humorous anecdote from your family reunion
  • The birth of an inside joke with friends
  • A solitary epiphany during your drive home

Whether most people talk to themselves while driving, and whether what seemed so amusing at the family reunion remains funny months later, are debatable. But there are believers. Kapture has already raised $300,000 in seed funding. The co-founders hope to raise another $150,000 on Kickstarter to take the device from prototype to production. That is a modest goal by Kickstarter’s standards, and there are probably enough people who like the idea.

Wearable tech has really come on to the scene recently thanks to the increased compatibility with smartphones and other electronics devices. It’s time to start taking notice,” Kapture’s co-founder Matthew Dooley wrote this week. The technology speaks to a larger trend. Along with the Google Glass face-mounted camera and Dropcam’s ever-streaming wireless webcam, Kapture’s “fashionable” wristband with “a retro-inspired sound grill” brings us ever closer to a society of always-on peer-to-peer surveillance.

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