Category Archives: Narrative Updates

10 Million Memories

We started Narrative because we wanted to capture more of our moments and access more of our memories. Visual captures of a moment, more often known as photos, are tremendously powerful tools to relive more memories in our minds; so we built an always-on, automatic, wearable camera and an intelligent software for image analysis to go with it. Today we’ve reached an important milestone.

The more photos you take, the more moments you capture. The more moments you capture, the more memories you’ll access. The more memories you’ll access, the more of your identity you will discover and the richer your life will be. With this line of thought in mind – a line of thought that has been instrumental for us during these first two years of development – we are immensely proud and happy to see so many others sharing our vision.

As of today, more than 10,000,000 photos have been uploaded to Narrative. Being an impressively large number as it is, we get even more blown away when noticing it’s only been three months since the first Narrative Clip saw the light of day.

While the vast majority of these 10,000,000 photos are as private to the photographer as any old school photo album, many have been shared with us and the rest of the world. Some of these photos are amazing: unique, never before seen kind if imagery, sometimes artistic in a way not even the photographer expected. Some are blurry, out of focus or with an unexpected disposition. This, in fact, doesn’t matter. At Narrative, a lot of the value is in the quantity of photos, not in the “quality” of a single photo. And we think this number proves we’ll have to reconsider what a “quality photo” is. What is a good photo is only defined by the person looking at that photo to relive a memory. 10,000,000 photos means 10,000,000 possible memories for Narrative users to relive.

Here’s one of my favorites. Show us yours using #10millionmemories

A Lego Moment

A Lego Moment

 

Want to love your job? Narrative is hiring!

now-hiring-sign

 

We’re looking for talented and creative, lifelong learners to join us on this crazy and wonderful journey of bringing a new product to the world. Our team is growing fast along with our products and we need the best people help us move forward. If you’re interested in working with one of Europe’s hottest startups, find out more at Narrative Careers.

These are the positions we are openly recruiting.

jobs

What are people saying about Narrative? Check out Huffington Post’s Bianca Bosker’s review of her “favorite new accessory” or this post we put together of our first users’ impressions.

 

First user impressions of Narrative Clip: Round-up plus our responses!

We’re so happy to finally start getting feedback from real users! The Narrative Clip is now out in the wild and we’re steadily ramping up production to get it in the hands of everyone still waiting for their delivery. Meanwhile, we thought we’d present you with some highlights from what people have been writing about their personal product experiences these first weeks. Most of the quotes and points refer to five users who have written more or less extensive blog posts – the links are all listed at the end of this post! Also, all photos have been given explicit consent by the content owners to be shared here.

The dialogue between us and our dear community is of course on an ongoing basis, and it’s only because of your fantastic engagement and willingness to share your thoughts and issues directly with us that we can keep improving the Narrative user experience. We’re happy to have a lot of user-to-user dialogue going on in this facebook group started by engaged customers just like you!

 

Unboxing/getting started

 

It seems that many of you have a pleasant experience opening the Narrative Clip box, some of you even comparing the packaging to that of an Apple product! Also appreciated is the simplicity of installing the necessary software and getting started wearing the Clip and taking photos. That said, we’re also getting some feedback that the included manual could be more clearly descriptive in how to get started – and also in explaining some of the not-so-obvious intricacies. We are in process of reworking the manual according to these and other change requests.

*** See planned additions to the manual at the bottom of this post!

 

Using the Narrative app on iPhone/Android

 

Most comments on the user interface of the Narrative App (the central part of the Narrative experience) have been positive, encapsulating the value of photo lifelogging as a complement to other forms of life documentation. Praise such as “beautiful, intuitive UI” again makes us happy – it really is paramount for us to build a product and service that’s accessible to all.

