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Microsoft Social Networks Hardware

MS's "Lifeblogging" Camera Enters Mass Production 119

holy_calamity writes "Remember Microsoft's camera to be slung around the necks of people with Alzheimer's to help them recall where they'd been? A version of this device will now be mass-produced by a UK firm, Vicon, which obtained a license from Microsoft to manufacture the camera. It is worn around the neck and takes an image every thirty seconds, or in response to its light sensor, accelerometer, or body-heat sensor indicating that something of interest may be happening. Until now only a few hundred had been made for research, which showed they can genuinely help people with memory problems. The new version will be marketed to Alzheimer's researchers this winter, and to consumers for 'lifelogging' beginning in 2010."
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MS's "Lifeblogging" Camera Enters Mass Production

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  • The big problem (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 17, 2009 @03:36PM (#29779369)

    Getting people with memory problems to remember they have them and how to use them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ColdWetDog ( 752185 )
      Yeah, I've got an issue with this. Most people with memory loss issues have problems with short term memory. Not so much "what is this thing around my neck" but more of issue of ignoring it and never downloading or looking at it. I find it hard to believe someone will go through several hours of stills to find their keys.

      It could be of use for family or health care providers to see what the person actually does all day, but again, somehow that seems like an awfully small niche item.

      I suspect this w
    • Re:The big problem (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Frans Faase ( 648933 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @04:06PM (#29779547) Homepage
      In the early stages of Alzheimer, people can remember a lot. I notice this with my 52 year old wife, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease in December 2006. Sometimes she can lose her keys twice within half an hour. But when I ask her to buy something, when she goes shopping, she usually succeeds in doing this. At the end of the day, she often does not know what she all did during the day. On other times she keeps repeating telling me some story about what happend during the day. I could imagine that something like "Lifeblogging" could help her to remember more of her day.
      • If it's a shop where she has been several times before, your wife should have no problem finding her way there and back, because this involves procedural memory, not short-term memory. Procedural memory is very deeply set in the brain, very hard to erase, and requires no conscious thinking. It's where your daily route to work is stored, where the lyrics to your favorite song are stored. People with Alzheimer's can remember and sing their favorite songs perfectly, as soon as you start playing the music. I re

        • Re:The big problem (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Frans Faase ( 648933 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @06:32PM (#29780469) Homepage
          This is very true. Most of her activities depend on procedural memory. It seems she has already forgotten all the things she does not do on a weekly basis. She is not able to write her name. Lately, I discovered that she cannot make the most simply 9 piece jigsaw puzzles any more. Even with three pieces left, she had a hard time. But if I play some old Chinese songs (she is from China), she immediately starts to sing a long. There are still many things she remembers. I am surprised that she still can remember her shoppings. Sometimes, I give her a list, but lately she is getting trouble with reading it seems. I have to read the list to her a few times. It seems she can remember up to about three items. She goes to do some shopping almost every day. She likes to bike around the city (we live in The Netherlands).
      • As an interesting and almost totally unrelated sidenote, you're saying that this product could help me keep track of my keys? Sweet.

    • Alzheimer's is just the distraction so they can get the bugs out before they make them mandatory on everyone.
  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @03:38PM (#29779381) Homepage

    The technology involved is bloody well obvious.

    • by Anpheus ( 908711 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @04:14PM (#29779593)

      Maybe the company in question is licensing a pre-made design and schematics?

      I think it's worth many lulz that you automatically assumed it was a patent license and thus a crime against humanity.

    • How about the device's operating system? Its software component installed on your PC? Methods* used to determine change in environment? Change in mood? and many many other little details.

      Obviously Vicon are not idiots and they saw a benefit in licensing the tech rather than building everything from ground up.

      *Possible patents
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Peet42 ( 904274 )

        It may have been cheaper to license an existing Micro$oft design than it would have been to get their own drivers certified for Vista/Windoze 7.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jipn4 ( 1367823 )

      Not only is it obvious, it has already existed for years: you can hang any camera with an interval function around your neck. People have done this to document their day, although it gets boring pretty fast (and has serious privacy implications).

