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Let's go to the audiotape
July 24, 2013 10:40 AM   Subscribe

Heard: a free iOS app that could solve a lot of arguments, and probably end a lot of marriages. It continuously records audio into a 12-second buffer (extend it to 5 minutes for $1.99), letting you save what you just, um, heard. Part Orwellian, part Chappellian (NSFW).
posted by gottabefunky (54 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hell no.
posted by 256 at 10:41 AM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm trying to think of a friendship or marriage you'd want to save that this would be a handy tool for.
posted by DU at 10:44 AM on July 24, 2013 [12 favorites]


I can't think of many situations where I'd look MORE favorably at someone who pulled out their smartphone and said AHA! Most likely I'd tell them to STFU and get the hell away from me you JR spook.
posted by edgeways at 10:45 AM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm trying to think of a friendship or marriage you'd want to save that this would be a handy tool for.

Don't you mean "a friendship or marriage you'd want to destroy"?
posted by yoink at 10:46 AM on July 24, 2013


Once I referred to a text message to counter my wife's assertion that I failed to tell her something. Once.
posted by brain_drain at 10:48 AM on July 24, 2013 [18 favorites]


Also recalls an episode of Black Mirror.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:49 AM on July 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wasn't there an episode of Black Mirror about exactly this? Spoiler: it didn't end well.

On preview, it appears we're all in this dystopia together.
posted by bwerdmuller at 10:50 AM on July 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


I could see this being handy as a journalist during informal interviews. It reminds me of something I heard a famous writer (Scott Turow? Can't remember) say about doing interviews: he'd only pull out his notebook and write something when the interviewee said something really interesting, then put it away again. After that, he said, "[he/she] would spend the rest of the time trying to get me to take out my notebook again!"
posted by gottabefunky at 10:52 AM on July 24, 2013 [14 favorites]


Actually Ted, you've done this to me before, so I took the liberty of taping the conversation...
posted by TwoWordReview at 10:52 AM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


As an absent-minded (cough) musician (cough) of sorts, this sort of thing is more or less the piece of kit I've been dreaming about for years. It almost hurts to think of the places my fingers have gone that I forgot about five seconds later.
posted by blue t-shirt at 10:55 AM on July 24, 2013 [10 favorites]


Oh, there are plenty of people on Askme who could use this, i.e., those who are dealing with emotionally abusive and manipulative spouses...
posted by Melismata at 10:55 AM on July 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have a friend who keeps threatening to write a book about marriage called "That's not what I said."
posted by shothotbot at 10:57 AM on July 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


Yeah, Melismata. My spouse has given up on telling me she "didn't say" this or "did say" that. Now when I remind her of what she said, she tells me what she was "thinking." This app would not address that. Yet.
posted by Infinity_8 at 10:58 AM on July 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


"To save our marriage, we must destroy it. Now let's sit down and listen to this footage I just recorded."
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:00 AM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Someone is bound to counter this with an iPhone app that turns the phone into a stun gun.
posted by orme at 11:01 AM on July 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


How about an app that records a 12 second buffer for the phone conversation and you can dump out like they do on radio when someone curses? That might actually help relationships.
posted by cmfletcher at 11:06 AM on July 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Some researchers at Georgia Tech looked into this idea back in 2004, which they called a Personal Audio Loop. Microsoft's SenseCam pushes the idea in a different direction, with a wearable device that records pictures and other sensor data of your daily activities (designed to be used primarily by people with memory impairments). Perhaps the oldest form of the idea of capturing everyday life experiences would be Vannevar Bush's notion of a wearable camera, in his famous article As We May Think:
As the scientist of the future moves about the laboratory or the field, every time he looks at something worthy of the record, he trips the shutter and in it goes, without even an audible click. Is this all fantastic? The only fantastic thing about it is the idea of making as many pictures as would result from its use.
There are a host of issues involved with these kinds of recording systems, though. I'm sure battery life is abysmal if you're running the software the whole time. There are also a large set of privacy issues. The first link above discusses some of these privacy issues, using the European Union's privacy directive as a guide. I think the researchers also found that it was not legal to record audio in many settings as well (which varies state by state in the US).
posted by jasonhong at 11:06 AM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Timely, in light of the woman in the recent covert video who just wanted to go to the lake.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 11:07 AM on July 24, 2013


I can think of a lot of non-insidious uses for this. I often talk through papers I'm writing; it'd be handy to be able to go back and replay my verbalized thoughts. And it could be a way to refocus important conversations where two of you get sidetracked and then say, "Wait, where were we? What were we talking about?" The problem is that this only has an advantage over regular recording software if you always leave it running, and I bet that chews through your battery.
posted by painquale at 11:09 AM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


So true painquale, especially when merely breathing on some phones chews through your battery.
posted by Melismata at 11:12 AM on July 24, 2013


I can think of a lot of non-insidious uses for this.

