Daily Archives: March 4, 2012

Startup Wants to Peek Through the Wired Cameras in Your Home, Sell the Data

pcworld.com | Feb 29, 2012

By Jay Alabaster

The little cameras in your home are multiplying. There are the ones you bought, perhaps your SLR or digital camera, but also those that just kind of show up in your current phone, your old phone, your laptop, your game console, and soon your TV and set-top box.

Varun Arora wants you to turn them all on.

The founder and CEO of GotoCamera in Singapore sees every such camera as an opportunity. The startup, which is attending this year’s DEMO Asia conference in Singapore, provides software and online storage for capturing or streaming video, and says it now has 100,000 users.

Arora hopes that eventually he can convince his users to switch on the various cameras in their homes and let his company’s algorithms analyze what they show, then sell the results as marketing data, in a sort of visual version of what Google and other firms do with search results and free email services.

“But video is another level of privacy for users,” he said.

For now, his company makes money by charging manufacturers for offering its services with their products, or from users that upgrade to extra storage. Currently most such cameras are USB-driven, but a new wave of cheap Wi-Fi models are on the way, and manufacturers like Samsung and Panasonic are putting them into TVs and other devices, mainly for motion control and video conferencing.

“USB is a sunset industry” for cameras, Arora said. He showed off a tiny wireless camera from partner Trek 2000 International, about the size of a roll of film. It sells online for about US$65, and other manufacturers will soon launch for less than $50. Unlike USB models, Wi-Fi cameras don’t need to be plugged into a computer or network, and usually just require a power source, which makes them ideal for security and monitoring.

As the prices of such devices fall, manufacturers will be squeezed, and GotoCamera proposes to provide a portion of the online fees it receives back to them, a rare ongoing revenue stream he compares to disposable blades for shaving razors, that must be continually purchased.

“What we say to them is, ‘Please accept that you’re a commodity, and let us bring the Gillette model to you,'” Arora said.

Currently only about one percent of users subscribe to the company’s paid service, which costs US$40 per year for a gigabyte of storage versus 50 MB for the free version, but Arora thinks that can climb to 50 percent as more people buy cameras specifically for security or monitoring.

GotoCamera, which was founded in 2008, now has five staff and is actively looking for more developers. It has partnered with camera makers like Creative and is in talks with ISPs (Internet service providers) and set-top box makers, and Arora said it will break even next year.

Secret Freemason-like oaths sworn at elite sex clubs

Swinging sex clubs attracting society’s elites

Documentary shines a light on growing scene — a world surprisingly dominated by females

independent.ie | Mar 4, 2012

By NIAMH HORAN

Elite swinging clubs among professional classes — costing thousands of euro to join — are now operating in Ireland, according to an undercover documentary maker.

The VIP clubs — which ‘swingers’ describe as akin to a ‘freemason’ society where members swear under oath not to reveal the identities or details of those involved — are one of the groups that have been unearthed as part of an investigation into Ireland’s secret sex lives.

The TV3 programme, which includes footage of ‘swinging’ events, where consenting couples swop partners, is part of the controversial new Paul Connolly investigates series.

“There are different levels of swinging clubs in Ireland and it became clear the more money you have, the more access you have to the higher end of these private clubs,” says Mr Connolly. “Secrecy is a major factor and these ensure the higher classes have 100 per cent discretion.”

As one swinger who Mr Connolly interviewed explained: “There are certain elite clubs that you can get involved in and you swear allegiance and you take an oath. They’re certainly not advertised. These would only be for the elite of Irish society and they would be very expensive. It could cost you anything from €10,000 to €20,000. You are talking about professional people, well-to-do businessmen, the creme de le creme.”

With 60,000 registered Irish users on no-strings casual sex websites, TV3’s newest presenter was also shocked to see the number of women involved.

“Women take it very seriously, meeting up to eight men a week, sometimes a couple a day. They were the main users, surprisingly. Whereas men just seem to dip their toe in and out of the water. These are everyday women; bored housewives, women sitting at home looking for a bit of a thrill.”

As one Dublin woman who regularly uses the websites describes in the documentary: “In the last 12 months I have met 25 men through the website from the comfort of my own home. I can be with someone within an hour after placing an ad. I had two meets yesterday. It’s all very adult, very relaxed.” She added: “It’s like the first time every time.”

Another woman from the midlands explained: “I could meet two or three at the same time in the same car park. I would drive past the car and have a look. If I don’t like what I see I go home.”

She added: “The dangers are part of the excitement. You’re getting a bit of attention and sex. It’s worth that risk. Sometimes I’d do it twice a week, maybe twice a night. Sometimes a hotel, sometimes my house. It all depends.”

The sub-culture of ‘dogging’ — which involves couples or singles having sex in parked cars whilst others watch — was also looked at as part of the investigation.

“There’s a strict ethical code involved,” explains Mr Connolly. “When they arrive in the deserted car park or unoccupied industrial estate they flash the headlights once to let people know why they are there. If others are there for the same reason, they flash their headlights back once. A light on in the car means you’re going to start, a window open means you are inviting strangers to put their hands in the car and the door opens means you want them to join in. Everyone stands five feet from the car. The only awkward moment was when I got in the way of one of the spectators and he started screaming at me that I was in his eye-line. Supposedly that is a big no-no,” recalls a bemused Mr Connolly.

He defended his use of under-cover cameras to film sexual acts for the investigation, saying: “I felt that if I didn’t show their faces or reveal their identities in any way, then I was satisfying a huge curiosity in the Irish public without harming anyone.”

‘Ireland’s Secret Sex Lives: Paul Connolly Investigates’ airs tomorrow at 9pm on TV3