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At least you know it's recording...
June 23, 2013 6:09 PM   Subscribe

The end of Summer 2013 should see the release of Memoto, a wearable camera that takes a picture of what's in front of you every thirty seconds 24/7. Billed as an unobtrusive observer for lifebloggers, it is also being touted as a legal witness and an alibi provider. An interview that asks Memoto's CEO about privacy. (warning: interview filmed in shaky-cam)
posted by Tell Me No Lies (38 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Gargoyles represent the embarrassing side of the Central Intelligence Corporation. Instead of using laptops, they wear their computers on their bodies, broken up into separate modules that hang on the waist, on the back, on the headset. They serve as human surveillance devices, recording everything that happens around them. Nothing looks stupider; these getups are the modern-day equivalent of the slide-rule scabbard or the calculator pouch on the belt, marking the user as belonging to a class that is at once above and far below human society.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:13 PM on June 23, 2013 [19 favorites]


How can it be an alibi for someone who won't be in any of the pictures?
posted by dobbs at 6:22 PM on June 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


Well among other things I'm sure it will get pictures of all the CCTVs you're on. :-)
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:41 PM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Reflective surfaces? I mean, the problem is likely to be that, since you have access to the device, you could have edited the metadata and GPS info...

I can't imagine ever wanting to wear this, but I will be interested to see what people do with them...
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:32 PM on June 23, 2013


It doesn't necessarily verify the actions of the wearer, but it documents any number of potential alibi witnesses to verify them (who might have been otherwise forgotten).
posted by fallacy of the beard at 7:39 PM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would totally stick one of these on our outdoor cat, if not just to see how far he wanders each day. Though he might also appreciate having a photo album of his favorite kills...
posted by bizwank at 8:25 PM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd love to have one of these to record my hikes, particularly when I go to Yellowstone later this year.
posted by des at 9:04 PM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


What a perfect creeper tool.
posted by srboisvert at 9:57 PM on June 23, 2013


The one thing I'd want something like this for, and this doesn't do the job, would be to record any interactions with authorities.
posted by maxwelton at 10:12 PM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Does anyone know where all the Museum Of Animal Perspectives videos have gone? They're 404 from Flickr and were a perfect use of this technology.
posted by migurski at 11:15 PM on June 23, 2013


This would be wonderful for hiking and climbing
posted by livejamie at 11:21 PM on June 23, 2013


Get ready to see some very interesting art projects!
posted by SteelDancin at 1:25 AM on June 24, 2013


Why the fuck is this $279? It even looks like some brandless actioncam you'd buy on ebay "ships from china" for $7.22 or something.

The concept is kinda cool, but the price is pure SV tech startup garbage.
posted by emptythought at 1:53 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, at least note that it's not just a camera, it's also a (dedicated) phone and a cloud service.

That said, the promo video with the kids and the cats sounds like so much cliched Don Draper folderol. They're not going to advertise

"Sometimes ... we want to remember those special moments when you encounter members of the law enforcement community ... when you are arguing with your creepy landlord ... when you are risking life and limb every day in traffic. Memoto. For all the special moments that end up in court."
posted by dhartung at 4:06 AM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


The software at the back end is actually quite interesting-looking, although it's not clear how you pull them out of the cloud service, and the $279 only covers a year of that cloud service: clearly the value proposition is that the software will decide what are useless pictures (i.e. almost all of them) and deprioritize them.

(If $279 seems like a lot, I think this is actually aiming to undercut the Autographer, which will retail for about $500 before tax, at a guess, with the promise of not just taking a photo every 30 seconds but taking photos when its sensor array (motion, light etc) determines the conditions are right. Memoto is selling a cheaper front end (i.e. the hardware) with the promise of a back end that compensates for that simplicity.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:19 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't quite get whether this is supposed to be the beginnings of a Philip K. Dick-esque service which offloads the responsibility of forming and collecting memories from your brain, or just a lame software replacement for having a human publicist that automatically takes and curates the pictures on your wannabe celebrity blog.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:24 AM on June 24, 2013


Microsoft has been working on this for a while. I've been waiting to see what they're going to do with this, but they haven't made the MyLifeBits software public yet.

