Wearing my Life on my Sleeve

By Carl Steinhilber | Technology Director

With the Apple Watch finally hitting the streets, and the lines forming around your local Apple Store, there seems to be a few more people willing to adopt wearable technology into their lives than a year ago. I admit it. I bought into the whole smartwatch thing. My wrist has been sporting an Android watch for a couple months now. And the number one question I get asked, besides “is that an Apple Watch?”, is “what can you do with it?” And that seems to be the big question around any wearable device. What can you really do with it? Or, rather, perhaps, what can it really do with you?

You could actually do quite a lot with the recently-retired Google Glass. From shooting video and taking calls to the Interactive augmentation of your real world with social activity and data, Glass was a very interesting experiment. While it could all but eliminate the single-most mentioned embarrassment in social situations – not being able to remember the name of an acquaintance – even that just wasn’t enough for most to get past the geeky look and almost inherent stuck-up attitude of the eyepiece.

The notion of Glass – to unobtrusively (to the wearer, at least) automatically and continuously record moments in time, in video, pictures, and other physiological data – is termed Lifelogging. But it’s not new. Industrious individuals have been creating their own lifelogging cameras and systems since the mid- to late-90s usually as wearable computers/cameras strapped around a users neck. Microsoft prototyped their SenseCam in 2003 as a sort of personal equivalent to an airliner’s “black box.” Some have advocated using lifelogging systems to aide patients with Alzheimers or amnesia. Others continue to petition for members of police forces across the world to adopt wearable cameras to record arrests and incidents. And, of course, it’s almost expected, anymore, that your trusty GoPro be rolling during all your extreme sporting activities. As cameras get smaller and smaller, the technology becomes more and more viable.

Shrinking Technology: Lifelogging systems getting smaller (left to right – first row: Steve Mann’s wearable computer – 1980 and lifeblogger lanyard – 1998, Microsoft’s SenseCam – 2004, second row: Memoto camera – 2012, Google Glass – 2013, LifeBlogger camera – 2015)

One of the latest manufacturers to jump into the fray is LifeLogger Technologies with their slimline wearable temple camera. Kind of like Google Glass, well, without the “glass,” and no more noticeable than a Bluetooth earpiece. Are things getting to a size that lifelogging will finally appeal to the masses? Or will it take Apple to release the iEye before lifelogging will be accepted?

And what of privacy concerns? What if you aren’t too keen on having your actions recorded by another? How can one possibly “opt out” of someone else’s lifelog?

What about you? Would you consider recording your life?