Product wish: A dumber life logger

Jan 11, 2014 – Exciting update! – My wish has been answered! A product called meMINI does exactly what I’ve outlined below and has met it’s funding goal on Kickstarter!

Lifelogging┬áis all the rage nowadays. Computing power and components have shrunk enough to be packaged in a comfortably wearable form that enables recording of the exciting everyday life of the average Joe. As an amateur travel photographer, capturing the ‘right’ moment has always been the holy grail for me since so much of photography is about the moment. Here’s one such example from one of my motorcycle rides.

Horses near the Drang Drung glacier, Zanskar

Horses near the Drang Drung glacier, Zanskar. Click for more pics from the ride.

The huge Drang Drung glacier was an amazing backdrop for a couple of grazing horses and I started walking towards them to get a better shot. As I was walking, one of the horses took a nibble at the other. The trusty old Nikon D70s was ready to fire before I had it up to my eye and I shot without a glance at the settings and without adjusting the polarizer. Turns out that it was a smart thing to do since the next moment, the horse was back to grazing. That simple gesture of the horse made the photograph so much more powerful! The unadjusted polarizer lent a surreal look to the photo, making it look more like a painting.

Anyways, coming back to the original point of capturing the moment, it happens so very often that we don’t see the moment for what it is until it has passed us by!

And it’s not just with moments but also with events. Like some fun thing shared between friends which, when taken out of context, loses all of its appeal. But seen in context, it’s super funny.

So here’s the thing – why can’t a lifelogger log a moment or an event that is in the past?

As someone who’s living the moment or the event, I am in a position to decide whether it really is something worth storing. Today we make do with memories or by recording using a camera. But people act all different when they see a camera in front of them – things are never the same. They are contrived.

The Memoto Lifelogger

The Memoto Lifelogger

So when I saw Memoto on Kickstarter, I was super excited. Maybe my wish had finally come true! But turns out that all it does is capture a photograph every 30 seconds. And that (plus some neat things) was enough for people to throw their money at it. No thanks.

I don’t want my lifelogger to keep capturing everything that’s happening in my whole day. That’s just a huge waste. I don’t want to spend another lifetime sifting through the life I’ve already had. I want my lifelogger to stop acting like it understands my life and be dumb instead. I want it to log whatever I tell it to log, because I know what I’d like to save.

Here’s what I wanted –

  • A device with the same form factor as the Memoto
  • Stabilized 720p camera, continuously recording video.
  • Bluetooth for communicating with a smartphone
  • Accelerometer for input commands
  • Battery that lasts a couple of days at least
  • 16 GB storage (or whatever it takes to store an hour of video)
  • App on the smartphone for communicating with the lifelogger

The device would work like so –

It’s an always-on, always-recording device, writing continuously to a looped filesystem. In other words, once it fills up the storage, it starts over-writing the oldest content. The idea is that it always has the last hour of recording available.

Now when I experience an event that’s worth saving, I just tap on the device to tell it to save it permanently by sending it to the smartphone. One tap saves the last 5 minutes, two saves the last 10 minutes and so on. This can obviously be configured (like one tap saving only the last minute while two saves the last 5 and so on). The smartphone app is smart enough to figure out overlaps and stitches the event together properly.

The data can be uploaded to the cloud or retained in the smartphone. Instead of the device writing to the smartphone since the file transfer would take considerable time, there could be on-board MicroSD storage that does the same job. The smartphone app can do the fetching work later at leisure.

So the next time I experience something awesome, I just tap and a dumb thing does something really smart.

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