Liora shone light on an unexpected benefit, realising that the Narrative Clip gives her a recording of the creative process as an artist. She also noticed that the photos could make her aware of bad habits, making her motivated to make positive life changes. These are great examples of insights after the fact – moments and things captured even though you didn’t realise their value until in retrospect. On that note, Gavin shared a beautiful example of “photos you couldn’t have without Narrative Clip” here:

Narrative Clip picture of son

“This really is what makes Narrative Clip awesome. Like diamonds in the rough, there are photos that will appear that make it all worth it.” – Gavin Neal (photo shared with explicit consent from owner)

There were also some issues with the app experience (and the uploader software that transfers your photos from the Clip to the Narrative Cloud, making them accessible in the app). They’re addressed at the bottom of this post. Our support and dev team are hard at work taking in and acting on the great feedback we’re receiving, and an overwhelmingly positive response to that work shows in your comments about our communication and speed in fixing the issues that do appear.

 

Interesting discoveries and insights

With any new technology there is the need for the individual and society to grow into a natural relationship with it. From these first user impressions we can see how the Narrative Clip raises questions that we will have to collaborate to find the best answers to:

 

- “When is it valuable for myself to use the Narrative Clip?”

Dirk discovered that wearing it all the times invariably results in getting lots of uninteresting photos – life itself just isn’t that interesting all the time. As a result, he stopped wearing it at home. While a primary aim for us at Narrative is to sharpen the “momentification” algorithms enough that you will not need to wade through masses of uninteresting photos, we also recognize that many of our customers will mainly use the Clip for special occasions.

Meanwhile, Chris’s reason for getting a Narrative Clip from the start was to use it for one specific purpose, namely while out doing endurance sports. For Chris and others like him, maybe the reverse pattern will be true and they instead start wearing it more and more when they discover the value of getting those good photos?

 

 

- “When do others consider me intrusive for using a wearable, automatic camera in their presence?”

There are of course the settings where it’s explicitly not ok to take photos, whether with a normal handheld camera or otherwise: public restrooms, airport security, many workplaces such as hospitals etc. A common theme in these first user posts, however, is also that wearing the Narrative Clip makes them feel self-conscious in social situations.

“It’s called a Narrative Clip, and it takes a photo automatically every 30 seconds. Those photos are only visible to me — they don’t get broadcast anywhere. It lets me capture neat things like a beautiful sunset the other night. If it makes you uncomfortable, please let me know and I’ll be happy to take it off.”

- “elevator pitch” by Liora Hess

Feeling concerned about others’ privacy is of course a good thing, and one good tip from Liora is to actually have an “elevator pitch” to be able to explain in a few sentences what the Narrative Clip is and why one is using it. When emphasis is put on the very personal nature of one’s “timeline” and that public sharing of photos is done only after manually reviewing and explicitly choosing to do so, conversation often shifts from a suspicious to a curious tone. On the other hand, Gavin’s experience was that “family members loved it and took turns wearing it”, which echoes the response many of us in the Narrative team has gotten from our friends and family.

So – what would your elevator pitch be? Would you wait until being asked about what you’re wearing, or preempt the question by announcing to your counterpart in the beginning of your interaction?

 

Perceived issues (with Narrative comments)

 

 

This is of course just the beginning of creating the best user experience possible, and everyday since shipping the first Clips we’ve been getting great feedback on how to improve. Some comments on those issues can be found below. Our support team is always there for you when you experience troubles or just have questions for us – please reach out to us at any time!

 

- “Not all photos look as good as I expected”

Almost everyone will experience weird angles camera pointing at the ceiling, etc when they start using the Narrative Clip. By virtue of the Narrative Clip being a wearable, automatic camera (likely the first one of it’s kind for most of our users) there will often be an initial period of getting familiar with it – how to wear it in different ways on different kinds of clothes, propping it up on or attaching it to various objects, etc. Some of our users are creating versions of a DIY adjustable-length necklace so the Clip can be positioned at a height where it’s pointing more or less straight ahead, and as announced earlier we ARE planning to release an official wideangle lens accessory. However, a big part of the Narrative experience is about letting go of the pressure of documenting life as it happens – just knowing that you will get lots of photos without any effort, including a number of beautiful, in the moment shots that you would never have had without the Narrative Clip.

