Samsung's brand new smartwatch—Galaxy Gear—is awkward, bulky, and probably unnecessary. But thanks to its perfectly placed discreet camera, it's a killer creepshot-snapping machine. Great.
We've talked about the creepshot problem in the context of Google Glass, which with its first-person perspective camera has its own set of privacy problems. That's why it's been summarily banned from strip clubs, movie theatres, and bars—exactly the types of places rife with incriminating creepshot (or outright illegal) potential.
But Google Glass is a computer you wear on your face. It's attention-grabbing and conspicuous and screams I AM A CYBORG. At least in its current iteration, you can see Google Glass coming. In spite of its heft, Galaxy Gear is relatively inconspicuous. And what are you going to do, make bar patrons check their watches at the door?
At this point we're all very familiar with creepshots. They're clandestinely captured smartphone photos that objectify young women, zeroing in on their breasts and asses without their consent. They rose to fame through backcorners of Reddit, and although the original creepshot Subreddit has been banned, copycat after copycat after copycat has cropped up to fill the filthy void. One such Subreddit, CandidFashionPolice, is still very much alive, and the problem in general is not going away thanks to Reddit's dedication to so-called "free speech."
You don't have to look on Reddit to find creepshots though. Try Tumblr where, in spite of Yahoo's charge to clean up the site, the creepshot tag still runs rampant. Or Twitter, where there are not one, not two, but countless creepshot feeds and tags. Sure, social networks can be scrubbed over and over again for this kind of content, but just like an invasive weed, they'll just keep coming back.
At least before, taking creepshots took a modicum of effort. When you take a picture with your smartphone, you look like you're taking a picture with your smartphone. Your phone has to be angled just so and you have to position your hand in such a way that lets you get the shot. With Google Glass, you have to touch the side of your specs. You look like you're doing something curious, if not suspicious, because again, it's a computer on your face. On the other hand, with Galaxy Gear, the camera is accessible by swiping top to bottom on the homescreen. You take a picture by tapping on the screen, and you can upload that photo straight to Facebook or Twitter right from your watch. But for all anyone else knows, you're checking the forecast or setting an alarm.
The first time I used the Galaxy Gear, I inadvertently took a short video of the man across from me. He had no idea. I proceeded to snap several shots of him just by tapping on the screen. It's that easy. It looked like I was checking the weather or reading a text. And I could have filled up 4GB of spy shots just like it.
A discreetly placed camera is certainly a design feature, but it's also an accidental enabler for one of the internet's worst predilections. We reached out to Samsung to see if they had considered the creepshot risk factor, and we've yet to hear back. Maybe they don't know. Maybe they don't care. Galaxy Gear might be a lot of things, but one of them will be an inadvertent tool of the seedy victimisation of women. Meet the future. It's for pervs.