Google Clips is Watching You: Google's new action camera automatically snaps shots, records video
Today’s “Made By Google” event was a look into the future of smartphones and connected smart home devices, but one accessory is actually reminiscent of the past; 1984, to be exact. Among the myriad gadgets announced by Google today is a small action camera with an interesting (and potentially worrying) feature: Google Clips.
Google Clips is a wearable (or “clippable”) micro-camera that is meant to “capture more genuine and spontaneous moments of the people-and pets!-who matter to you [sic].” In addition to being a fairly run-of-the-mill action camera capable of taking a quick photo here and there, Google Clips uses “machine learning” to automatically snap a shot when it judges conditions are just right for the perfect photo.
According to Google, users can teach the camera who the important people in their life are so that, once turned on, the camera will always be watching and waiting for that perfect moment.
The intent behind the camera is to free up parents and pet-owners so they can be a part of the action rather than sit behind a camera or smartphone taking pictures. However, the execution is a bit… unsettling. Clips not only takes still photos but can also capture a few seconds of action, and it does this automatically.
Google addressed these privacy concerns with a few features embedded in the camera. First, the device will have a light that indicates when it’s recording or capturing a video or image. The data giant was also quick to point out that images and clips stay on the device until a user chooses to save them. Until then, image previews will sync to the user’s smartphone via the Google Clips app. It was also mentioned that the machine learning behind the automated shots take place solely on the device itself. However, it must be said that no device is foolproof, and a compromised Google Clips device may be an unwanted gateway into someone’s personal life. It’s a terrifying (and entirely plausible) possibility. We’ll have to wait and see how secure Clips really is, and only time will give us that answer.
Google Clips will retail “soon” for USD $249 in the United States. It will be compatible with Google’s own Pixel smartphones, the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S8 lines, and the iPhone 6, 6S, 7, and 8.