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Startup Wants To Peek Through Your Home's Wired Cameras 186

Posted by Soulskill
from the nope-nope-nope dept.
alphadogg writes "The little cameras in your home are multiplying. There are the ones you bought, perhaps your SLR or digital camera, but also those that just kind of show up in your current phone, your old phone, your laptop, your game console, and soon your TV and set-top box. Varun Arora, founder of startup GotoCamera in Singapore, wants you to turn them all on and let his company's algorithms analyze what they show, then sell the results as marketing data, in a sort of visual version of what Google and other firms do with search results and free email services."
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Startup Wants To Peek Through Your Home's Wired Cameras

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  • Jennicam 2.0? (Score:5, Informative)

    by dtmos (447842) * on Friday March 02, 2012 @04:06PM (#39224089)

    Startup wants to peek through the wired cameras in your home, sell the data

    Wait, wait. Could we go back and cover the part about why I would want them to do this, again?

    • Re:Jennicam 2.0? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 02, 2012 @04:07PM (#39224105)

      Its not what *you* want. It is what advertisers want. You are just the product being sold.

      • Re:Jennicam 2.0? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Bieeanda (961632) on Friday March 02, 2012 @04:14PM (#39224223)
        You missed a step. First they need to come up with some incentive, let's call it a Judas goat, to sign on and let their programs sift through our pictures. This is a little more complicated than web bugs and tracking cookies, since it requires more effort on our part than logging into Facebook or searching through Google.
        • Re:Jennicam 2.0? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by berashith (222128) on Friday March 02, 2012 @04:15PM (#39224241)

          no kidding. do i get a free house or something?

          • by NEDHead (1651195) on Friday March 02, 2012 @04:43PM (#39224743)

            Yessir. One free glass house coming up!

            • by EdIII (1114411)

              Quickest way to kill the idea.... logically at least.

              First time I come home from really spicy Mexican food or some questionable Indian curry, in my glass house, with my glass toilet... and I think the neighbors would kill the idea. Or me. I think I know which one would be first.

              You would *think* that seeing what you really don't want to see would stop the idea in its tracks... but.... explain spandex and banana hammocks where they have no reason being in the first place. If we have not already created la

        • by sunderland56 (621843) on Friday March 02, 2012 @04:28PM (#39224475)

          let's call it a Judas goat

          If they gave every user a goat, then they'd certainly come up with some footage to resell.

        • by HapSlappy_2222 (1089149) on Friday March 02, 2012 @06:07PM (#39225861)
          If only it worked this way:

          Dear Sir,

          I would like to sign up for your offer of (robotic voice) FREE GOAT. I have been made to understand that FREE GOAT is both adorable and delicious..

          Please ship FREE GOAT overnight directly to my doorstep at your earliest convenience, for I have become hungry while typing this sign-up request.

          Thank you,

          Guy willing to let a FREE GOAT vendor know he likes FREE GOAT for a FREE GOAT.
        • Re:Jennicam 2.0? (Score:4, Informative)

          by Barbara, not Barbie (721478) <barbara.hudson@g ... m minus math_god> on Friday March 02, 2012 @06:11PM (#39225919) Journal

          You missed a step. First they need to come up with some incentive, let's call it a Judas goat, to sign on and let their programs sift through our pictures.

          They already have - they've ripped off the government excuse - security. "Turn all your cameras on and be able to monitor everything." And if you do, they "give" you 1 gig of storage. (which they would need anyway to do any video datamining).

          And he wants the camera companies in on it - selling the cameras below cost in return for getting a kickback on the revenue stream.

          Can someone please take this retarded idea out behind the barn and shoot it?

    • Re:Jennicam 2.0? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mhajicek (1582795) on Friday March 02, 2012 @04:09PM (#39224133)
      For 2% off on up to 15 gallons of gas.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by amiga3D (567632)

        The way gas prices are headed that could add up to real money.

    • Basically three reasons :

      1.Money
      2.Money
      3.Money

    • by mcavic (2007672)
      I want a lot of things. That doesn't mean I'm going to get them.
    • by HapSlappy_2222 (1089149) on Friday March 02, 2012 @05:50PM (#39225681)
      Yeah. What's in it for me, Mr. Arora? And don't say "Access to ads for products you actually want!" because I'm a grown-up and know how to find things I want*. Besides, I doubt your "targeted ads" are any better than clicking I'm Feeling Lucky and dumping my CC# into the first 16 digit field I find.

