Thursday, January 06, 2005

Wearable Invers N10 Mp3 Player and Audio Recorder Captures Conversations, Meetings and Lectures

Invers N10 Mp3 player and audio recorder is worn around your neck like high-tech jewellery. The 'necklace' serves as a set of ear phones, and the N10's MP3 player has 512 MB of recording space. The voice recorder can be activated almost instantly, which makes taking lecture notes so easy. The audio file can later be downloaded to your PC in Mp3 format, annotated and even transcribed. You could use it to record personal brainstorms, ideas, dreams, verbal instructions, or the minutes from business meetings.

Here's a real product that carries out some of the functions that the still-in-development (yawn!)
Sensecam has been promising. And you can see the uses and applications it suggests straight away. In a way, this is an audio version of the Sensecam. The Sensecam takes care of the visual side and could be used to captures notes on a screen, black board or overhead projector, or capture street names, written directions, diagrams and maps. You can imagine that a proper product-for-sale Sensecam would incorporate the audio function as well. But I wish Microsoft would hurry up with the development of it and decide whether this particular prototype is going to follow the Invers N10 into the marketplace. If they don't the N10's and Nokia Lifeblogs of this world may just get in there first and steal the market. And the Sensecam could end up as another too-late-to-come-to-the-party product like the Xbox. Microsoft should hurry a Sensecam beta product to the market so that we can play with it, abuse it, argue about it and basically have a big controversy about it.

These are two wearable data recording gadgets. Where the Invers N10 differs from the Sensecam is the visual component. We can accept audio recording on the hoof, but visual recording? In this conservative climate? Oh lordy-lordy no! Maybe that's the real reason why Microsoft are soft-pedalling on this one? It's a minefield ahead!


Will SenseCam Change The World For Better or Worse?

A new post release on ZDNet's Between the Lines, entitled Miss or Mister Manners in the digital age raises a number of interesting points and questions about Sensecam type equipment and gadgetry.

1. It poo-poos the impact of Sensecam, saying that mobile phones will sit in your shirt pocket and have all the capabilities of Sensecam and more... recording audio and video, transcribing speech, getting continuous GPS location data and sending it to servers for storage creating a full archive of your life.

2. It raises the thought that we will all have to assume continuous monitoring by others and predicts that this will improve our manners and make us much more polite people. Hmm?

3. Commenting on this post, Dak wonders aloud at how Sensecam-type data collection will affect social and legal interactions. He asks, if Sensecam data gets used in legal cases, how soon before forged recordings begin to surface?

4. Another reader comments that, in the near future, meeting places will need full-spectrum jammers to have private negotiations. And points out that Radio Shack are already offering an 'Aluminum' bearing paint to block wireless signals.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Human Blackbox Recorders For Tsunami and Other Natural Disasters?

With the recent Tsunami disaster affecting so many lives and so many people still missing, one can't help wondering whether Sensecam would have made it easier to trace people and help doctors treating injuries.

If Sensecam type gadgets were common, perhaps built into clothing or worn like a badge, and contained GPS tracking locators as the developers have hinted at, wouldn't it be much easier to locate some of the missing people?

Would these human blackbox recorders tell us anything that we need to know? Would anyone actually want to see the "bird's eye" view of a victim of a natural disaster? Could the information that a Sensecam provided, of someone being caught up in a Tsunami wave, help create safety products or things that could help minmise the impact of such natural disasters in the future? Would seeing what actually happened to their loved ones enable relatives to find better closure on their grief? Or would such evidence just be too graphic, too shocking, too horrible to bear?

ABC NEWS has nominated bloggers as it's Person of the Year, and even now hundreds of eye witness accounts of the Tsunami disaster are being recounted on personal blogs. Those bloggers would have been able to enhance their stories with Sensecam images of the disaster unfolding moment-by-moment.

The Tsunami disaster has presented us with some of the most graphically horrific images of death, injury and human tragedy. And many would argue that we shouldn't look at those images, that they shoud be censored. However this is the real human story and it must be told. The video footage, photographs and news reporting have all helped awaken this massive global compassion for the victims. Sensecam would have added new elements to this very important, very real human story. And those elements would have revealed in many instances the immense courage of many who risked and lost their lives trying to save others.

The Sensecam argument is that lives are worth saving. Everybody knows this.

Ways to help with Tsunami Relief

Monday, December 27, 2004

Visual Guide Maps Possible With Sensecam

Imagine an army of Sensecam-wearing travellers contributing their daily image captures to an online archive for travel information -- or perhaps to the Tourist Board or Ordinance Survey where the visual data can be turned into digital maps, a kind of "Walk this way..." on-the-ground visual guide to cities and specific locations.

Given that there is word that Sensecam (and similar products) will include Global Positioning System recorders that will match images to specific co-ordinates, you can see the possibility of travellers being able to pull up instant real-image maps on some kind of hand-held monitor.

Ancient memorisation systems often involved imagining a city and leaving objects or facts in specific locations around the city (in the mind), which would make it easier to remember. Using GPS data to file images associated with specific grid references or co-ordinates echoes this ancient art.

Armchair travellers could have the world opened up to them - viewing the different adventures of a hundred different Sensecam-wearing visitors to Rome, Egypt, New York, the Sahara, China or Timbuctoo!

Prospective visitors could get a feel for a place by viewing Sensecam data from fellow travellers who have trod the path before them. No more wondering whether there are long queues to get into the Colloseum on a Wednesday, or even what a particular hotel's breakfast buffet is like.