      Furthermore, there are more and more tiny video cameras you can attach to your helmet and clothes and that last for many hours.

    • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @10:33PM (#29781551)

      The technology involved is bloody well obvious.

      "Cognitive Prosthetics" is bleeding-edge.

      The tech has to be proven in clinical trials. Digital technology eyed in fight against Alzheimer's []

      Clinical trials cost money.

      On November 27, Microsoft announced that it was giving $550 000 in funding to six teams of academic researchers in the United Kingdom and North America. One of the researchers, Fergus Gracey, a clinical psychologist from the Oliver Zangwill Centre for Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, in Ely, U.K., is planning to use SenseCam to help the rehabilitation of patients with acquired brain injury. "Many of our clients have a shorter fuse or find it difficult to manage emotional arousal," says Gracey. "We hope to use the reviewing of SenseCam images of the trigger situation, along with heart-rate recordings of the individual during that situation, to help prompt recall and to help the person tune in physiologically to what was going on." A Camera to Help Dementia Patients []

  • i can only imagine

  • I expect nothing less than 7 four-or-higher-modded slashdot dupe jokes out of this topic. Now, get to work!

  • The next thing in "social networking": link your "SenseCam" to your 'pod and upload an image to (already registered) every time you move your head. It will surely soon eclipse FaceSpace.

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @03:44PM (#29779423) Journal

    08:12 - "Hmmm, I trolled slashdot. Oh well."
    09:23 - "Hmmm, I trolled slashdot. Oh well."
    11:05 - "Hmmm, I trolled slashdot. Oh well."
    13:11 - "Hmmm, I trolled slashdot. Oh well."
    15:43 - "Hmmm, I trolled slashdot. Oh well." ...

  • by Teckla ( 630646 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @03:54PM (#29779481)

    Technology can and does change our lives in profound and wonderful ways, but...

    I think a pad of paper and a pen might be a better solution, or even a PDA (remember when they were called PDAs?) with a calendar and note taking application.

    8:10 AM - Took heart medication.

    9:45 AM - Went to market to pick up bread for dinner.

    10:30 AM - Took blood pressure medication.

    10:40 AM - Maintenance stopped by and fixed the leaky faucet in the bathroom. If it starts leaking again, call 555-1212 and ask for Ben and let him know it's still leaking.

    People with memory problems need a convenient and reliable memory enhancer. I doubt recording your life and having to watch it back over and over to see what you've done is convenient or reliable. Glancing at your pad of paper or calendar plus note taking application is easy, fast, convenient, and reliable.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      if you can remember how to use it.

    • by Neoncow ( 802085 )

      Why do something manually when you can do it automatically?

      I agree that the approach isn't useful for something like pill schedules. I think the intent is for general events. Something more along the lines of "Went to the park with grandchildren in the afternoon", "Saw old friend today", "Celebrated 87th birthday at favourite restaurant", and "Witnessed beautiful sunset last night".

    • by wizardforce ( 1005805 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @04:15PM (#29779603) Journal

      My grandmother has severe memory problems. We have tried a system very similar to what you describe and frankly, once her memory got bad enough to need such a system, she couldn't remember to note the things she should remember. We did most of the note taking for her and she would forget to use them. Honestly, the camera may help with memory problems just due to the fact that it does it automatically but really it may just come down to her forgetting why she has it and leave it somewhere. What people with memory problems like hers really need is care and attention from their family and friends. It is as simple as that. They're going through life with pieces missing and they often know it and that is really hard for them emotionally and no camera is going to fix that.

      • Actually what they need is a drug that inhibits the formation of the plaques and Tau tangles that kill their entire brain a piece at a time. (the entire brain is dying in alzheimer's, but the memory systems are obviously the most fragile and the first to fail completely)

        • What do you do about all the people for which the damage is already done? preventing the disorder is of course the thing to do if you can but remember that once the damage is done, it is very difficult to repair.

