Last night I watched a boat pull out of a harbor in Germany, I saw an empty computer classroom somewhere in Europe, and a hotel swimming pool filled with swimmers in Turkey (the screen cap shows pigs sleeping in a barn in England). All courtesy of the Surveillance Saver, a free screen saver which shows footage from various surveillance video cameras around the world. The application is the brainchild of Michael Zoellner, a student studying Reality Filtering Systems at the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics in Germany.
He describes it as a voyeuristic soap opera, I would describe it more as another very disturbing foot forward towards an Orwellian future. People all over the world can now watch live surveillance footage — and the people being watched have no idea they’re on camera. Imagine walking into a local strip mall in Pennsylvania and having 100,000 internet voyeurs watching you walk around. Oh yeah – this footage doesn’t just come from the Czech Republic and Iceland, although it does certainly also come from there. It comes from Omaha, Michigan and other places right here in the U.S. And you thought America would never turn into big brother?
The voyeuristic soap opera is as addicting as it is creepy – I watched all kinds of images, both strange and surreal. Although it does make you wonder why some of these places have a surveillance video camera installed at all: what looked like a clothesline in someone’s backyard in Denmark, a dirtbike or ATV racetrack in Norway, and a river in Fairbanks, Alaska. Obviously what you can see is limited by the time of day you’re watching. Last night when it was daytime in Europe it was interesting to see these places with activity in them. But right now it’s nighttime and the images are darker and there’s less people, but that strip mall is Kansas is hopping.
You can download the Surveillance Saver screensaver from Google code.