      I could be persuaded to let you watch me pick my nose at $1000 per frame, though. Otherwise, you and your startup can feck right off, sir.

      *Who are we trying to kid, anyway? As a married father of two teenage daughters, I already KNOW what ads would best target ME: late-night Tampax/Midol shops, Rue 21 and Banana Republic clothing stores, and any vendor at the mall selling shit that confuses me. You should pay my kids as if they were on your marketing staff; they already did your research for you, buddy.
    • by modi123 (750470)

      Wait, wait. Could we go back and cover the part [...]

      I am certain this is *NOT* what they want you to do. As R.J. Madison would say, " *NO* going back.. *NO* covering up!".

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday March 02, 2012 @04:07PM (#39224117) Homepage Journal

    And ponies, too. Good luck with that...

  • Good Idea (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 02, 2012 @04:09PM (#39224141)

    I'd trade pictures of myself in my underwear for a "free" console. For an added fee, I'll even put clothes on.

  • by Neil_Brown (1568845) on Friday March 02, 2012 @04:11PM (#39224177) Homepage

    a startup that provides online storage and software for web and Wi-Fi cams

    Sadly omitted from the summary (albeit in the article) — the user gets "free" storage in exchange for the analytics.

    Far too little to convince me to share such data, though.

    • What are you talking about? It's a perfect exchange. I get free stuff at the price of being watched for about half an hour. After that, it's safe to assume who ever is watching has already gouged out one eye and is busy working on the other.
    • by mcmonkey (96054)

      Sadly omitted from the summary (albeit in the article) — the user gets "free" storage in exchange for the analytics.

      AKA, the Google business plan.

      The only difference here is their transfer is 'pull' while Google waits for you to 'push' your life on to their servers.

    • The information you provided means this cannot be a real thing that is happening; if it is I think my head just might implode.

      What it means is they want to watch us at all times using our own cameras, and in return they're offering, for our convenience, to snoop through our data. A few posts up we were talking about getting free goats for offering up constant home movies of ourselves. This is more like offering up constant home movies and, in return, getting a free goat that's constantly staring at you
  • Yeah right (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sean (422) on Friday March 02, 2012 @04:14PM (#39224219)

    Let a company spy on me constantly so it can make a profit by selling information about me? That sounds like a great deal for me. Where do I sign up?

    • by twotacocombo (1529393) on Friday March 02, 2012 @04:22PM (#39224347)
      www.facebook.com
  • No company or "customer" could possibly be this stupid.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 02, 2012 @04:19PM (#39224305)

      I think you give the common individual WAY too much credit. Just look how successful facebook is. :P

      • by Githaron (2462596)
        I can hand pick what information Facebook gets.
        • by causality (777677)

          I can hand pick what information Facebook gets.

          Can you perfectly control what everyone else posts about you? Can you absolutely lock down what else can be inferred about you by anyone who can take a long view of everything you post plus everything everyone else posts, such as Facebook staff and their partners?

          If you can, well ... that's a neat trick.

          • Can you perfectly control what everyone else says or does with information about you anywhere? This is not a Facebook problem, the solution is to find better friends.

            • by causality (777677) on Friday March 02, 2012 @05:14PM (#39225191)

              Can you perfectly control what everyone else says or does with information about you anywhere? This is not a Facebook problem, the solution is to find better friends.

              It would normally be difficult to aggregate and analyze all of that information in a single central place. At least without a court order. Facebook is a system designed to do just that, with no court order needed since you agreed to give them permission to the data. To ignore that obvious fact means you are either being dishonest or you're performing mental gymnastics to rationalize away legitimate concerns about Facebook, no doubt to dismiss the foolishness of using it. Otherwise it would be hard to continue doing so, which you fully intend to do.

              No, it's not difficult to see what's happening here and it's really transparent. You're just a different kind of fanboy and those pesky facts won't stop you. A Microsoft fanboy has to downplay the whole abuse of monopoly thing. An Apple fanboy has to downplay the disadvantages of walled gardens. You have to downplay the fact that the system is carefully designed to separate users from their privacy. That kind of selective blindness is a step towards psychosis, you know.

              Further, I appreciate the way I disagree with you, therefore I must have horrible friends (and by extension be a horrible person myself), but I tire of these little childish stabs that have no place in rational discourse. Facebook's privacy settings, even with friends who use them perfectly, don't stop Facebook and its marketers from analyzing data everyone posts to Facebook. My friends have the decency and self-respect not to betray my trust, but that's no good if I am communicating with them and the medium of communication itself is untrustworthy.

