Bringing back privacy

A few years ago, some friends clicked Saif Siddiqui’s picture while he was standing in front of a motorcycle. However, the bike’s reflector manipulated the flash of their mobile camera and obscured his face, ruining the photograph. This lead him to think how “cool it would be to have something to wear or hold up to a camera which could ruin a picture if you are not in the mood to be snapped”. So, he started researching on technologies and planning products which would do exactly that. And six years later, he is all ready with his collection of “anti-flash scarves” through which he aims to “bring back privacy”.

Describing the product, he says “It’s a world where everyone is overly exposed online due to everyone having a smart phone, and people constantly taking pictures and uploading them on sites like Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. I needed to create something to bring back privacy. And scarf was the perfect piece of accessory as it is easy to wear and carry”.

Christened The ISHU, the scarves range from Rs 25,000 to 60,000, and are available on Handmade, they are 100 per cent woollen and available in red, black, grey and blue colours.

“Privacy and security are important for everyone, and with The ISHU you can have control over who takes a picture of you and whether it should appear online or not. When you put on the scarf and someone takes a picture on their mobile phone using flash, your face completely blacks out. The technology on the scarf absorbs the flash and sends it back to the camera, which distorts contrast,” says Dutch-born Siddiqui, who
has lived in New Delhi for five years.

Explaining the idea behind the product’s name, London-based Siddiqui tells Metrolife that it is a play on words and is a “breakdown of ‘i’ and ‘u’ and also has ‘sh’ from ’shush’, which fits the privacy element of the brand”.

He says the response to his product has been “beyond expectation”, with people understanding and appreciating its importance and relevance. Apart from the scarves, his brand, Access All Brands, has also launched cases for iPhones and Samsung phones which work on the same principle. The anti-flash phone cases cost Rs 5,500 to 7,500 per case and are available in black.

Ecstatic, he shares that a lot of celebrities like actress Cameron Diaz, DJ Sebastian Ingrosso, singers Rita Ora and Joe Jonas, and sportsperson Jérôme Boateng have used his products.

“Everyone who sees it for the first time is amazed by it. Celebrities have really embraced the brand. I believe the only reason why it is so is because celebrities know what it’s like to be extremely over exposed and are more privacy sensitive,” he says.

He is now hopeful that his products will be equally loved in India, with celebrities embracing it here as well. “This is the first time people will hear about us in India as we just launched only a few months ago in London, Amsterdam, Paris, Toronto and Los Angeles. We are currently in talks with sponsors in India for collaborating The ISHU with Bollywood and to introduce it to the fashion and technology industry,” he says.

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