Monday, September 07, 2009

Life Recorders May Be This Century’s Wrist Watch

Life Recorders May Be This Century’s Wrist Watch: "

Imagine a small device that you wear on a necklace that takes photos every few seconds of whatever is around you, and records sound all day long. It has GPS and the ability to wirelessly upload the data to the cloud, where everything is date/time and geo stamped and the sound files are automatically transcribed and indexed. Photos of people, of course, would be automatically identified and tagged as well.

Imagine an entire lifetime recorded and searchable. Imagine if you could scroll and search through the lives of your ancestors.

Would you wear that device? I think I would. I can imagine that advances in hardware and batteries will soon make these as small as you like. And I can see them becoming as ubiquitous as wrist watches were in the last century. I see them becoming customized fashion statements.

Privacy disaster? You betcha.

But ten years ago we would have been horrified by what we nonchalantly share on Facebook and Twitter every day. I always imagine what a family in the 70s would think about all of their photo albums being posted on computers and available for the entire world to see. They’d be horrified, they couldn’t even imagine it. Heck, a life recorder is less of a privacy abandonment step forward than we’ve already taken with the Internet and electronic surveillance in general.

A Business Week article talks about a ten year old Microsoft project called SenseCam (more here) that is just such a device.

It’s clunky today and doesn’t do most of the things I mentioned in the first paragraph above. But a true life recorder that isn’t a fashion tragedy isn’t that far away.

In fact I’ve already spoken with one startup that has been working on a device like this for over a year now, and may go to market with it in 2010.

The hardware is actually not the biggest challenge. How it will be stored, transcribed, indexed and protected online is. It’s a massive amount of data that only a few companies (Microsoft, Google, Amazon) are equipped to really handle anytime soon.

But these devices are coming. And you have to decide if you’ll be one of the first or one of the last to use one.

Will you wear one? I will. Let us know in the poll below.

Would You Wear A Life Recorder?(survey software)

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