If you’d asked me earlier today if I’d like to turn my phone into a hidden spy device, concealed James Bond style in a cup, I’d have thought you were mad. Who would want to do that? But that was before I came across Spycup.
Perhaps in a stroke of marketing genius they are presenting the tool as a revolution in citizen journalism at the same time as having a name that suggests altogether different applications. One can imagine that annoying friend who likes to gossip recording all kinds of things for ‘future use’ using the device.
There’s got to be a better way! Coffee cup is the perfect everyday object in which we can conceal a recording device without raising suspicion. I believe that Spy Cup can revolutionize the field of citizenship journalism.
Spycup via KickStarter
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though – what on earth is Spycup anyway? It’s a one-way glass cup that looks a little like a thermos flask for coffee. Except instead of packing in a focus group that you want to spy on while their dogs try out different brands of horsemeat, I mean dogfood, Mad Men style, you drop in your iPhone (it only works for newer iPhone models at present).
The device is then fully concealed, but the user can take photos with it using a discrete remote, and upload those images instantly into the crowd, protecting them from subsequent seizure or deletion by wayward law enforcement officials.
In their demonstration video, you can see that the device allows a clear recording despite being fully obscured from the outside.
When they contacted Tech Function they noted that the device doesn’t require the use of their app, and is fully functional with existing live reporting and video services such as Meerkat and Periscope.
We’ve all seen the pictures of police, even in supposedly democratic nations (I’m convinced Theresa May will be determined to ban this in the UK given the recent spate of illogical policy from her department), seizing phones or harassing those attempting to document public events. This device will allow them to approach the scene with more discretion and get the shots they need to get the story out.
Perhaps it’s just the name, but it is a product with the potential to be a little controversial as at least someone had to make a distinct effort to film you before (Spycup themselves note that a cheap $300 device, with poor filming capability is the only realistic alternative), this makes it very easy for random, private encounters, to end up on tape.
Overall, though, much as it applies to any technology it can, of course, be misused but the benefits to activists would appear to significantly outweigh the potential downsides.
The cup, with bluetooth remote, is almost sold out on KickStarter, so those of you who want to support the project should head over and check it out.
[Image by Spycup]