          • Nothing. That drug I mentioned is in clinical trials today, and it seems to completely halt the disease progressing. It'll be 50-100 years or more before we can effectively replace missing neurons....long before that, people will no longer get Alzheimers because of drugs that block it.
    • by cjerrells ( 1658899 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @04:38PM (#29779719)

      I haven't read the papers first-hand but did see the research presented and IIRC the point is that this doesn't just help the person to remember the facts of what they did (as your suggested approach would). Instead, it allowed them to retain the *actual memories* of what had happened. Having visual and audio records of the events of the day, and reviewing them periodically over the next couple of weeks actually helped these people retain their memories of the events. I'm pretty sure they said this extended to details not captured by the SenseCam, demonstrating that they weren't just remembering the material they'd reviewed.

      So quite different from 'Did I remember to take my pill? Oh yes, here, I wrote it down...'

      When I first heard about the SenseCam project it was the lifeblogging pitch and I thought it was cool but gimmicky. The research results they had for improving patients' memories really impressed me though.

    • by fractalspace ( 1241106 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @05:01PM (#29779867)
      6:24 AM - Took a dump
      7:45 AM - Woke up
    • But what if you forget where you put your notebook?
      No, that's a stupid idea.

      A better solution would be to tattoo little notes to yourself all over your body.
      That way you can't lose them.

    • by Frans Faase ( 648933 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @06:42PM (#29780531) Homepage
      Alzheimer's Disease is not only about memory. A recent article [] describes how certain cognive abilities, such as visuospatial skill, already start to decline three years before the first signs of memory imparement start to surface. My wife, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease about three years ago, can no longer write, not even her own name. She cannot even sign. She still thinks that she can write her name, but when she tries, she fails. Even copying her name from an example, is very hard for her. She can still read, although lately I have noticed, she is also starting to have problems with that. However, she still does most of our shoppings. She goes shopping almost everyday and I tell her what to buy. But I should limit the number of items to about three, otherwise she is getting trouble. If its more than one or two items, I have to give her a shopping list. I give her the list in the morning, before I go to my office, and in most cases it is only during the day, that she goes shopping. Her short-time memory is very poor. She can tell you the same story within five minutes, or also often loses her keys or makes things 'disappear' in the house.
      • I'm just wondering, you mentioned above that she is from China. Would writing her name in Chinese be easier (as it is more ingrained)?

        If practicing writing helps retain the skill, perhaps this would help.

    • by Frans Faase ( 648933 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @06:46PM (#29780559) Homepage
      O yeah, besides reading be a problem, reading the time from a clock is even a bigger problem. I have removed the minute hand from some of our clocks in home, because already very earlier phases of Alzheimer's Disease, confusing the hour and minute hands is a big problem. A sense of time is also one of the things that is often lost early phases of the disease.
    • by mysidia ( 191772 )

      Or an iPhone and an app to do that. Writing with pen and paper is just so inconvenient.

      Or you need a recorder with a button you push, to keep record of the past 90 seconds, while you said what you need to remember, or while you captured video of someone saying something particularly important.

      Rather than recording every moment, you need a way to tell the device what to record.

      • by Threni ( 635302 )

        This thing might well last longer than the year or so you can expect an iPhone to last before the battery fails.

    • I think a pad of paper and a pen might be a better solution, or even a PDA with a calendar and note taking application.

      8:10 AM - Took heart medication.
      10:30 AM - Took blood pressure medication.
      10:40 AM - Maintenance stopped by and fixed the leaky faucet

      The camera offers visual confirmation.

      It also records events that weren't logged.

      The Alzheimer's patient is usually elderly. The PDA or daily planner [] may never have been part of their lives. It may have become difficult for them to read or write for other re

  • by CrazyJim1 ( 809850 ) * on Saturday October 17, 2009 @04:03PM (#29779533) Journal
    Nothing but monitor shots.
  • Can you imagine what'd happen if Google got hold of this? We'd have high-resolution "street view" images of every bingo parlor on earth! Okay, in Japan it might be pachinko houses...