There’s also the issue of color representation/graininess – especially in photos taken in low-light conditions. The camera sensor in the Narrative Clip is comparable to most smartphone cameras, likewise with the photo quality if taken under similar conditions (keeping in mind that mostly, with your smartphone you hold it still while taking a photo, carefully aiming it and looking at the object on your screen while shooting. You also have flash to help you out in low-light surroundings). What the app is presenting today are unprocessed photos, but we’re experimenting internally with different kinds of visual post-processing (enhancing colors/saturation, smoothen out “graininess”, increase contrast in dark photos etc) to make the photos look even better, and will of course roll out the best solutions we can find to our users. These could be presented as automatic, across-the-board improvements OR a selection of “instagram-like” filters.

 

- “I’m having issues with the app and uploader”

Uploading takes a long time for many users – this is a natural effect of creating massive amounts of data, combined with a slow internet connection of some users. We’re looking at possible ways to optimize data sizes BEFORE uploading, and we’ve already introduced a feature to throttle the uploading speed for users that experience the Narrative uploader hogging all their bandwidth.

We’re also straightening out some bugs related to timestamps/jumbled order of photos and moments as well as “delete” function. New versions of the iPhone/Android apps and Uploader are pushed out several times per week.

 

- “I’m unclear of how my timeline/moments/photos are organized and presented in the Narrative app” (momentification)

Narrative on IOS: timeline view

“Reliving the day prior is kinda cool and the app works well.” – Gavin

The point of momentification is to use image analysis to make sure you see the photos that are “best” and most interesting to you, and for you to feel that the Narrative Clip’s output of potentially thousands of photos per day is manageable in a simple, fun and engaging way. In the timeline you should get a good overview of your days, and in the moment view you should be able to dig in and interact with all your photos. How to present “it all” is a balancing act – it involves automatic sorting based on time, place and quality, rotating and cropping for ease on the eyes for mobile browsing, and many other factors. The coming search function is also of course a key ingredient in this. We want to stress that we’re continuously working on improving all steps in this chain – from smarter algorithms to better mobile UI to alternative interfaces such as web/tablet to more sharing and photo management options – and that all your photos are safely stored in the backend in their original, uncropped format. This means that you will be able to access them in their full size and aspect ratio, just as we’ve promised from the start. Our developers are fully committed to giving you the best possible way to browse, explore, search and share your photos, and we’ve only just begun with the most simple feature set on which to build even more awesomeness.

 

*** Examples of planned additions/clarifications in the manual

  • Double-tapping to take an extra photo makes the LEDs light up for a second, and the photo is taken when the lights go down again. Also, what triggers the double-tap is the ACCELEROMETER sensor – this means that the whole Clip needs to sense the taps as “knocks”. If you tap it just lightly (as you would a smartphone screen) it will often NOT trigger the extra photo. It will take a few tries to get the hang of it.
  • “Soft sleep” vs “hard sleep”: When putting the Clip upside down on a flat surface it’s in “hard sleep” – taking no photos. BUT if you “only” put it in your pocket etc (only darkness, not necessarily in a flat/prone position), it instead switches to “soft sleep” / low frequency mode, waking up and taking a photo/sensing the light with longer and longer intervals until it senses light again. (These dark photos will be automatically removed during momentification in the Narrative Cloud.) In both cases, the certain way to wake it up again within seconds rather than what could be a few minutes, is to double-tap it. Soft sleep from temporarily (and unknowingly) covering the Narrative Clip is a likely reason that you’re not getting photos from times you think you should have.

 

Links (plenty of sample photos inside, please do take a gander!)

Dirk Haun’s blog part 2 part 3 (@dirkhaun)
Liora Hess’ blog part 2 (@liorahess)
Gavin Neal’s blog (@countknuckles)
Chris Ridings’ blog (@chrisriding)
Eric Klein’s blog (@sircoolio)

Thanks for reading! Please join the discussion with a comment below – or use Facebook/Twitter to get in touch with us!

 

Positive outcome of tests moves Narrative into next stage of shipping

Holiday seasons are always hectic but it feels like this year sets some kind of record. A lot is happening at Narrative even over the the holidays and we figured we should share with you what’s new since last time.

Second batch shipped last week

We shipped another batch of Narrative Clips the week before Christmas and this time mainly to early backers in Europe. As far as we can see, they seem to have arrived as they should, although some of you might still have your unit in transit. We hope you will all get them in your hands as soon as possible!

