As a Londoner, I’m used to being recorded at almost every public place I visit, whether on the bus, in a shop or simply walking down the street. It’s part and parcel of living in an overpopulated metropolis, a city targeted by terrorists, inhabited by its fair share of wackos. Home is an oasis away from this pervading surveillance culture. But the Circle from Logi (formerly Logitech), the company’s new “home connection” device, wants to build a positive case for having an always-on camera in your living room too.
At its heart, the Circle is a connected home monitoring camera, connected to an accompanying app and video back-up service. Capturing 720p video at a 135-degree field of view, it sits in your home, connected to your Wi-Fi connection, recording events as its sensors pick up audio or movement in its vicinity.
So far, so “standard home monitoring” camera, but a clever design trick elevates it above the standard fixed-spot recording cams. The spherical, HAL-like main camera unit can sit and pivot in a magnetic charging hub, which can be wall mounted and juice the Circle’s battery for three hours of portable wireless recording – ideal for moving a recording around the home as an ad-hoc camcorder.
The idea of actively using the Circle, as opposed to having it simply serve as an ominous digital eye on your home, is what Logi hopes will alleviate the concerns of those that consider home monitoring equipment an intrusive force. Though the Circle can be used as a security camera, Logi primarily wants it to act as an ever-ready way of recording those blink-and-you’ll miss it day-to-day life moments. Maybe it’s baby’s first steps, or a You’ve Been Framed-worthy clip of your uncle acting like a drunken tit – the Circle will be ready to capture it all.
You’ve two options when it comes to viewing the Circle’s recordings, each accessible from within its accompanying smartphone and tablet app. Firstly, there’s the option to livestream remotely in real-time whatever the camera sees directly to your phone – a built-in microphone and speaker pairing allows the viewer to communicate with those in front of the Circle, while a light on the camera itself blinks and a speaker bleeps to inform those present that they are being watched. While Logi stresses that those using the Circle in a household full of people should ensure that its installation is consensual for all present, the light at least means those that don’t want to be recorded won’t be caught off guard.
The second option is an event-viewing mode, again within the app. Logi presents recordings triggered by the camera’s sensors by a scrolling list of time-stamped “Bubbles”, which you can scroll through to check as you please. These are colour coded based on the level of activity the Circle has detected, allowing you to differentiate between the moments when someone’s simply hobbling past the camera, and when your kids are attempting to have a clandestine party in front of it without permission.
As standard, each Circle comes with 24 hours of cloud-based backup recordings (the camera has a Wi-Fi connection for automatic uploads), ready to be downloaded at your leisure. For those that want to back-up longer stretches, a subscription option will boost the volume of clips you can save. As yet, pricing for these extended cloud services have yet to be revealed. All feeds and saved clips are encrypted against “man in the middle attacks”, meaning anyone trying to get a look in on your personal clips should have plenty of trouble doing so.
The thought of having a camera watching your home at all times may be unnerving, but Logi’s presentation of the device certainly does its best to make the “Big Brother” sinister surveillance undertones of such a product slide away. I’m sure that’s how all the trouble in Orwellian states begins – a passive acceptance of monitoring under the guise of security or convenience. But in a world where a digital social standing is currency in and of itself, the opportunity to passively record a would-be viral hit at home has its own appeal. The elegance of the app and camera itself also makes it a very attractive way of capturing more intimate moments, without the interruption of digging out a camera when you should be soaking up a memory. You’ll have to be the judge of whether that’s worth exchanging an off-camera life for.
Hitting stores in early October, expect to pay £159 for the Logi Circle.