Travellers already in place in another city or country, could call up the data for where they are if they are lost and have a step by step view of where to go next or get an insider preview of a certain attraction to see if it's worth going in.

See also:
Internet Travel Monitor - Experimental Microsoft Gadget Keeps Record of Your Life

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Thankyou Letters Memory Jogger

Christmas has come and gone once again. And you are starting to think about sending Thankyou cards (you are, right?) for all those lovely or hideous gifts that you were given.

Okay. First letter. "Dear Aunt Mabel, Thank you so much for the lovely...." What the hell did she give me again?

And that's when it hits you. You have no idea which gift came from who. Maybe it was the Christmas spirit flowing so amply into your glass killing your brain cells but now you are as blank as the fresh fall of snow on the ground outside!

If I had been wearing a SenseCam, automatically capturing images as I opened my Christmas presents, I would be able to scan back through my image log for Christmas Day and look at the labels on the pile of presents that I got.

Then it would be no problem to write my thankyou cards and letters.

"Dear Aunt Mabel, Thank you so much for the lovely 6-toed mauve and green socks that play Jingle Bells with every step, for the bottle of Brut afershave for men, for the Statue of David fronted apron complete with genitalia. The nose and ear hair clippers will be particularly useful and much appreciated (I can already hear much better!). Best Wishes, Your Loving Nephew"

New Washington Post article on digital image capture versus traditional photography mentions SenseCam

See new Washinton Post article: Digitized And Brought To Life - New imaging allows miracles detailed and deeply personal.

This article explores the changes occuring in the photography market - the move from film to digital cameras and the spill-over affects that is having on society. The writer focuses on how new digital image capturing equipment has allowed her to resurrect old family histories by scanning decaying newspaper clippings, and storing, enlarging and restoring old photographs in a digital format. She goes on to explore how people are using digital cameras and mobile phone cameras as functional tools because digital photography gives you instant access to images. Now you can use your mobile phone camera to capture notes, take a surrepticious picture of someone you've just been introduced to so you can memorise their face later, or take a picture of a piece of burst piping so that you can show it to the manager of your local hardware store and get a replacement.

The article mentions software that Hewlard-Packet are making "that might one day tell stories about people's photos automatically, using data from such sources as global-positioning-systems."

It goes on to say how Microsoft is pursuing similar visions with the SenseCam. Here's the direct quote:

"It showed off a prototype called SenseCam this year, basically a camera in the form of a pendant or other object people can wear. The SenseCam is programmed to sense scene changes and events in people's lives and automatically take a ton of pictures."


Saturday, December 25, 2004

I Wish I Had A SenseCam!

It's on days like today, Christmas Day, when you wish you had a way of preserving the memories forever. Sure you can whip out a camera, but unless you are a genius with a camera, it usually lacks the spontaneity and ends up looking posed.

I have a 6 year old son, and I would love to have a SenseCam seeing and unobtrusively capturing what I have seen so far this Christmas Day. The unstoppable excitement as he woke up every half hour from 2.30 AM (groan!) to ask if he could open his presents yet!

The joyful wonder in his bright blue eyes as, at last, he got his hands on the presents that Santa had left in his Xmas stockings. The eager hands shaking with glee as he unwrapped them.

The family gathering in the living room, which was decorated with a snow white theme, with paper snowflakes (that we had all cut out) suspended on cotton thread from the ceiling, the tree covered in decorations and lights, the bright pile of presents beneath the tree -- and the look of wonder and excitement on the face of everyone in that room.

I wish I had a SenseCam to capture these true gifts -- these precious moments of togetherness, happiness and joy.

Did I mention it started snowing and we went out and made snow angels, and pelted each other with snowballs? It's not often that you have a picture perfect archetypal Christmas -- and I wish I could have caught each moment of it.

Are you listening Microsoft?

Thursday, December 23, 2004

New GizMag article on Sense Cam

GizMag article: SenseCam - the Black Box Flight Recorder for human beings asks an interesting question.

Does the SenseCam user own the information, or can it be used against the individual too - can it be used by an insurance company or police or another individual to the detriment of the wearer?

The article predicts that there will be some landmark cases that will determine the true answer to that question and cites how information from GPS and speed data recorders in cars is already being used in some legal prosecutions.

The idea that SenseCam may also add to the Reality TV trend is an intriguing one. Will we also one day be seeing program's like "America's Funniest SenseCam Videos" or "SenseCam Survivor"!

The suggestion that future versions of the SenseCam may have a heart rate monitor that triggers photo capture at moments of high stress and extreme heart rates, could lead to a very interesting "Pop Idol - the insider view" type programs... as well as providing very good biofeedback evidence in the conquest of stress.

Full artice here:

Monday, December 20, 2004

If Santa had SenseCam...

If Santa Claus had a SenseCam, what would we see when we reviewed the image captures from his epic Christmas Eve delivery run?

Well, despite the best efforts of Microsoft's Cambridge Research team, it would all be a blur.... The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) have clocked Santa travelling at over 600 times the speed of sound!

NORAD track Santa's progress every year and have concluded that the jolly man in the red suit must be using super high tech equipment to deliver to millions of homes all over the world!

Given Father Christmas's obvious love of technology, will the elves at the North Pole (or is it Microsoft HQ?) start making a commercial SenseCam for all those boys and girls all over the world who would love this cool gadget toy to play with?

A SenseCam can stay awake while you sleep, and capture what you miss, so it can only be a matter of time before some lucky SenseCam user captures an image of Santa Claus sneaking a mince pie before disappearing back up the chimney!

Surely Santa will be delivering Sensecams to a stocking near you soon?