While waiting, here are some thoughts (and a picture) from three of the earliest users on what it’s like to use Narrative.

Successful delivery from new supplier

Those of you who’ve been following our updates regularly might remember that we awaited a crucial test during the holidays. As has been described in these previous updates, we’ve experienced serious issues with two of our suppliers (mainly the PCB supplier but also the camera module supplier), rendering a yield (i.e. percentage of assembled units passing quality tests) of finalized Clip units far lower than required. This caused costs and heavy delays and forced us to take the long term necessary decision of replacing these suppliers, a replacement that in itself causes additional heavy delays. Here’s a collection of old updates describing all this in detail.

So what’s the status of those suppliers now? Replacing the camera module supplier with a new one is a process under way and in the meantime we keep purchasing components from the old one. Since the issue is in the yield, the only effect of using the old supplier is that we have slightly higher costs than desired (having to discard more units than necessary). The end quality of each unit is not affected and the camera modules are currently not a bottleneck for the short term production.

The major bottleneck has been the PCBs: it’s been the component with the affect highest to the yield. A few days ago our factory received the first batch of PCBs from the new supplier and after surface mounting the components, the new PCBs have been tested to find out if they will render a higher yield or if we will have to look further to resolve the problems.

The outcome was the one we hoped for: the yield of the new PCBs is near 100%, which is great. We can now move to a new phase of shipping and start scaling up production rate to where we need it to be. There is still a three-week lead time to get the new PCB supplier up to speed, but this was accounted for when we adjusted all shipping dates before the holidays. The camera module supplier is also replaced but as described above it’s not a replacement that we see will significantly affect the production rate in either direction.

What this means for you as a Kickstarter backer or pre-order customer is that the shipping date you see on shipping.getnarrative.com still holds. We have no information at this point that indicates further delays. If we get any indications of further delays, we’ll let you know immediately.

We also want to emphasize that the Clips already shipped all have the high quality we demand. Replacing the suppliers will not improve the quality in an individual unit, but render a higher percentage of assembled units to achieve the high quality standards (i.e improve the yield).

About shipping orders

On a related note, some have asked us how we choose who to ship to first. And how it can be that even though you backed us on Kickstarter on the very first day, your delivery is not coming until many weeks after the first batch.

Basically, we have three governing parameters that control the order of shipments:

1. Time of backing on Kickstarter or placing your pre-order. This is the strongest parameter: we ship only Kickstarter pledge reward units right now and, as far as possible, in the individual order that the pledges were made. After these have all been shipped, we will start shipping to pre-order customers. Remember that we had over 1000 backers the first day on Kickstarter, but the so far low production rate has meant that the deliveries of the rewards for these early pledges have been spread out over more than a month (mid-December to early February). This is why some of you frustratingly have a shipping date in January or February even though you backed us the first day.

2. Color. As described in previous updates, color mixes have been an issue in the mass production. Therefore, we’ve only produced units in one color, namely gray since it was an easy color to mix and one that a lot of you requested. Starting now, we will produce white units and in the next batches orange and black.

3. Geography. To minimize the risk of problems with shipping (including multiple shipping partners, customs, etc) we’ve strived for keeping each batch in geographical areas close to each other. The first batch was to US backers only, the second one almost exclusively to Europeans and this next one will be a mix of the two. For the next batch (estimated for mid January) we expect to be able to ship to all over the world.

TL;DR: new PCB supplier is great so far, the shipping schedule holds and we keep shipping Narrative Clips according to the current schedule. We’ll keep you posted on the progress.

As always, if you have any questions go to http://support.getnarrative.com to get in touch.
Until next time: Happy New Year!With love,

Narrative Team

We. Are. Shipping.

Hello friends!

Okay, so we’re pretty stoked over here. As you know, we’ve been in production for a while now and today it’s actually happening! The first Narrative Clip units are on their way to you! Yes, that’s true: they’ve been assembled, tested, packed and shipped!

Here’s the last photo taken of our babies before they left on their long journey:

20131205_172839

These are on their way to the very first backers!

For the rest, here’s what’s happening now.

