Read More: Scientific American
I'll never forget being creeped out by “Private Eye,” a 1949 short story by Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore. In it, a futuristic technology lets “forensic sociologists” replay anything that's ever happened, going back 50 years, by analyzing walls and surfaces. The protagonist plans a murder entirely in his head, knowing that everything he says and does is being recorded. “It is nerve-racking to know you're living under the scrutiny of an extratemporal Eye,” he thinks to himself. I remembered that story when I reviewed a home security camera called the Nest Cam IQ. Like most Wi-Fi cameras, it lets you peek in on your home from anywhere, using your phone—and even rewind into the past. For a fee, this camera stores up to 30 days' worth of continuously recorded video. I set the camera up downstairs, with a full 130-degree view of our kitchen and eating area. It never did capture a burglary. It did, however, reveal all kinds of things I was not expecting. They started small. Rewinding the footage one morning, I discovered something I'd never known about our cat, Wilbur. My wife and I have always thought he sleeps all night at the foot of our bed. In fact, in the middle of every night he slips downstairs and makes a few nonchalant circuits through the kitchen—some ancient, instinctual mouse patrol he's kept secret from us for 15 years.