New CCTV camera-blinding anti-surveillance glasses
A Tweet by someone I follow on Twitter alerted me to the Reflectables Kickstarter project, which is raising funds to make two styles of highly-reflective, high-spec eyewear—one style to make their wearer blindingly obvious at night and another that will also blind security cameras that use infrared light!
As the Kickstarter page puts it:
“Maintain your privacy from surveillance cameras. Alert drivers of your presence while biking. Reflectacles make you seen and unseen!”
These Ray-Ban-styled eyeglass frames are designed by “custom-spectacles-craftsman” Scott Urban. They’re so-called Reflectables because they’re faced with retro-reflective film—like street signs (or the back of my bike trailer).
The Original style will be available in seven colours of retro-reflective film that reflects visible light only.
A second Reflectables Ghost style will features frames faced with a silver retro-reflective film that can reflect both visible light and invisible infrared light. This extra feature is specifically designed to blind CCTV security cameras that rely on infrared for their night vision.
Reflectables won’t be cheap. A single pair of the Reflectables Originals will cost (in U.S. dollars) $85 to $95. An a single pair of Reflectables Ghosts will cost $125. There will be a variety of lens options for each.
It all sounds rather gimmicky to me. A cyclist would be ill-advised, I think, to rely on these for night visibility. And the invisible infrared-reflecting thing is not omly novel and gimmicky but has a strong scofflaw/tinfoil hat twist.
So who are these not-inexpensive frames aimed at? They have an undeniably exclusive/goofy/niche/retro/tech vibe and my first inclination was to see them as yet more hipster-bait, not unlike another Kickstarter project, the silly Astrohaus Freewrite, which I described at the beginning of the year as a distraction-free typewriter for hipsters.
As with the Freewrite, there is very a serious narrative built up around Reflectables to justify and explain why the world needs what they offer. And like the Freewrite, the capabilities offered by Reflectables weren’t entirely new to me either.
Life imitating art (or television at least)
Fans of the short-lived 2013-2014 Fox TV sci-fi drama Almost Human, set in the year 2048, may remember the second episode, called “Skin”, where two killers spray their faces with something that absolutely blinds security cameras.
Filmed right here in a futurized Vancouver, B.C. and starring Karl Urban as a male human police detective paired with a male android partner, Almost Human should not be confused with the 1992 NBC-TV series Mann & Machine, which was set sometime early in the 21st century and featured a male police detective paired with a female android, played by the inimatable Yancy Butler.
Eyeglasses with a futuristic frame story
The Reflectables Kickstarter page has a short video which is set in the early 21st century and also deals with humans and their Android partners (in the the form of millions of mobile devices). The video opens with a terribly timely and grimly prophetic quote from Philip K. Dick’s 1968 science fiction novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?“:
“There will come a time when it isn’t ‘They’re spying on me through my phone’ anymore. It will be ‘My phone is spying on me'”
Then a narrator, filmed in security camera black and white and made anonymous by a pair of flaring Reflectables Ghost frames, tells the viewer how, in 2017, the U.S. Congress passed—and President Trump signed into law—the Mass Acquisition of Civilian Apparatus Act, allowing the U.S. government to install a surveillance patch in all mobile devices.
“We can”, explains the narrator, “encrypt our phones. We can secure our computers and we can erase our faces from the cameras”.
So, wow! I stand corrected. These Reflectables Ghost frames are clearly principled and essential gear for everyone in the New Progressive Underground.
They’re not just gadgety Ray-Ban knockoffs with 3M Scotchlite reflective film stuck on them. And I was certainly wrong to assume that they were aimed principally at well-heeled hipsters and graffiti taggers.
But I still think that they should have been called “InfraRay-Bans”. Click the images to enlarge them.