I find myself reliving my past a lot more since the stage IV diagnosis. Maybe people’s lives really do flash before them when they’re about die and when they know they’re dying “soon” the process starts and runs more slowly. I’m also spending some serious time getting my photographic legacy in order for my wife. But this isn’t all about the past. There’s still lots of time, even if it’s only a few years, to create a lot of great memories.
I’m always trying to find ways to better capture and preserve these memories. An up and coming technology called Life Logging may play a significant role. The idea is simple. You wear a tiny camera that takes wide angle photos “every so often” of what’s in front of you. Later these are edited and assembled into short time lapse movies of what you saw. Or you place the unit somewhere overlooking the area where you want to preserve the action. It sounds perfect to me for bucket list adventures, major family events, etc. Some may even want to wear one almost all the time.
The underlying technology to do this has been around for a long time, but only recently have startup companies started working on Life Loggers for the mass market. Two products are close to being released. The first, Autographer, is currently slated for availability in the UK in late January, 2013, for an estimated price of around 400 English Pounds (about $650 US), as of this writing. It’s by far the more sophisticated of the two and goes to great lengths to decide when the best time is to take pictures. It’s got five sensors and GPS to identify when to take a photo, based on changes in light, color, motion, direction, and temperature. For example; Autographer might capture an image when the wearer speeds up as they run for the bus, moves from a warm pub to a snowy street, or turns around to greet a friend. Photos are uploaded to your computer and you make one or more videos using their software. There’s a pretty good video on their site introducing the camera. Financially, Autographer has the advantage that even though it’s a startup, it has a well established British company behind it. (Thanks to Gizmodo.com for an interview they scored with the developers, which provided some of the info here.)
The second product is Memonto. It’s slated for availability in April 2013 at a cost of $279 US, as of this writing. It takes a picture every 30 seconds, period. This isn’t necessarily bad. It’s unclear if Autographer’s approach to snapping shots based on a collection of sensors is worth the extra cost compared to simple fixed interval shots. Photos in Memonto are uploaded to a protected web site Memonto hosts where they are geotagged and their computers take an automated first cut at editing the shots into multiple photo streams called “moments”. The user can then re-edit as they please. There’s a documentary on life logging on their site. If you scroll past the halfway point, a large number of photos from a prototype device are shown (at least I assume that’s what they are). They have a pronounced yellow cast. Hopefully, this will be removed in the final product and is not considered an “Instagram filter” look that’s desirable. The company is crowd-source funded through Kickstarter.
Both products have batteries that they claim will last at day or two before recharging. They also both claim they’ll have very easy to use software to edit and build the movies. Assuming the cost is reasonable, the software is where the rub will likely be, if there is one (or two). The hardware development needed is more evolutionary than revolutionary. The opposite is true for the software. Based on what little information there is about the companies, it’s hard to tell which one is more likely to produce the best software.
Between the two, based solely on the hardware and workflow, I prefer Autographer’s approach. I believe having a collection of sensors decide when to take the shot will result in picture streams that are smaller, more relevant, and need less editing. I also greatly prefer that all Autographer’s pictures will be stored and edited on my local computer instead of requiring an upload to Memonto’s cloud computers to get GPS tagged and edited into moments.
Stay tuned. If the initial reviews are good for either product, I’ll probably give ’em a try.