It's not just about pictures from a camera on your neck, it also keeps track of things you do on the computer as well.
posted by daHIFI at 5:21 AM on June 24, 2013


For many, wouldn't this just be a sad collection of screenshots? Computer all day, computer all night, maybe some TV in between?
posted by pracowity at 5:27 AM on June 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Our sophisticated facial recognition algorithms can identify a human face twisted in a rictus of despair, reflected in an HDTV screen turned off after fifteen minutes of an infomercial about exercise bikes that you didn't even really register had started after the last of the Numbers marathon you were also only vaguely paying attention to finished."

We delete that shit. We delete it to Mars."
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:34 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


My first thought was now I will have to carry a tack hammer everywhere for bashing in their tiny little lenses.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:04 AM on June 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


pracowity, maybe that's a feature-- if you look over your past week of timelapse snaps and just see work or TV, maybe you'll force a change to do something more rewarding.
posted by Static Vagabond at 7:10 AM on June 24, 2013


To the question of alibi, y'all seem to be thinking only in terms of the camera wearer. Think of the people the camera-wearer has seen: If john smith is accused of shooting someone at location A, and I have a picture of him canonically timestamped at the same time at location B, then I can offer him an alibi.

Which brings up the question of whether one has an obligation to provide that alibi -- or whether someone has the legal right to force it out of you.
posted by lodurr at 7:11 AM on June 24, 2013


You could hang one on your kittie's collar to see what a horrible monster she is at night.

Hanging it on your dog would only give you a steady stream of pictures of his balls.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:33 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why the fuck is this $279? It even looks like some brandless actioncam you'd buy on ebay "ships from china" for $7.22 or something.

Yep.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:39 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hanging it on your dog would only give you a steady stream of pictures of his balls.

Oh, great. Now all I can think of is Barry Zuckerkorn.
posted by lodurr at 7:44 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is anyone working on a discrete jamming device brooch for consumers? I'd buy one of those. Then every time a recordomaniac is near me, they'll just see a nice static-y image. Or, maybe even better, this.

Why is it that many people think a surveillance society is bad only if it's the government doing it?
posted by mondo dentro at 8:29 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is tied to a cloud service. If investors (Passion Capital, angels, etc.) are interested, they're interested in the value of the data, not the device.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 8:47 AM on June 24, 2013


Why is it that many people think a surveillance society is bad only if it's the government doing it?

I keep thinking this - What's worse than the NSA having my phone metadata? Verizon having it!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:56 AM on June 24, 2013


What's worse than the NSA having my phone metadata? Verizon having it!

Yeah... or at least as bad in some different, likely unanticipated way. In a sense, the NSA is the devil we know.

I'd much prefer a social contract that acknowledges our "data" as a major part of our identity, so that the right to control our data is covered by privacy rights. And these privacy rights cannot be trumped by property rights: no contract I click through gives someone the right to my person (and hence my data), any more than I could can contractually sell myself into slavery.
posted by mondo dentro at 9:17 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


My first thought was now I will have to carry a tack hammer everywhere for bashing in their tiny little lenses.

I was thinking more down the line of a hole punch with a 10mm jaw.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:23 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why is it that many people think a surveillance society is bad only if it's the government someone else doing it?

Answered that for you.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:25 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


What's worse than the NSA having my phone metadata? Verizon having it!

Yeah... or at least as bad in some different, likely unanticipated way. In a sense, the NSA is the devil we know.


I'll go one better, at least as a government agency, the NSA might actually do something in the public interest on purpose!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:43 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is anyone working on a discrete jamming device brooch for consumers? I'd buy one of those.

Me and an acquaintance were just discussing this. He's an EE-type guy who builds custom software controlled light setups for concerts since the off the shelf stuff is so insanely overpriced.

The idea would work a lot like this system. You have a fisheye lens with a camera which isn't, nor is it capable of recording. That's connected to something like an arduino or rasberry pi(or possibly even something simpler, still working on this part).

There's an IR LED grid all down the front of the thing. Some are direct, some have wide angle lenses over them. it pulses them every couple seconds(and i'd say, more infrequently if the unit itself isn't being physically moved around)

When it detects the unique kind of reflection a multicoated camera lens gives off(NOTE: this is apparently not hard, if you shine the right kind of light at them apparently they just light up white and "blown out" from reflecting so much of it), it just starts spamming the LEDs at say, 30hz. Why not constantly on? wastes too much power. It does this for a predetermined amount of time like 30 seconds and then goes back to scanning, but pulses more frequently for a minute or so in case the camera is still around.

The LEDs would be arranged in a convex grid along the front of the unit to cover as much ground as possible, and be the highest output models available. Power would be from a couple of high-mAH smartphone "extended" batteries. You'd probably have to charge it every night... but isn't that awesome?