The best one I am thinking of is:
"Can I have your phone number [or other random piece of data]?"
"Sure, got a pen?"
"It's OK, just say it."
posted by Rock Steady at 11:14 AM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


A lot of good examples here of PLANNED recordings (i.e. "I'm going to play an instrument/write a paper and recording would work well").
posted by DU at 11:18 AM on July 24, 2013


@shothotbot: Where do I pre-order?
posted by Djinh at 11:20 AM on July 24, 2013


This app is clearly designed for some fictional dystopia where people are allowed to remove their Google Glass.
posted by antonymous at 11:22 AM on July 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


That's why my wife and I started using the phrase "Oh, it sounded to me like you said _____". No fault's placed, and if your the kind of person who will argue with what somebody claims to have heard, well then you'll find something to argue about anyway. Of course, that's exactly who this seems to be aimed at.
posted by Gygesringtone at 11:23 AM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Now that I think about it though, I know some people with memory issues that might genuinely benefit from having this as part of their routine. Not for proving themselves right or wrong, but to have a record of conversations they could refer too later to write dates and names and whatever down at a more convenient less intrusive time.
posted by Gygesringtone at 11:28 AM on July 24, 2013


I love the idea. I sometimes get all kinds of het up about something and will ramble about if for at least 5 minutes. Then later, all I remember is the general idea, but not the specifics of what I said and the clear logic paths that I had outlined in the random stream of thought that sometimes overtakes my attention. I would love to be able to record these things and have them for later to listen to again after some period of time and re-evaluate whether what I was thinking at the time still makes any sense, or if I was just drunk.

My roommate has threatened to wire up our apartment with constant recording to capture some of the funny/interesting/profound things that we come up with but never bother to write down or capture otherwise.

This might just fill that gap.
posted by daq at 11:30 AM on July 24, 2013


This is an app with a 5-minute buffer. As DU said, there are lots of apps that allow you to record already.

The unique thing about this is it is always-on. So it is not meant to purposefully record things. That can already be done. It is meant to record accidents and unplanned things.
posted by vacapinta at 11:30 AM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Based on the reaction here, I should write an app that just continuously says, "You're right, honey. Whatever you say, sweetie."
posted by fungible at 11:32 AM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


A lot of good examples here of PLANNED recordings (i.e. "I'm going to play an instrument/write a paper and recording would work well").

Those aren't good examples of planned recordings. I don't start talking aloud about my papers during planned, set intervals. Inspiration doesn't work like that. I just do it when I find myself lost in thought, I've been working through a problem during a long writing session, or when an idea strikes me. I bet the same is true for a musician. You might noodle around for hours, and when you come across something interesting, you are surprised: you didn't think you were in the middle of an important session worth recording. Inspiration happens at unpredictable moments, which is why a device like this would be useful.
posted by painquale at 11:39 AM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Precedence is NOT your friend.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:41 AM on July 24, 2013


Twenty years from now, when constant audio/video recording is ubiquitous, we're going to look back on our quaint discussions about the repercussions and shake our heads.
posted by gottabefunky at 11:47 AM on July 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Nuts, I thought of this more than 20 years ago, called it "post-recording", wrote a proposal, talked to a couple of hardware guys - and decided that RAM and batteries were too expensive and big for it to be cheap, always on, and the size of a pen, so I dropped the idea.
posted by nicwolff at 11:52 AM on July 24, 2013


My wife and I communicate mostly via email, gchat and Google Calendar invitations so this really wouldn't change much.
posted by octothorpe at 11:57 AM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


perhaps we need something that pre-buffers everything we say, so that we we can edit our stupid things before they leave our mouth/fingers.
posted by edgeways at 11:59 AM on July 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Twenty years from now, when constant audio/video recording is ubiquitous, we're going to look back on our quaint discussions about the repercussions and shake our heads.