Some background first. The three main reasons why we have been delayed with the mass production of Narrative Clip have been:

  1. A quality issue with the printed circuit boards (PCBs)
  2. A quality issue with the camera modules, causing a bit low yield
  3. Trouble with fine-tuning the plastic mix for some of the Clip colors, in order to retain both strength and color fidelity

The color issue is now considered solved and shouldn’t pose an obstacle to production.

We have also put some pressure on the suppliers and are receiving new batches of components of a more consistent quality. With these new components, we have built the first mass-produced batch of Narrative Clips which are the ones now being shipped.

However, with yields still being low – and thus the production line still too insecure and expensive – we have decided to replace the suppliers of PCBs and camera modules. It will take two weeks or so to get the components from the new suppliers over to our factory. In the meantime, we have enough components in stock to continue producing a few more small batches, which we will ship as fast as humanly possible. Still, the production pace is not at all as high as we would like and we will have to push the shipping date for some of you back further. Check back in on http://shipping.getnarrative.com/ to find out about your personal estimates. (Please note that the changes are not reflected at the time of writing, but we’re working on updating them as soon as possible.)

baby narratives linus

The best news here are that we are now on track for mass production. From here on it’s full speed ahead to getting Narrative Clips to all you fantastic Kickstarter backers and pre-order people.

The entire Narrative Team is on its toes to make this happen. Don’t forget to reach out to support.getnarrative.com with any question or comment you have. We love you all.

Best,

Narrative Team

What’s going on at Narrative FAQ

Dear Narrative Customers,

The past few weeks we have gotten a lot of questions on how the production and shipping is going. We have taken most common ones and done a little Q and A here.

Trial Assembly Photos

Q1: Have the first Kickstarter backers received their Narrative Clips yet?

Excluding the cameras that have gone out to testers, not as of yet, and the reason is the units don’t meet our required standards. We have discovered a quality issue in the camera units that were due for shipping last week; essentially they passed our production tests at the first stages of assembly but a certain percentage of the fully assembled units failed the last tests we do before shipping (the units are exposed to a whole battery of tests to assure all shipped units are of excellent quality). So even the already manufactured cameras have been held back.

Q2: What is holding you back?

Upon closer analysis the failed tests turned out to depend on quality issues in the printed circuit board and surface mount assembly processes (PCB and SMT, which are done in separate factories). This in turn resulted in a sensitivity to mechanical stress, which happens during transport, or when you assemble boards in our casings, solder batteries etc. Given this, we were very reluctant to ship out even the units that passed all tests, as they are part of the same manufacturing batch and could simply drop dead during transport, out of our control.

Q3: Why can’t you at least ship some and wait with the rest?

When you manufacture something you always have to accept some percentage of manufacturing failures; those you can either choose to ship and hope for the best, or discard. We’ve chosen the latter but what makes it more complicated in this case, is that it’s not entirely possible to decide which units would work fine in the long run and which would eventually break down. The nature of the issue is such that we can’t separate the potentially good units from the bad that could not withstand mechanical stress due to transport and everyday use. Unfortunately, stuff like this happens in this industry sometimes and we are using a high level of technology in our design in order to cram everything into our small form factor.

Q4: So what are you doing to remedy the problems and when can I expect my shipment?

Our PCB and SMT factories have located the quality issues and are re-doing all units for us for free (including extra checks like x-raying all layers in the PCBs as they are glued together), which we expect to have on Friday or Monday for a new assembly and packaging session. We are operating under the assumption that it will work well this time and will keep you posted.

It’s important to know that we have the very best engineers available on the ground in Taiwan, and the problems are not arising from the design or engineering of the Narrative Clip. Our suppliers of PCB and SMT are adjusting their processes to account for the problems that have arisen and are assuring us that they will be remedied.

To keep up with your personal estimated shipping date for your order, please visit, http://shipping.getnarrative.com/. It will be updated with the latest information we have.

Love,

The Narrative Team

Narrative Clip shipping update

Dear Narrative Community,

Now that we are 12 days in to November we thought we should update you on the shipping status.