Amusingly, we came up with this entire idea as something you mount on the back of your car to to blind those stupid automatic-ticket traffic cameras at the lights they switched to 0.5 second yellows. Of course, we'd never do that... because that's like, illegal and stuff.

The software at the back end is actually quite interesting-looking, although it's not clear how you pull them out of the cloud service, and the $279 only covers a year of that cloud service: clearly the value proposition is that the software will decide what are useless pictures (i.e. almost all of them) and deprioritize them.

I guess. I still feel like this is going to become some kind of free automatic sorting tool when you just want to dump all the photos from an event in to facebook, or part of the next vine-type app that takes off. I also feel like the fact that they only include a year and are charging this much means they blew a TON of cash on R&D and software engineering stuff and are trying to recoup it now in a dumbass way. This thing should be at most $99. They could charge $9 a year or so for the service with 6 months or 3 months or something free.

I just feel like this won't fly among anyone but trust fund kids and rich SF bay area(and to a lesser extent, seattle area) "hip" tech guys who have to have the latest fad thing just like the betabrand pants or something.

If $279 seems like a lot, I think this is actually aiming to undercut the Autographer, which will retail for about $500 before tax

That something is undercutting something else more overpriced isn't really a valid argument that it isn't still absurdly priced. In about 2000 the cheapest laptop you could buy was still over a grand. That was a ridiculous price, and it got absolutely smashed downwards over the next couple years even. I remember when the cheapest kodak or whatever digital camera cost this much. This is 2013, this shit is ridiculous. Even $500 "artisanal denim" jeans have an easier to make value argument than this. It's almost the cheapest possible camera with a gps module. This is like beats headphones for hipsters.

Well, at least note that it's not just a camera, it's also a (dedicated) phone

Nope, check the specs page(i hate that i can't direct link that tab). It's a camera with GPS and a position sensor, you have to connect it to a PC/mac to upload. As i said, this is basically one of the cheapest action cams tucked in to a cute case with a massive price tag slapped on.

Someone is going to eat the hell out of their lunch here. It's not like i know who, but there's a fairly interesting idea here that's just being killed by the awful pricing. And from what i've seen that's pretty much always a sign that someone else is going to do it cheaper. Not necessarily better, or even as good, but good enough and cheaper.

I also think it's worth noting that i am the target market for this thing. 20something tech nerd dude who goes out and does lots of stuff and often wishes i had photos of it all that i didn't have to think about taking. I just can't abide by this ridiculous price.
posted by emptythought at 1:16 PM on June 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


ah, yes, i was thinking the jamming solution would have to involve IR LEDs somehow, but thankfully someone actually knew something about how that shit works. Thank you.
posted by lodurr at 1:22 PM on June 24, 2013


That something is undercutting something else more overpriced isn't really a valid argument that it isn't still absurdly priced.

Sure - and, honestly, my first thought in this instance was "why isn't this launching as an app"? The kind of person who is prepared to wear a lapel-mounted camera could probably be sold a phone holster. You have the GPS, camera and data connection already there, so your only real issue is battery life. Stick a juice pack into the holster, charge for the back-end software.

(One argument against would be security, but if I see someone walking down the street wearing a $279 camera, I am going to assume they have a really good phone and probably also a tablet on their person.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:01 PM on June 24, 2013


The kind of person who is prepared to wear a lapel-mounted camera could probably be sold a phone holster.

That sort of thing is already out there. With the juice pack it goes from annoying to downright unwieldy.

The whole Memoto device is 1.5 inches square and 1/3 of an inch thick (about the size of two stacked saltine crackers). The service is expensive but given that it will be a matter of minutes before someone provides a hack that will let you upload the photos directly to your own computer I'm sure that will sort itself out.

I admit I couldn't imagine using the device until someone mentioned hiking upthread. It would actually be really cool to replay a lengthy trek. As a bonus my relatives would get a good look at the bear that ate me.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:00 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Black bear box.
posted by pracowity at 7:57 AM on June 25, 2013


This just makes me want it to have a 3G modem even more, though. It could then act first as a boutique, cloud-connected camera (and it's a much better alibi providing/police monitoring camera if it uploads constantly, making it harder to falsify or confiscate the images), and then as a tracking tag to provide information on the movements of any number of wild animals/taxi cabs/petty thieves.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:20 AM on June 25, 2013


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