    With Microsoft at the helm, we can sit back free of worry - they've earned our trust with their consistent, careful handling of our personal information! Grandma is safe, cradled gently in Ballmer's strong arms...

  • Here are the first few snapshots of my daily activities.

    1) Using Draino in my stopped up kitchen sink
    2) Me standing naked in front of the mirror, contemplating my 250 lbs weight
    3) Using a plunger on an overflowing stopped up toilet
    4) Checking the tire pressure in my tires
    5) Posting on Slashdot
    6) Standing in line at the grocery store in a slow moving line
    7) Bending down looking for mosquito larvae in a puddle
    8) Staring at the mess in my closet and wondering when I will ever get around to cleaning it out
    9) Me
    • 6) Standing in line at the grocery store in a slow moving line
      7) Bending down looking for mosquito larvae in a puddle

      The line was so long you decided to just eat mosquitos? WTF, man.

      • Perhaps, I encountered a puddle in the parking lot while pushing my grocery cart out to my truck. However, your point is valid that the items in my list are not in a, well thought out, logical order.

        After finding mosquito larvae, I might be tempted to grab a couple of granules of VectoBac which contains a mosquito specific, mosquito larvae killing bacillus. However, I probably would not actually do that on someone else's property. On our own property, I have noticed that the bacillus kills mosquito larva,
  • by weinrich ( 414267 ) * on Saturday October 17, 2009 @04:28PM (#29779669)

    That's the next question outta my mouth after trying to figure out why the #!*@$ I walked into the kitchen in the first place.

  • by DeadboltX ( 751907 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @04:42PM (#29779731)
    I'd like to have one to wear for when I go drinking, as I usually end up somewhere I don't remember being!
  • "That's funny, I don't remember being underwater earlier."

    "How odd, it shows I was under water all day yesterday, just blue on every picture."

  • Not Life"B"logging (Score:4, Informative)

    by Chapter80 ( 926879 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @04:57PM (#29779819)

    Get the B out of there, in the headline. It's not life"B"logging!!!! You made up that word.

    The article refers to lifelog, not lifeblog.

    Let's not let another crappy made-up word enter our vocabulection!

  • by edwebdev ( 1304531 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @05:12PM (#29779937)
    This could be really useful if they added sound recording and a way to program the device to take a picture upon sensing a pre-determined stimulus. You could, for instance, record a couple samples of the sound keys make when you put them down somewhere and tell the device to take a snapshot whenever it detects a similar noise. Assuming accurate pattern-matching, something like this could really cut down on time lost searching for lost keys.

    I'm sure there are tons of other movement/light/sound stimuli combinations that would also be useful to program in as markers for important events. The sound of a car engine starting, a door closing or opening - if this could be opened up to community development, the possibilities are staggering.
  • Wait for them to become mandatory! ^^

    • by dossen ( 306388 )
      It might not be a bad idea if something like this was mandatory for civil servants while on duty (maybe with higher framerate or even full video - sound would be good too) - then a digital record of what actually took place would exist - that might be useful to resolve some cases where the parties do not agree on what happened...
      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        Portable DVR's have been around for decades. I have a camera+video recorder that fits in my pocket and can run for 6 hours on battery and record 3 months worth of video and audio on a 16Gig SDHC card.

        Why not just use what already exists and can be bought cheaply. Mine was $180.00 + the lipstick camera on a clip for $69.00 works awesome for my sports stuff and when it does not see movement it stops recording. works great to catch the ass that is stealing beer.

  • Not only will you look like a twat but the more you rely on technology to hold your hand, the worse your memory will get.
  • by jjh37997 ( 456473 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @05:45PM (#29780149) Homepage

    Imagine if this catches on and everyone starts wearing one and uploading their "lives" online. If people freaked about Google Streetview invading their "privacy" that will be nothing compared to what will happen when this tsunami hits. If each photo or video stream is encoded with the date, time and GPS coordinates and you combine it with some good facial recognition software we can finally bring back the ancestral "village" where everyone knows what everyone else is doing, all the time, everywhere. Sunlight is the best disinfectant and these little devices can help shine it everywhere.

