When entrepreneur CJ Isakow heard tales of high school students being spied on via the video cameras built into their laptops and tablets, he had an idea. Then as talk mounted this summer of National Security Agency surveillance, Isakow felt moved to action.
“I think everyone deserves a choice of whether they want to be watched or not,” he said. “There’s no physical opting out of cameras, so I wanted to make sure there was a product that delivered.”
To test the market Isakow set up a basic Web page offering a product that would protect from spying, and he encouraged people to submit their e-mail addresses for more information. He ran ads on conservative blogs which said essentially, “You’re being watched,” and linked to his Web site.
The feedback was so strong that within a couple days, Isakow was looking for a designer to make the plastic piece, which is symbolically shaped like a shield. In a matter of weeks he was 3D printing the guard on shapeways.com.
Electronics users who are especially concerned about privacy could slap a piece of tape or a Post-it note over the cameras on their devices. The advantage of Eyebloc is it can be easily removed when a user wants to use their camera, and then reapplied. The Eyebloc has no adhesive so won’t leave any residue on a tablet or laptop.
There is a drawback, some laptops won’t close completely with the Eyebloc in place due to the thickness of the plastic. And it won’t fit desktop computers, but Isakow plans to expand the product line to include desktops.
Isakow said he’s received the most interest from mothers who are concerned about people trying to spy on their children. He will pitch his product Jan. 10 on the ABC show Sharktank, which he hopes will propel the product into the mainstream.
“The market is really large and we’re just at the start of it right now,” Isakow said. “Some people want to take that extra precaution. That’s the market. It’s not everyone. There’s lots of people that don’t lock their doors, but I think it’s a reasonable precaution.”
He’s also developed a similar cover for the Microsoft Kinect.