Sony's camera a little too candid
Special to CNET NEWS.COM
August 12, 1998, 3:05 p.m. PT
TOKYO--Electronics giant Sony said Wednesday it had halted shipments of some video cameras after finding they could be used for filming more of their subjects than meets the eye.
Some versions of the Handycam have infrared technology that lets users shoot at night or in darkness in a "night shot" mode.
But magazine reports revealed that when the special feature is used in daylight or a lighted room with a special filter it can "see through" clothing. Underwear can show up, especially on those lightly dressed, and people wearing swimsuits look almost naked.
A Sony spokesman said the first the company knew of the camera's surprise feature was when reporters started asking for comments on the "new way" of using the camera. Sony technicians then experimented and confirmed that the technology had the unintended capability.
"When we developed this feature for the Handycam, we were thinking of people filming night views--their children sleeping, or perhaps the nocturnal behavior of animals," the spokesman said.
Concerned at the possibility of less innocent users taking advantage of the technology, Sony has modified the camera so the "night shot" mode only works in the dark.
Shipment of the new versions have already begun, replacing the original ones, which hit the market in March and had sold around 180,000 units in the domestic market by the end of July, the spokesman said.
It sold 870,000 of the original cameras worldwide by the end of June, including 400,000 in North America and 290,000 in Europe. The spokesman said it is now shipping the modified version overseas.
He denied local media reports that it had asked stores to remove the original versions from their shelves. The company declined to confirm retail prices, but media reports said the cameras range from $684 to $1,368 in Japan.