Anything common is automatically good. The concerns of people of the past are always ridiculous.
posted by DU at 12:08 PM on July 24, 2013


Twenty years from now, when constant audio/video recording is ubiquitous, we're going to look back on our quaint discussions about the repercussions and wonder, "Surely there was something we could have done to stop this?"
posted by straight at 12:32 PM on July 24, 2013


Twenty years from now, when constant audio/video recording is ubiquitous, looking back on the past with fondness will be doubleplusungood.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:33 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd rather have the one that plays the next twelve seconds.
posted by michaelh at 12:38 PM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Let me save everyone the expense, time and worry. Absolutely no technology required.

Repeat after me this simple phrase.

"Yes dear, you were right."

It does double duty - when your beloved was right, and when under extreme conditions there may be some remote possibility that another interpretation might perhaps be reached by the mythical objective observer. Result: happiness both times.

(If not sufficient, then employ the double-strength version: "Yes dear, I was wrong". It takes some training to say out loud, but try it in the privacy of your own water closet or mountain-top before deploying fo' real.)
posted by Devonian at 12:50 PM on July 24, 2013


jasonhong: "with a wearable device that records pictures and other sensor data of your daily activities (designed to be used primarily by people with memory impairments)"

If I had a memory impairment, and had this device, my entire day would be me looking at recordings... of me looking at recordings...
posted by danny the boy at 1:30 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Activate the Omega 13!... er, 12.
posted by weston at 2:05 PM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Geez having a smartphone sounds exhausting.

/joke about sounding like an insufferable hipster

/but actually not caring
posted by threeants at 2:34 PM on July 24, 2013


Twenty years from now, when constant audio/video recording is ubiquitous, we're going to look back on our quaint discussions in HD!
posted by darksasami at 2:34 PM on July 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


My boss at work has this, and uses it as a Shazam stand in to record songs he hears while driving. For some reason, it's easier for him to use Heard.
posted by reenum at 3:08 PM on July 24, 2013


I simultaneously would love this and yet recognize it as a horrible horrible way to die at the hands of the person I'm trying to show up.
posted by drewbage1847 at 3:21 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Isn't this what Google Glass is for?
posted by sourwookie at 3:53 PM on July 24, 2013


As a musician, I'm waiting for an app like this that's able to recognise which tune you are practising to sort the recordings and do stats automatically.

This makes me think an always-on voice recorder which lets you tag voices wouldn't be impossible to make. That could generate all sorts of stats like time spent talking VS listening. Who you talk to the most. It'll be like facebook. What could go wrong.
posted by yoHighness at 4:52 PM on July 24, 2013


"Only a fool wins an argument with his wife".
posted by Sebmojo at 5:46 PM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Isn't it illegal (at least in CA) to record somebody without their consent. Do you have a little lapel badge that says "you are being Recorded, is that OK?", or maybe you just hand people a card informing them informing so that they can sign it to show they agreed. Seems like a minefield to me.
posted by Long Way To Go at 9:01 PM on July 24, 2013


This is very similar, conceptually, to the Looxcie wearable camcorder, which has a button you can press to save the last 30 seconds of shot video to your phone.
posted by curious.jp at 11:06 PM on July 24, 2013


Twenty years from now, we'll look back on events like this with cold objectivity, basing our conclusions on the 12-second audio clips we wisely hoarded against the possibility of uncertainty or nostalgia. And when I say "we", I mean the robots that we will hire from KOCHINGTON TRANSGLOBAL to live the tedious non-porn parts of our lives for us.
posted by No-sword at 4:42 AM on July 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


The robots may mistake the setting for the 1950s, due to all the irrational-wife jokes.
posted by No-sword at 4:45 AM on July 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Isn't it illegal (at least in CA) to record somebody without their consent.

Yeah, this is a real thing. If you're going to use something like this, check the laws in your state.

In Massachusetts, secretly recording audio will subject you to criminal prosecution (if the police have some reason to care), and to a civil lawsuit (if the person you recorded has some reason to be mad at you). This actually happens, even in relatively trivial circumstances; I saw someone get in a legal dispute for recording a few minutes of conversation at a party on their smartphone. There are punitive damages and attorneys fees available if you win, so there's an unusually low barrier to filing a lawsuit.

Just to emphasize how seriously they take this, check out this 1976 case, where a recording of a kidnapper making a ransom demand was admitted at trial only because the kidnapper said during the call that he assumed he was being recorded. You don't get much more respectful of privacy than that.
posted by jhc at 7:17 AM on July 25, 2013


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