    • by mick88 ( 198800 )

      It's funny you mention Little Brother. Gordon Bell, who is cited in TFA, has a new book out called "Total Recall" in which he talks about the future state of having us all recording / logging everything we do. He says it's not big brother you need to look out for, it really is Little Brother. We will all be each other's own paparazzi, in essence.

      It is a pretty good read in general - and TFA is just one of the ways that his predictions are coming true.

    • by mdwh2 ( 535323 )

      The really worrying thing is when the devices can be so small that you can't see them - and they can also therefore sneak past any "no camera" rules.

      And this might be possible in just a few years. Yes I do find that worrying...

    • Cars will be required to have this by 2012 actually in the EU...
      it helps road safety!

  • Could it be, that in 50 years, a person not wearing his camera will be viewed with deep suspicion?

    What are you up to, that you don't want recorded?..

    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      What are you up to, that you don't want recorded?..

      Watching a movie. If I carry my camera into the theater, they'll take it.

  • What's there to license? Standard digital cameras can be worn around your neck and have an interval function. There is absolutely nothing new here.

  • Gotta get me one of them to find out where I put down my reading glasses.
  • What if Microsoft used Danger to store the images???

    (Actually, it is good to see something from Microsoft Research make it to market, even if it's not Microsoft doing it...)


  • That'll be the citizens who supervise *themselves* ! Just give the government (or...) full access to everyones data and even the UK can switch off their CCTV cameras ! Brilliant !
  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @10:16PM (#29781501)

    07:45:30 Face down in oatmeal.

    07:46:00 Face down in oatmeal.

    07:46:30 Face down in oatmeal.

    07:47:00 Face down in oatmeal.

    07:47:30 Nurse wiping oatmeal off face.

    07:48:00 Face down in oatmeal.

  • This technology would be supremely useful for all of the people who got piss drunk and can't remember where they left their camera or parked their car.
    • Went to movie theater. Arrested for photographing movie.
    • Walked by school. Arrested for photographing kids.
    • Walked by cop. Arrested for photographing cop.
    • Walked by power substation. Arrested for photographing infrastructure.
    • Walked by military base. Arrested for suspected terrorism.
    • * Walked to court clerk's office to file lawsuits charging unlawful/false arrest.
      * Walked to local TV station to clue the local media in on this outrage.

      Remember, you can legally photograph anything, anyone, anytime, anywhere, as long as there aren't any clearly posted signs restricting it, even if there *are* signs of a "no trespassing" nature.

  • I'm a cognitive scientist and am a member of one of the teams who have been working with the MS SenseCam device (now to be called Vicon Revue), doing memory research. Most of us are academics and clinicians collaborating with Microsoft Research.

    This kind of technology (i.e., wearable automated sensors, cameras, etc. that capture massive troves of data about one's experiences) is becoming cheaper, better, and more ubiquitous. But we're still just beginning to explore the many possibilities for research
  • I guess if someone wearing this device went to watch a movie they wouldn't be so concerned as to where they had been but rather were they would be going after having unwittingly pirated a movie.
    Could you imagine being caught, with the evidence literally hanging around your neck but not even being able to remember having watched the movie in the first place. This thing sounds like a great idea.
  • Microsoft have derived a stack of publicity from the Sensecam and lifeblogging - it's made them look like a terrific company. I think this PR needs some counter-balance: Microsoft made Lyndsey Williams [], the inventor of the Sensecam, redundant []. Possibly not the best way to reward someone who was responsible for millions of dollars of positive PR; you don't get rid of the people who are doing brilliant work if you plan on delivering brilliant products in the future. But this has probably been a good thing for

  • How long till Alzheimers patients start getting sued for breach of copyright?

  • This is the concept I came up about 5 years ago, I still think it is marvelous idea (not for Alzheimer, but for trips and so). People said Im crazy. Big thump up to those brave people who made it happen! PS. Keep the price down.
  • Just one more step after Youtube, blogs, and Twitter to Neil Stephenson's gargoyles from Snow Crash.

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser