Sindan Electrical Trading (SET) will soon launch its RoadBOX driving recorder in Dubai, UAE. It's a windshield-mounted videocamera that can sense sudden decelerations--as when you brake hard or hit something. When that happens, it saves the previous 14 seconds of "tape" (and the six seconds following) for later analysis. The video can be taken off the unit with a USB key. The price will be 1,500 UAE Dirham, which is roughly 535 Tunisian dinars.
Why only 20 seconds of video, I wonder. The possible applications multiply when you preserve, say, 20 minutes or more. For example, what if you want to prove (perhaps in court) that you weren't speeding, weaving through traffic, driving without headlights or otherwise compromising public safety? It would also be good for recording your conversation with the nice officer--just so you both stay civil. (George Bernard Shaw once said that if you put a rogue in the limelight, he'll behave like an honest man. I bet he'll be polite, too.)
And why limit the idea to cars? Personal black boxes--perhaps in the form of modified cell phones--are a possible next step. A phone that monitored my vital signs could summon help in the event that I collapsed. (The GPS unit would tell the ambulance where I was.) And if these units video-recorded our lives, that would be the end of mean-spirited gossip, certain violent crimes, [insert prefix here]-ist jokes and disrespect in general -- you couldn't take the risk that your satirical rendition of the boss's attempt at Karaoke would be recorded by someone else's black box and become #1 on YouTube. The strain of all this enforced kindness will be acute and probably unhealthy. Look sharp: We may be headed for a time of teeth-gritting sweetness and light.