Lifelogging – is it time?

I’ve done a bunch of talks lately, in places ranging from Hong Kong to Costa Rica, about the future of cameras and photography. (Here’s one) And one of the things I discuss is this concept of ‘Lifelogging‘ – the idea of wearing an always-on camera constantly, capturing everything you do as you go about your daily life.

At first glance I think a lot of people find the idea to fall somewhere along the line between obtrusive and completely boring. Who wants to record everything they do? Why? But the more I’ve thought about it the more I’m convinced that it’s going to become very very common. Because when it comes down to it, don’t you wish you could call up photos from all the key incidents in your life? Don’t you wish your memories were preserved beyond what the organic is capable of?

So when I saw yesterday’s announcement of a kickstarter for a tiny wearable camera (called ‘Memoto’) that will take a photo every half-minute, I wasn’t even slightly surprised. And after a few minutes of considering it I went ahead and ordered one (in spite of the rather hefty $200 pricetag.)

Is this going to be device that makes the concept mainstream? Doubt it, but it’s an interesting step towards that. I’m sure there will be stories of how it’s being misued, we’re going to hear about someone getting Punched In The Face because they wore it somewhere that’s not appropriate. (And by ‘appropriate’ I include just about anyplace where the photographee doesn’t want to be on camera).

But ultimately I think it’s inevitible that something like this will catch on with a lot of people. Biggest question for me, really, is whether or not it’s going to happen before or after the cameras get small enough to be undetectable by the people you’re interacting with on a daily basis.

For me personally I doubt I’ll wear it on a daily basis – mostly because That Would Be Weird. But as someone who loves to travel, I suspect the first trip I take after I get the device will see me clipping it on as soon as I head for the airport and not removing it again until I’m back home.

As for the device itself? I like a lot of what they’ve done. Small, rugged, decent battery life, and simple.  And they seem to have the expertise to make it happen.

The devil is in the details of course. How’s the low-light capabilities, for example? And It’ll be interesting to see what they decide on for the field of view. (Personally I suspect that the best way to go might be a very wide-angle lens – fisheye even – combined with some software that can rectilinearize it after the fact. With a 5 megapixel image you’ve got some leeway to do this, and ultimately it’s important to remember that for most people the value is going to be in capturing the moment as completely as possible, rather than creating photos that are suitable for wall-hanging).

And, as is to be expected, if you look at the comments on the kickstarter you’ve already got tons of people asking for specific features. But I like the decisions they’ve made so far in terms of keeping it small and simple and hopefully they’ll stay the course.

You can check out the Kickstarter here  (they’ve already reached their funding goal, less than 24 hours after going live) and once mine shows up I’ll definitely be talking about it some more.



2 thoughts on “Lifelogging – is it time?

  1. I just caught the end of a discussion about memoto on the BBC World Service; podcast is available here for a few more weeks:
    I am considering one..

    I started using this app about it month ago; it helps me remember where I’ve been
    (useful for remembering what/where I’ve been working), tracking my sleep, etc., passively by location/movement tracking:

    I have been keeping my own gps data for years; hikes, drives, phototreks, and recently running. Here’s an example from a couple years ago:

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