Location As Fundamental

In August 2009 whilst on a car trip back from GGKerr Ballooning in Canowindra, NSW Australia I struck up a discussion with Geoff Lubich regarding what the operating systems of body worn technologies fundamentally lacked in order for all manner of data to be better leveraged for educational purpose and re-use. 

We were at the time exploring how these head worn camera technologies such as the military VIO POV device could be used to capture the journey of an avid hot air balloonists. We also explored the possibilities of perhaps setting up a trial captured vision from the point-of-view of the operator could be on-sold to those who had paid to be taken on that tourist balloon trip. 

We had also for number of weeks been testing a dash camera [model needed] as both a body worn camera for attachment to a miners helmet (robust) or to use that camera in a hot air balloon. The camera purported to not only capture photos and video but also a complex array of altitude, longitude, temperature and geolocation data which could be extracted from the video via a computer application. 

The devices were extraordinarily cheap by comparison to what we had been developing and making ourselves and it was the allure of the enriched metadata that drew our attention to the devices for consideration to use in an educational context. It was at that moment that it dawned on us both that if a head worn camera could not only capture timestamped video and photos, that a fundamental attribute was missing from the device types we developed or sold. We immediately realised upon research that the very same location enabled features were being developed and advertised as available for purchase around the world. 

Location as fundamental to the core infrastructure of information transmission, capture and cross checking had emerged almost overnight after years of speculative rumours as to whether the device types we were using would ever adopt such features. It was also at this time that I had been considering how with Google Maps, Foursquare and other location enabled apps appearing for use on mobile phones that the role of “whereabouts” was a definitive and fundamental grounding for not only the facilities of the device but also the identity authentication of the device with user and obviously that user in relation to other devices and users. 

The location enabled head worn camera therefore had solved one further facet of the learner authentication which met Australian Quality Training Frameworks (AQTF) requirements of the time. We had been constantly asked in workshops how it would be possible to “prove” that it was actually a single learners demonstration of a skill or experience even though the video recording could clearly visualise the wearer, and that audio provided with that video was an other level of proof.  

A location enabled camera also introduced and changed the manner of my research question, from a simple head worn camera to that of a networked and “intelligent” device, meaning that the device itself was systems connected. That part excited us a great deal because then it seemed possible that the IPTC data that is stored with a camera was not only enhanced it also meant that the device itself with its onboard manufactured model no etc. could be part of the array of metadata that would “triangulate” what was being submitted for assessment. 

The dawn of intelligent and ambiently connected devices by virtue of connection with the internet had arrived. So had Facebook, with a renewed vengeance, no longer just a high school dating site but a global consortia identity management profiling platform.

In essence, the awareness of a networked location enabled head worn or body worn camera system was as a node in a system, itself traceable, trackable and in fact “aware’ of itself. I changed my research question at the time to read "…what are the socio-ethical implications of location enabled head worn cameras” which was to prove the basis for choosing the sets of interview questions required to better understand the significance of GIS in relation to the device user. 

Location became the “everything” or first point for our conversations and it was at this point that we realised there had been significant ball game change that we were just on the cusp of. 

We began purchasing and trailing the VIO POV military camera, the first of the Looxcie headworn cameras and also the first GIS enabled Go Pro camera. We began also testing and achieving success at “casting” or “vlogging” to the Internet video from the Looxcie device. Much of our discussions at the time across the VET training sector I recall were focussed on what this capability might mean if there was a provider that could offer free “streaming” of data in live time across the internet. I also recall the abject horror that the conservative educators we were engaged with in a number of projects expressed as it became apparent what these hands-free head worn technologies might mean in the hands of a pedophile or a pornographer.

It is important to note here also that around that time the ‘POV’ category was added to online pornography websites as pornography now utilised the hands-free point-of-view perspective and found excited customers interested in that exploitative first person perspective. We began to experience feedback from our clients that the association with the ‘POV’ moniker would need be shifted as it was too closely aligned with a sector with a vast juxtaposition to that of education.