Sony once had to recall a camera that could see through clothes

The product inadvertently boasted 'X-ray' capabilities. Photo / iStock
The product inadvertently boasted 'X-ray' capabilities. Photo / iStock

Sometimes products make it to market with a quirky flaw or a default that wasn't picked up by the engineers or manufacturers.

No matter how extensive the product testing, it's always possible the public will discover an unknown feature, glitch or defect that prompts a dreaded, and costly, product recall.

There was the ill conceived "too cool to do drugs" pencil which after being sharpened down promoted a rather different message. The manufacturers halted production of the pencil after a 10-year-old primary school student pointed out the pencil soon read "do drugs".

On the more serious end of the spectrum, more than 600,000 Australian vehicles were caught up in a global recall of 53 million vehicles last year after it was discovered they were fitted with faulty airbags from Japanese manufacturer Takata.

And this week saw the culmination of a much more sinister, and deliberate, example in which Volkswagen was forced to pay billions of dollars to buy back or fix cars after they were found to have tampered with the emissions reading technology in certain vehicles.
But when it comes to product recalls - at least in terms of creepiness - Sony probably takes the cake.

In 1998, the tech giant had its biggest product recall in history when it had to recall 700,000 video cameras after customers discovered the product inadvertently boasted 'X-ray' capabilities.

The video cameras were equipped with night vision, infra-red technology that allowed users to take pictures in dark.

However when the infra-red lens was used in daylight it was able to see through certain clothes, revealing tattoos, underwear and body parts underneath.

It primarily worked on dark coloured, thin clothing like swimsuits, as the degree of transparency was due to how well the fabric absorbed infra-red light waves.

According to an article which appeared in America's ABC News, the broadcaster found at least 12 websites that feature pictures of women who look almost naked, even though they are wearing clothes or a swimsuit.

Once Sony caught wind of the unintended feature, it attempted to recall all 700,000 cameras and changed the way it manufactured its night-vision mode.

It was an innocent mistake but the cat was already out of the bag. Since then other cameras have come on the market with the same ability and a quick Google search yields a number of videos demonstrating the phenomena.

But as the old adage goes: with great power, comes great responsibility.

- news.com.au

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 09 Dec 2016 20:51:34 Processing Time: 527ms