NoPhoto is an electronic countermeasure for traffic cameras that is currently up for funding on Indiegogo. On detecting a traffic camera via its onboard sensors, NoPhoto floods the number plate with light to disrupt the camera’s photo – thereby saving you from a hefty fine.
There are some people who would suggest that such a device is irresponsible. The developer, Jonathan Dandrow believes otherwise. He explained his motivation for building the device, which he says is legal in the United States, “if you do commit a traffic violation, you should have your constitutionally guaranteed right to face your accuser – and that your accuser should not win by default just because it happens to be a camera that can’t talk in court.”
1. The traffic camera fires its flash to illuminate your car for a picture
2. The noPhoto detects the flash, analyzes it, and sends the proper firing sequence to its own xenon flashes
3. The noPhoto precisely times and fires the flash at the exact moment needed to overexpose the traffic camera
4. Since the traffic camera is not expecting the additional light from the noPhoto, all of its automated settings are incorrect and the image is completely overexposed. Your license plate cannot be seen you and you will not get a ticket in the mail.
I live in a country (Japan) where, thankfully, traffic cameras are few and far between. What’s more, they are set with a reasonable amount of tolerance – they typically give you 20 kph of wriggle room, so you have to be going really, really fast to set them off. The cops are similarly lenient, as long as you are not being an idiot. The thing is that there are idiots and they would use this thing to flout the laws of the road at their leisure and that could have serious consequences. I don’t want to see something like this make its way to Japan, because it would only encourage irresponsible behavior.
That being said, I come from a country (Australia) that is covered with traffic cameras: speed cameras hidden in cars, speed cameras hidden at the side of the road, red light speed cameras… and a cop with a laser gun hiding behind a bush at the bottom of a hill, or anywhere that the speed limit drops unexpectedly. In Australia, the traffic camera system is all about revenue raising for the police force. The tolerance, I have heard, is set at 5 kph. To put that in perspective, 5 kph is a fairly comfortable walking pace – it is a small enough increment that in order to be safe from the cameras, you really have to go about 5 kph below the speed limit. The red light traffic cameras are the worst. People know that they are there and have been known to freak out, panic, and slam on their brakes at intersections. A few years ago I went home for the first time in a few years, was driving late at night with nobody else on a three-lane road and got hit for $300 because I was doing 74 kph in a 60 zone. I see how electronic countermeasures would be good for somewhere like Australia, unfortunately NoPhoto would be illegal.
At present, Dadrow is seeking $80,000. There are 19 days to go and he has raised about a 10th of the amount. Things aren’t looking especially good for the project, but it should be pointed out that it is a flexible funding campaign – so it doesn’t really matter if he doesn’t hit the full goal. As long as he gets enough to fund the equipment and honor his obligations it could still see production.