Every few years someone digs out the idea of eye-activated cameras, dusts it off and sees if it can sell. Blincam is the latest attempt from Japan that has now surpassed its crowdfunding goals of ¥1,000,000 (US$9330) to earn ¥8966000 (US$83,665)
Blincam, created by Shota Takase, is a camera that mounts onto a pair of regular glasses. The camera will take a single photo each time the user gives a forceful wink. The Blincam can then transfer the images via Bluetooth to a user’s smartphone or by connecting it via USB.
The goal of the product, according to Takase, was to allow people to capture moments where they might not have or want a traditional camera or smartphone at hand. Examples given include capturing a baby’s first steps or taking pictures during food preparation. Living in the moment is the mantra.
It’s not a revolutionary idea and that’s the problem. Many companies have attempted this idea in several variations and the same issues crop up every time.
Right off the bat there’s the question of practicality. What you’re supposed to do if you don’t wear glasses? Well, the project suggests you get a pair of blank frames, of which they’re selling several pairs, which you can clip the Blincam onto. This does kind of defeat the whole “seeing things through your own eyes rather than through a screen” idea.
Another issue is privacy. People like to know if they’re being recorded, and those that value their privacy and are likely to be uncomfortable with a camera that feels this intrusive. It draws on exactly the same as the many concerns that were raised around Google Glass’s photographic abilities.
Another concern is accidentally firing the camera. The developers estimate that from regular blinking there will only be a 10% chance of this happening, but just think about how many times a day you blink.
More importantly, it will be hard to tell if everything you’re looking at is actually in frame since it’s attached to one side of your head, meaning you’ll be heavily guesstimating. There’s no image stabilisation and no support for video.
However, the Blincam does boast an impressive 8 hours of battery life on standby and 4 hours when active. It is compatible with iOS and Android systems, and quite small at 85mm (3.3 inches) x 17mm (0.6 inches) x 10mm (0.4 inches), weighing just 25 grams (0.05 pounds).
The central problem with the Blincam is that we’ve seen this concept time and time again. What’s more, even when previous attempts had a lot more bells and whistles than this iteration, they still didn’t take off. In a time when Sony and Samsung are patenting technology to produce cameras that can fit inside a contact lens, products like Blincam (though well meaning) seem quaint. This makes it even more surprising that the Blincam is being sold at around US$185 when any number of small gimmick clip-on cameras are retailing at around US$100.
If you’re interested in checking out the Blincam you can go to its Makuake crowdfunding page here.