              In the case of using Facebook while desiring privacy, that's the situation. Thus, I don't use Facebook and neither do my friends. Isn't that so much easier than trying to perfectly control everybody else? When you don't use a system designed to violate privacy in the first place, suddenly there is no need for that.

              This is a problem quite unique to Facebook and systems like Facebook (such as MySpace before it, etc). Trying to generalize it the way you are doing in order to obfuscate that fact is beneath you, or should be.

        • by idontgno (624372)
          That has a striking resemblance to "I can quit any time I want" and "That only happens to other people."
        • by geekoid (135745)

          Not really. Can you control what others say about you?
          Facebook can build pretty accurate profile of people who have never signed up for the services based on what others have said.

    • Rarely has a business gone bankrupt because they underestimated the stupidity of the average consumer. There will be a large number of people who don't know enough or care about their privacy who will line up to get "free" storage.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Indeed, and that seems to be advertiser's market right now -- only those with less than 3 digits in their IQs. But it probabably works, since there are 150 million Americans with two digit IQs.

    • by markana (152984)

      You're new around here, aren't you? All they have to do is add some tangible, meaningless incentive for the customer and they'll have people signing up in droves. Free storage, free email, maybe a social site with some music and games - they'll get tons of takers. Add in some real prizes, say, a monthly random drawing for a car or a vacation, and stand back.

      The lesson of Facebook is - a very large number of people either don't value their privacy, or don't recognize when they're giving it away. They'll

  • Oh, you evil bastards!
  • by fallen1 (230220) on Friday March 02, 2012 @04:20PM (#39224311) Homepage

    Fuck you. No.

    Pardon me for being crude but - what are these nutjobs thinking? All it takes is someone in the household going "Sure, we'll do that!" and then little 15 year old Suzie walks by the camera on the way from her bathroom to her bedroom and *boom!* the company behind this has just analyzed child porn. Congrats!

    I cover up or disconnect all cameras in my home that might be turned on remotely for one simple reason -- it is my private home. Period. The end.

    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      I think the end result will be more like chat roulette. Nothing but guys showing their junk.
    • by QuasiSteve (2042606) on Friday March 02, 2012 @04:48PM (#39224803)

      [...] and then little 15 year old Suzie walks by the camera on the way from her bathroom to her bedroom and *boom!* the company behind this has just analyzed child porn

      Putting aside for a moment that perhaps such households should think for a moment before opting into such plans, I have to ask... ...what, exactly, would be wrong with that scenario?

      For one thing, it's not child pornography. The law may perhaps interpret it as such, especially if it ends up being treated as such by the person caught on camera / their legal guardians, but naked people walking in front of a camera does not necessarily pornography make.

      For another, my computer could be analyzing child pornography all day long every day of the week. Perhaps it's analyzing it to see if it's known pornography or new pornography. If it's new pornography, perhaps it's trying facial recognition to see if this is of a person whose case has already been handled, or that it may be a new case and should be flagged as such.

      But given that the system doesn't know what the material is in the first place, perhaps it's analyzing the picture, sees what looks like a human form, detects that either there's no clothing or the person happens to walk around in a wetsuit that matches their skin color, and either way decides to discard the data.
      The analyzing software may be much more interested in that bright rectangular surface called your TV to see what programs you watch.

      People are way, way too jumpy about this stuff. Next thing you know an adult can't go to a lake for a swim because there's also kids who like diving into the water and have issues keeping their bikini bottoms on* and you just might see that. Oh noes.

      It's different if that's the purpose of going swimming there in the first place, of course. Just as it would be different if one of the goals of this company would be to catch people naked (adults: blackmail, kids: CP market?), or if, as part of its operation, the material would be made available to third parties who in turn might have such motives.

      ( * apparently, that's a thing? Here, have a plug: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/525823883/swimwear-that-stays-put-made-locally-made-responsi [kickstarter.com] )

      Don't get me wrong, I'm not opting into such a program anytime soon.. but the whole "what if it catches X doing Y!?" thing? Not the biggest problem with this by a long shot.

      • by fallen1 (230220)

        For one thing, it's not child pornography. The law may perhaps interpret it as such, especially if it ends up being treated as such by the person caught on camera / their legal guardians, but naked people walking in front of a camera does not necessarily pornography make.

