In the fall of 2014, Google lost a valuable man: Andy Rubin. While Rubin had his hands in a number of important projects at the big G, none were more important than his creation of Android in 2003. Today, Android is the most widely-used mobile OS; one that's even making its way to convertible PCs. To call that particular project a success would be a gross understatement.
We learned just two months ago that Rubin has eyed making a return to smartphones, something he hasn't talked too much about openly. What he has talked about, though, is dashcams. Yup -- Rubin sees the lowly dashcam as being a major part of our future.
At the time of his departure, Rubin said he'd be helping tech startups, although we were unsure exactly how he'd be doing that. However, not long after leaving Google, Rubin co-founded Playground Global, a company that acts somewhat as an incubator and a consulting firm, but also bolsters things by offering a centralized engineering department to the startups the company has invested in. His ultimate goal is to be at the leading-edge of AI, which ties into things like dashcams.
Rubin believes that everyone should equip their vehicle with a dashcam, and admittedly, it does seem like a smart thing to do. In the event of an accident, a dashcam can single-handedly prove your innocence. Beyond personal accidents, you might catch something else on camera that could prove useful, including accidents that strike others. In Russia, dashcams are extremely common, due to a lack of quality auto insurance in the country. If you've seen footage of irate or gun-toting drivers captured by a dashcam online, there's a good chance it came out of Russia.
Dashcams are dumb devices, though, and AI is something that could perfectly suit them. Imagine a network being developed that recognizes trends, and sends data back to a home server that spreads the information to everyone else. Such a design could be the ultimate traffic-monitoring tool.
How valuable could such data be? Well, it's valuable enough where Rubin is looking to give away dashcams for free in exchange for any and all data collected. That seems like a great deal, but, it'd of course raise some serious privacy concerns. Data collected would encompass all location and time data, so with such a device, you'd have no privacy whatsoever, unless the data was sent back completely anonymously (and it could well be). At the end of the day, dashcams are really not that expensive (~$150 for a great one), so some might prefer to overlook the free "tracked" one in lieu of one that's more private. Private dashcams would just miss out on the potential benefits that Rubin foresees for his.
Would you snap up a free dashcam in exchange for giving up all of the data collected?