The safety of activists and journalists who report from war zones or dangerous areas, in general, is put to a risk the second they want to start filming or photographing. Spycup conceals iPhones so that journalists can safely take photos of whatever it is the world should know about.
Authors of revolting things seem to become even more infuriated the moment they see someone filming them, and that often leads to the destruction of the video equipment and the harm of the person filming. This seems to be the case more and more often recently, so activists need to find a way to make their smartphones more inconspicuous. Spycup, touted by many as the “weirdest iPhone accessory,” is one of the best ways to turn smartphones into something that doesn’t raise awareness as to what people are actually doing.
Ildar Khakimov, the creator of the Spycup, retells how this iPhone accessory came to be:
“The story of Spy Cup began in Taiji Japan, where I went as an cameraman to film the annual dolphin hunt (depicted in the movie “The Cove”). This is where conservationists like Sea Shepherd converge to protect the cetaceans like dolphins and pilot whales and that are hunted by the local fishermen.
I saw some disturbing things and realized how much good organizations like Sea Shepherd do to protect these animals. I was a bit skeptical at first, but after interviewing Melissa Sehgal who was heading up the Sea Shepherd team it became clear their motivations are pure and their tactics drive real results.
One day when we were watching the hunt unfold I was approached by a couple of officers which were gathering information on visiting foreigners.
I was invited into the police station. The problem is that just a few days before my interpreter got arrested and ended up spending 53 days in Jail. So when I get to the station I become extremely concerned for my safety.
They promptly inform me that I’m not allowed to film inside the station.
While sitting there I realized that I have the perfect recording device right in my hands, which is my iPhone, but I have no way of using it without them knowing.
This is when it hit me: 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.”
Due to physical limitations, Spycup only works with iPhone 5/5c/5s and 6/6s, but support for the 6+ and Android smartphones might be implemented in the future. Basically, all that activists and journalists need to do is place their iPhone inside the Spycup, where the camera has visibility to the exterior through a one-side mirror. Taking photos and filming is made possible with the help of a wireless remote control that connects via Bluetooth to the smartphone, thus enabling people to report the news without feeling endangered.
Khamikov turned to Kickstarter to raise the funds necessary for mass-producing the Spycup. The campaign proved to be a success, and the $5,000 CAD funding goal was reached not long after the project’s debut on the crowdfunding website. At press time, there were still 18 days left until the campaign’s end, so if you are an activist or journalist and think that the Spy Cup could help you stay safe, head over to the Kickstarter page and back the project with at least $27 CAD. Items are expected to be shipped in May 2016.
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