        I fully agree with you. I went down the road that it seems our governing bodies* want to take to make a point. I personally don't believe that an image of a nude person is, per se, pornography. Nor do I believe it is immoral or illegal or p

      • by Cederic (9623)

        diving into the water and have issues keeping their bikini bottoms on

        You kidding me? You've never been swimming with friends and see someone dive in and then have to look around to find out where their clothing ended up?

        Happens more to men than women in my experience, but that's also because
        - men tend not to wear one-piece swimsuits
        - men have large bellies making it easier for clothing attached to the waist to slide down past the hips
        - men are more likely to dive in while socially swimming

        But hey, a little accidental nakedness is harmless.

    • by antdude (79039)

      What about microphones/mics? How do you turn those off without physically disconnecting that are part of the devices?

  • Sounds like we should give them the same image as one reproduces by sitting on the copy machine, sans trou.
  • by paleo2002 (1079697) on Friday March 02, 2012 @04:24PM (#39224393)
    Sounds like a great deal, actually. I get free off-site storage and all I have to do it put little post-it notes over the webcams on my computers. I'd change the color each day, just to give their consumer data algorithm something different to look at. Only draw-back is the resulting spam email with offers for pills that will turn my penis yellow or electric blue.
  • wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by squidflakes (905524) on Friday March 02, 2012 @04:28PM (#39224465) Homepage

    So, if I got this then I could guarantee that all of my spam would be about weight loss, masturbation aids, and (naughty) maid services? I don't see the difference from my current crop of spam.

  • by wbr1 (2538558) on Friday March 02, 2012 @04:28PM (#39224473)
    My botnet already does this. Except I don't sell marketing data to advertisers. Visit RealAmatuerTube.ru. /TongueInCheek
  • Sign up for the service, get the freebies...and then paste a screenshot of goat.se in front of the camera.

  • We very well may be heading toward an Orwellian future. Sadly we seem to be selling ourselves while making it happen more so than it being thrust upon us. I'm still dumbfounded by shows like the Jersey Shore, Kardasians, etc. These people are rich because they act like (or are) complete morons and do so in front of a camera. Then the masses happily do the same on Youtube for free. And now this. Lets' not forget the domestic drones and other cameras that have been slowly invading our privacy for years.

    I reme

  • No way dude. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) on Friday March 02, 2012 @04:34PM (#39224575)
    If you want to sell some porn, hire some actors you cheapskates.
  • by Medievalist (16032) on Friday March 02, 2012 @04:35PM (#39224581)

    I don't think these guys are going to get what they are looking for.

    Or maybe they are - if they are going to sell the data to Durex and Trojan...

  • by Lashat (1041424) on Friday March 02, 2012 @04:36PM (#39224605)

    We are timing the product to launch at the same time these cameras become available. We are making it easier than ever to block intrusive cameras in your home.

    Look for our product out soon.

    Electrical Tape.

  • Is it 1983- are we getting ready for 1984?

    Cameras in our home watching us? Plus bad.

  • by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdot@uberm00. n e t> on Friday March 02, 2012 @04:37PM (#39224629) Homepage Journal

    For now, his company makes money by charging manufacturers for offering its services with their products, or from users that upgrade to extra storage. Currently most such cameras are USB-driven, but a new wave of cheap Wi-Fi models are on the way, and manufacturers like Samsung and Panasonic are putting them into TVs and other devices, mainly for motion control and video conferencing.

    "USB is a sunset industry" for cameras, Arora said. He showed off a tiny wireless camera from partner Trek 2000 International, about the size of a roll of film. It sells online for about US$65, and other manufacturers will soon launch for less than $50. Unlike USB models, Wi-Fi cameras don't need to be plugged into a computer or network, and usually just require a power source, which makes them ideal for security and monitoring.

    As the prices of such devices fall, manufacturers will be squeezed, and GotoCamera proposes to provide a portion of the online fees it receives back to them, a rare ongoing revenue stream he compares to disposable blades for shaving razors, that must be continually purchased.

    "What we say to them is, 'Please accept that you're a commodity, and let us bring the Gillette model to you,'" Arora said.

    Their primary audience seems to be camera manufacturers, not users. The indirect offer to consumers seems to be, "buy this camera at a discount and in exchange we get access to its video feed."

    Which is not enough to make me buy one, but hey, maybe it's enough for others. Or it'll just be in the fine print and people won't know about it.

    • by JobyOne (1578377)

      Or it'll just be in the fine print and people won't know about it.

