extreme bloggin’

from Popular Science

In 2021 You’ll Enjoy Total Recall

Humans naturally have the power to remember almost two bits of information per second, or a few hundred megabytes over a lifetime. Compared with a DVD movie, which holds up to 17 gigabytes, that’s nothing. Worse, you might easily recall the 40-year-old dialogue from Hogan’s Heroes yet forget your mom’s birthday. Or memorize reams of sports stats while spacing out on work you completed just last week.

It’s a problem that’s been bothering Gordon Bell for almost as long as he can remember. In 1998 Bell, a senior researcher at Microsoft, began digitally capturing his entire life for a project he calls MyLifeBits. First, he scanned his old photographs, research documents and notes. He began recording his meetings and phone calls and cataloguing his new photos and movies he saw. Every e-mail exchange he had was digitally archived, and he started using the company’s prototype SenseCam, which he wears around his neck, to automatically snap photos throughout the day.

Bell now documents about one gigabyte of information every month, all of which is stored in a searchable database on his PC. His is a highly manual process, but he expects that in as few as 15 years it will be common to carry nearly all our “memories” around with us in a single device that will automatically record the sound and video of our daily activities, creating an inventory of the conversations we have, the faces we see and the articles we read. That data would be tied to communications that are already tracked electronically, like e-mail and event calendars, as well as TV shows, movies and other media we take in. The end result: on-demand total recall.

The biggest challenge to Bell’s vision is developing the software required to search your memory database effectively. So far, MyLifeBits pulls together more than 20 data types to link various memories to one another. Using a full-text search, Bell tracks down what he’s looking for in no more than 30 seconds. Soon, when searching through meeting notes, for instance, photos of people attending those meetings and their contact information will appear side by side. The effort could be pushed along by Columbia University researchers who are using statistical-analysis programs to automatically sort hours of recorded audio by time and location (office, café, etcetera). Next, they’ll tackle speaker recognition, which would allow for categorizing and searching conversation by who’s talking.

Meanwhile, miniaturization and the falling cost of image sensors and data storage will soon allow for unobtrusive recording, as well as on-person storage, of several terabytes—which means a vast upgrade in personal processing power. “Having a surrogate memory creates a freeing and secure feeling,” Bell says of his self-experiment. “It’s similar to having an assistant with perfect memory.”

For slightly different info, check the PopSci Podcast

Digging further on the Microsoft sites we learn slightly more.

re: SenseCam:

SenseCam is a badge-sized wearable camera that captures up to 2000 VGA images per day into 128Mbyte FLASH memory.

Sensors trigger a new recording. For example, each time the person walks into a new room, this light change transition is detected and the room image is captured with an ultra wide angle or fish-eye lens. Other triggers include, time, sudden movement, or a person nearby. A hand gesture can also manually capture an image. An accelerometer is used for image stabilisation to reduce blurred images caused by camera motion. This is an essential feature of any truly wearable camera.

The sensor data (motion, light, temperature, and near infrared images) is recorded for later correlation with other user data, for example in the MyLifeBits system. MyLifeBits will allow the large number of images generated daily to be easily searched and accessed. Future SenseCams will also capture audio and possibly heart rate or other physiological data.
example SenseCam photo

.. if only it was WiFi and auto-uploaded to say a Flickr stream or something?..

re: MyLifeBits:

MyLifeBits is a lifetime store of everything. It is the fulfillment of Vannevar Bush‘s 1945 Memex vision including full-text search, text & audio annotations, and hyperlinks. There are two parts to MyLifeBits: an experiment in lifetime storage, and a software research effort.

The experiment: Gordon Bell has captured a lifetime’s worth of articles, books, cards, CDs, letters, memos, papers, photos, pictures, presentations, home movies, videotaped lectures, and voice recordings and stored them digitally. He is now paperless, and is beginning to capture phone calls, IM transcripts, television, and radio.

The software research:Jim Gemmell and Roger Lueder have developed the MyLifeBits software, which leverages SQL server to support: hyperlinks, annotations, reports, saved queries, pivoting, clustering, and fast search. MyLifeBits is designed to make annotation easy, including gang annotation on right click, voice annotation, and web browser integration. It includes tools to record web pages, IM transcripts, radio and television. The MyLifeBits screensaver supports annotation and rating. We are beginning to explore features such as document similarity ranking and faceted classification. We have collaborated with the WWMX team to get a mapped UI, and with the SenseCam team to digest and display SenseCam output.

..poor MS, do they really have a chance with this? odds are Google will release something far superior just when they think they’re done..

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