Hi, I'm Ben Hazell. I used to blog here about the media, but now I work there I don't write here anymore.
I'm the Web Publishing Editor at - I find better ways to tell stories, developing tools, training and practice for journalists.

You can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, LibraryThing, Spotify, and occasionally writing on

The Blog

Rarely updated now, used during Journalism MA at the University of Sheffield.

DIY street anonymizer

Sunday, 29 June 2008
EDIT: Ahh, this was a video post, but the video no longer works. It was either too edgy to remain public or all the additional traffic from this blog crashed their servers. I don't know which, but I'll try to explain what it showed so this isn't an utterly wasted post.

Tiny Infra-red LEDs can be used to hide your face from security cameras. These LEDs are small lights that require only tiny batteries to power and can be easily mounted anywhere.

CCTV cameras don't like Infra-red light when they're stalking you after sunset. In low light they enhance the image, and the Infra-red LED shows too bright for the picture. Mount one on your head, and you become unrecognisable on camera, protected by a halo of anoyminity.

The now deleted video below showed you how to fit the LED into some cheap sun-glasses and what this does to your image on CCTV cameras.
What a brilliant idea. Tastes like the cyberpunk anarcho-future to me.

Magic mirror shades that render you invisible to the MAN.

Unlikely to be the first or best method developed for tricking CCTV, but brilliant in its simplicity. The thick black frames and DIY aestetic will even appeal to the fashion sense of your local graffiti artists and urban explorers.

What does this mean? Will every Hoodie in the UK who never skipped electronics lessons dash out to buy themselves the reasonably priced kit and wire up their baseball cap before their next mugging or shady deal?

Unlikely: The feral youth don't read gadget blogs, and they couldn't give a damn about CCTV in the first place.

The first time my car got broken into the little buggers were careful to batter the nearby CCTV camera too. The next time me motor got the hoodies' handshake the police told me that all the local CCTV cameras were fake or not recording.

I'm sure it's true that CCTV does help clear up some cases of casual violence and crime. I just doubt it really protects society against any kind of premeditated misbehavior; it's already too easy to avoid with a simple hat or hood.

Writing about CCTV in todays Guardian, Marine Hyde suggests, "(You) could always don a hood. Yet there does seem a vaguely depressing irony in governments insisting that constant surveillance is essential to prevent our being overrun by repressive regimes who'd make us all cover our heads and the like."

We can only hope criminals do try this hi-tech soloution instead of their hoods, because while these lights might hide you from night-time CCTV, they mark you with a beacon to any loitering Police helicopter or UAV.

At any rate, just look what else you can do with IR LED glasses.


Rhoda Buchanan said...

ben, you break everything you touch.

your video for this post does not work.

I cannot add your blog to my new blog list. it won't work. have you corrupted it or something?

curse you

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