      Probably that one. The crap that is regularly hidden in fine print on boxes and buried in wordy EULAs is horrifying.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      "The indirect offer to consumers seems to be, "buy this camera at a discount and in exchange we get access to its video feed.""

      Hm. Cheap wifi webcam to stick on a robotic telescope?

    • by cffrost (885375)

      +1 Purple Heart [wikimedia.org] for RTFA for us. Thanks for your service.

  • Isn't it cheaper to just buy USB memory (or disks or..)?
  • Google, Bing (from Microsoft), and others track your search requests but also provide free access to their search results when you ask for them.
    GMail (from Google). Live Mail (from Microsoft) and others may scan your e-mail, but they also block spam and give you a functional e-mail account.

    GotoCamera is not from a rich company and only seems interested in selling your data to marketers. Could they at least offer some sort of "We'll call 911 for you..." or other feature that would at least be a benefit to th

  • by idontgno (624372) on Friday March 02, 2012 @04:54PM (#39224881) Journal

    Did he really just say that?

    Did he just call me a fungible mass material, like pork bellies and orange juice? Am I going to be traded as futures at the Chicago Board of Trade?

    My God. He just called us sheep. No, not even sheep. Less than sheep. Meat. Raw materials. Resources, in the most over-the-top insulting reading of "Human Resources" possible.

    Wow. I guess some people have no subtlety. And no shame. And scum like this wants to turn the world into the largest episode of The Prisoner ever.

    Let me reiterate. I am not a number. I am a free man.

    I must respectfully decline your intriguing offer. I will not be subscribing to your newsletter.

    • Did he really just say that?

      No, he called the cheapo cameras and, by extension, their manufacturers a commodity. But this is slashdot, let's not let reality get in the way of a good rant ;-)

    • by pz (113803)

      Did he just call me a fungible mass material, like pork bellies and orange juice?

      No, you have misread the article. The comment was directed at the manufacturers of small video camera, referring to their product --- that being small, ubiquitous cameras. He's saying, please change the way you view your market and think of it as amenable to the well-known schemes used by large personal care items manufacturers.

      (This is an excellent example of needing a -1 incorrect moderation.)

  • So you've purchased a cellphone with microphone, video camera and GPS capability. And you've also purchased an extremely high-powered computing device to play games on that, coincidentally, has high-powered voice-processing and surveillance capabilities (e.g. Xbox360 w/kinect). On neither of these devices do you have admin/root privileges. And both of them have been shown to connect to their "home" manufacturers/owners and send back data periodically.

    So... suppose law enforcement decides to publish their

    • Thank you for reminding me of the TV that was always on in "1984". Ever present, ever vigilant and recording.

      If only Orwell/Blair had known what we can do with technology today, he would have had a field day writing "2014".

  • This will do wonders for duct tape sales.
  • "But there's gonna be a meter on your bed
    That will disclose
    What everybody knows "

  • How about......NO!!!!
  • They seem to have forgotten something:
    What benefit does the user get from giving up their privacy? i.e. what is their motivation for agreeing to this? ...Or dont they get a choice at all (other than to not buy any product with this 'feature')?

  • by ameline (771895)
    Look, the last thing I need is more penis enlargement ads.... :-)
  • You don't need to ask permission, you only need to know how to google. Lots of people install cameras and leave them wide open for anyone to view.
    Search for anything with inurl:/view.shtml [google.com]

    This has been known for a long time.

    There is even a bunch of blogs and videos detailing exactly how to do this:
    http://www.mydigitallife.info/hack-to-search-and-view-free-live-webcam-with-google-search/ [mydigitallife.info]
    http://www.wonderhowto.com/how-to-view-live-cams-through-google-155767/ [wonderhowto.com]

  • The business world is becoming obsessed with the value that can be attached to knowing more about people's habits and using that knowledge to sell them stuff. There isn't infinite value in this stuff, though. The more you collect, the less value individual data points have. Ultimately, it will be self-defeating - when every competitor knows everything there is to know about their customer base, there's no point in knowing anything. At which point, I suppose, they take the final step in monetizing the data b

  • By accident this system takes a picture of an under age child with less than 100% clothing coverage - Mr Arora's system just made a child porn image. I suspect that Singapore has strict liability and very harsh penalties for such crimes.
  • How many pictures of minor children in various states of undress to they need to upload before they get shut down by onerous child pornography laws?

"The vast majority of successful major crimes against property are perpetrated by individuals abusing positions of trust." -- Lawrence Dalzell

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