One of the more peculiar things Google announced at its Pixel 2 event was Clips, an artificial intelligence-powered camera that essentially takes pictures when it sees something interesting.
What does that mean exactly? Well, it might help to know that Google's target customer for this product are parents, especially those who have difficulty capturing candid, spontaneous moments of their children.
What And Who Is Google Clips For?
Eva Snee, the Clips's user experience lead, explained how the camera works in an interview with The Verge. First, she showed a photo of two toddlers — but it was actually more than that.
"This is my son, and this is my nephew. We were having a family vacation, and they snuck outside and started reading a book together. I went outside with my phone and they stopped," said Snee.
Unable to take good photos of them reading, she sets the Clips down in front of the toddlers and leaves them be. Went she went back inside, she discovers amazing photos of little moments where the toddlers are together.
"Things I wouldn't get, I couldn't get. I tried."
Get it now? The Clips is a camera that can be set down and be left on its own. Then it'll find interesting moments and capture them. The device itself is just a 2-inch standalone camera that doubles as a clip-on. It looks like a rubber toy, and that's not just an aesthetic choice. It's Google's way of making the device approachable and unintimidating.
To use it, the user has to twist the slightly protruding lens, set it down or clip it, and forget it even exists. Then after a while, they'll find that it has taken images aplenty — of interesting, funny, and even heartwarming moments, no less. It's a simple enough concept to grasp. Think of it as a camera for the camera-shy baby.
Google Clips: Privacy Concerns
Of course, there's already a problem with this concept: privacy. The Google Clips camera, because it's always "watching," makes it creepy. In fairness, it does indicate via blinking LED lights when it's taking photos, and its design makes it look a lot less imposing than, say, an Amazon Echo Show or Echo Look.
But those aside, the main reason it's a worrisome product is because of AI, which helps Google recognize faces and record them automatically. That's certainly helpful and innovative but also invasive. Still, Google claims everything is processed locally and that nothing is sent to its cloud at all. The facial recognition occurs on-device, and it also does not add names to those faces.
Creepy or not? You decide. Privacy concerns aside, though, Engadget thinks this camera is going to flop.
Google Clips launches soon for $249.