Putting it together

Action shot from the factory by Narrative team member Linus

During these first days, we’ve built and shipped the first trial batch of the final series. We had some batch variance issues with the camera modules. These modules were meant for use in the first assembled batch of 1000 units from our factory, which meant we had to spend a few days figuring out what the difference in the modules meant and how to remedy it. Likewise, we had some unfortunate unit-to-unit and temperature-sensitivity variations of a power-chain component that has had less testing time than desired and this also required some time to find and figure out a solution.

Issues like these always happen in the production of electronics and are normally absorbed in the overall project lead-times involved. In this case though, we want to get as many units out to you as quickly as possible. So we are trying to run a slightly more compressed time schedule, which has the downside that these type of minor hiccups can cause a little delay.

So, what does that mean for your shipping?

If your shipping date is after this week (week of Nov 11) you are not affected. The small delay will be absorbed quickly over time.

If your shipping date is this week, the new estimated date for when your unit leaves the factory is next week. That’s the time we need to fix the error.

All of the other mass-produced components are of a very high quality and the mass-assembly and packaging is set up to proceed with production and shipping as soon as possible.

We’re very happy that we’re able to get you all your products very soon. Can’t wait to hear what you all think about them.

Love,
Narrative Team

Shipping the Narrative Clip

Today’s the day!

Two members from the Narrative team, Johan and Linus, have been working with the Yomura team in Taiwan to get your clips ready to go. There’s been a lot going on from making sure the components for thousands of cameras are in order to testing them to make sure they work. And the last report those of us in Stockholm received from Taiwan was “everything is excellent.”

The first cameras are off the production line, packaged and ready to go. This first batch is a smaller one so we can make sure the entire process, all the way through shipping through our fulfillment partner, is in working order. Next week the focus is on ramping up production.

Narrative Clip Camera modules ready to go

Narrative Clip Camera modules ready to go

Batteries

Batteries

PCBs

PCBs

Test menu

Production testing menu

Anderson from Yomura running a production test

Anderson from Yomura running a production test

X-ray

Electronics supplier going over an X-ray of the Narrative Clip electronics

DSC02271

Ready for packaging!

boxes

Be on the lookout!

Have a great weekend!

/Narrative team

 

 

 

 

Shipping preparations

Make yours @ BigHugeLabs.com

We will be shipping the Narrative Clip camera to thousands of fantastic people in 53 countries!

The factory is in full mass production of all parts and some Narrative team members are there to oversee this first production! Those of us in Sweden are working hard to make sure the shipping goes off without a hitch and you have the support you need at your fingertips. We’ve revamped our support page where you can easily get in touch with the Narrative support team and check out the Narrative Knowledge Base.

Address changes

If your shipping address has changed since you ordered, please use this Change of Address Form.

Customer Survey

We’ve learned a lot through the beta testing, one major thing is the benefit of facilitating peer-to-peer support. Please take a minute and answer this short survey about how you would prefer to interact with other Narrative users.

Shipment date, new partners and farewell to a name we love

Today, we are happy and proud to make three major announcements that we think will all have a great positive impact on how we can serve our community of backers, customers and friends.

Our CEO Martin Källström says it best in his open letter - we recommend you read it for the full picture - but to summarize:

  • Memoto can not be called Memoto any more. We have come to the conclusion that the brand Memoto can’t be used on a global scale, specifically because it conflicts with similar trademarks in the market. After painfully realizing we have to give up Memoto and search for a new name, we are very pleased with what we have found. The company previously known as Memoto is now called Narrative. We think Narrative resonates very well with what we try do to and under this new name we can even better explore our ideas for the future.

trueventures logo

  • Finally, we can announce the starting date for the shipping to Narrative’s Kickstarter backers and pre-order customers: on November 1st, the first batch of cameras will roll out from the factory in Taiwan. From there on, we will continue shipping as quickly as possible. In a couple of weeks, we will have an interface ready where you can log in with your email address to see an estimate on when your unit will arrive.

SHIPPING IT

As always, we appreciate your feedback. Because of the name change, some of the contact points have been updated:

We wouldn’t have come this far without our fantastic community and we want to thank you for all for your support and faith in us. Please head on over to the former Memoto website to read a letter from Martin, our CEO.

Much love,

Narrative team