As consumer electronics prices continue their steady decline, we see the contours of a future in which our entire lives can be easily and cheaply recorded for posterity: Where you left your keys, who said what in that argument and how many cups of coffee you had in the last month are all things we’ll be able to access easily. Here is an overview of where life-logging technology is today, and where it’s taking us next.
Essentially, by life logging we mean the perpetual recording and documentation of your day-to-day life through the use of electronic devices. Primitive forms of life logging are already quite prevalent, thanks to widespread use of mobile phones with video/photo cameras, but the near future promises cheap and convenient methods of capturing your entire life, second by second.
Life logging devices of today
NYU professor Wafaa Bilal is a pioneer in life logging and has taken the drastic measure of surgically implanting a camera in the back of his head, which takes a photo a minute and uploads these automatically to his website. In addition, his whereabouts at any given time are displayed on a Google map. Although this particular manner of life logging is unlikely to become a mainstream trend, it is a good example of how recordings could be stored and used online.
Liquid Image has developed life logging goggles which let you record in HD with a camera embedded directly in the frame. Extreme sport enthusiasts have embraced this new technology which allows them to record their experiences, 32 gigabytes at a time. See the video below for an example.
The Ucorder is a small camera you can wear around your neck or snap onto your clothing which takes photos every few seconds. Unfortunately, you have to upload these pictures yourself, as there is no WiFi possibility.
The Revue from Vicon takes photos up to every thirty seconds and even has a temperature and light sensor, as well as a motion detector, so that it knows when you’ve stepped into a new environment and are seeing new people(which triggers a flash).
Polaroid and Lady Gaga recently came together to reveal their GL20 camera specs, which have small screens and a camera embedded in the glasses. The GL20 uses Bluetooth to upload recordings to your PC.
Where do we go from here?
For life logging to be worth the trouble, these devices will need a WiFi connection so that you don’t have to upload and store it yourself, but rather have it done automatically. Images or videos would likely be transmitted without your involvement to an online image bank where you can access these records at your discretion.
Sorting technology must also improve. Recording and uploading is relatively uncomplicated. It is the sifting through millions of photos to find that particular person or that particular conversation in a user friendly and fast way that will be the real challenge. Software for sorting out and digging through life logs are improving because we already have sophisticated voice recognition and speech to text software which will eventually allow us to transcribe conversations and store them word for word.
10-15 years from now, cameras with built in WiFi will fit in contact lenses making life logging extremely convenient.
Cause for caution
Naturally, there is always a risk of someone using the stored records of your life against you, for reasons such as identity theft, blackmail or even indictments. We’ll each be responsible for what we record and how or if we choose to store it. But this is true for your online photos or your email account even today, and most people seem undeterred by it.
What will it take for you to start life logging? Or are you too concerned about privacy issues to consider it at all? Leave a comment below.