All Eyes on You
With or without their consent, it estimated that the average American is caught on CCTV as many as 75 times a day. At the gas station filling up your car, on the highway on your way to work, outside your favorite burger joint at lunch, at the grocery store on your way home… It seems that just by going out in public , we consent to being on candid camera.
Modern technologies have allowed our societies to become more connected than at any other point in recorded history, and have facilitated our access to almost infinite sources of information. In the context of Public Safety and Security concerns, however, those same technologies may also compromise our personal privacy by constantly collecting personal information without our even being aware.
In a world increasingly characterized by CCTV and public surveillance, how can we maintain our anonymity?
Indian entrepreneur Saif Siddiqui has developed a proto-cloaking technology that aims to help protect individual privacy in from the public eye.
A Public ISHU
Although the technology is centered around still flash photography and is limited by the fact that it does not function with video or non-flash photography, Siddiqui’s innovation is our first line of defense in protecting our ownership over our likeness.
Originally conceived as a method for high-profile celebrities to fight paparazzi, Siddiqui has designed a scarf called “ISHU” made of a unique fabric covered with thousands of highly-reflective nanocrystals arranged in angular patterns. In the presence of flash photography, the nanocrystals reflect the light from the flash directly back at the camera lens. The magnified reflection effectively obscures the subject’s face, and removes any trace of physically identify facial features.
The designer explains that the name “ISHU” is a contraction of “issue” and “shhh”, touching on growing concerns surrounding public surveillance, and the desire to preserve personal privacy.
Because the technology is centered around still flash photography and it cost upwards of $460.00, the scarf has quickly become an A-list favorite among celebrities. It may not be an all-purpose invisibility cloak, but even for the average 21st-century citizen, Siddiqui’s design represents a viable way to protect our privacy and maintain some degree of control over our own image and how it is used publicly. Future cloaking designs will surely build on both the technology and concerns behind this high-profile ISHU.