What’s Gordon Bell betting on?

By Gordon Bell. Gordon is a Principal Researcher at Microsoft working on lifelogging and appears in the upcoming documentary, Lifeloggers.

With all the cameras aimed at continuous personal recording that Steve Mann called Sousveillance, it seems certain that “Extreme Lifelogging” by 2020 is certain—a prediction I made in 2010. Whether Extreme Lifelogging (EL), or for that matter, any technology becomes a useful product or service is based on three factors: Can it be done? Is it proven to be useful i.e. does anyone want it at that price? And is it legal? Until now, only a few of us were exploring whether it was useful for anything other than the creation of research papers including human interest stories about weird looking people. Only a few thousand cameras capable of near EL existed and were in use including a few being used for research to aid people with impaired memory. EL with images and AUDIO recording for everything we see and hear are yet to be available and in use by consumers. The recording of conversations, particularly phone conversations is certainly prevalent for commercial purposes, yet there is little real use of audio aka voice recording.

Generally overlooked is that a number of police forces are being equipped with high quality, personal video recorders attached to a patrol person or their car. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/07/business/wearable-video-cameras-for-police-officers.html?emc=eta1&_r=0 Let me not discuss this because hundreds of articles, blogs, books, lawsuits, papers, and TV programs (including a real TV program of arrests) have been and will be devoted to this. Needless to say, because these devices are small, have to work and deliver reliable results, the engineering of this equipment is something that should be the envy of extreme lifeloggers. Watch, sunglasses, shirt button, etc. embedded video spy cameras are plentiful at less than $100 for surreptitious recording. Ironically, while sousveillance is also thought of as the inverse of surveillance, with pervasive and ubiquitous recording by everything by everybody, we will reach having the ultimate, full-scale surveillance.

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Happily for those of us who believe there may be a utility of various facets of lifelogging this is all about to change brought about by cameras like the “Go Pro” still/video camera for sports. Smartphones e.g. iPhone host a plethora of time lapse photo and video apps that are only limited by imagination and battery life. Two SenseCam inspired devices from Autographer and Memoto are in the process of being engineered for introduction. All these devices will end up costing about $500 depending on whether there is some sort of service subscription for image storage. Sensr.net, a company I invested in, hosts video and time-lapse photos from these sources as well as web cams.

Google Glass is the device that has drawn the most attention for several reasons: it is more than a video camera and mic mounted on the frame of a glasses; it has a speaker and display evolved from Thad Starner’s years of experience and displays; and finally it is a platform for apps. Already various Silicon Valley venture funds are being raised to support startup companies who will use GG as a component for all manner of apps. Thus, it is a safe bet that a significant app will emerge from so many tries.


I would like to place an optimistic bet that within 5 years, there will be 10 million GGs in use when priced at a few hundred dollars.

Alternatively, if someone has a more optimistic feeling and is willing to bet 2 years and just 2 million units, I’d take the conservative side—the side I usually win on.

Republished with permission of the author.

Interested in learning more about Lifelogging? Visit http://lifeloggersmovie.com for more information.