This week in lifelogging: the miserable, the lovers and the haters

The “miserable” days of lifelogging

Lifelogging is going mainstream. To those in doubt, you’re not alone. This week, we found a writer at Mashable, Max Knoblauch, who spent the past 30 days quantifying his life because he simply did not believe in the quantified self movement. After consulting a lifelogging guru, Nicholas Felton, who publishes his quantified data in beautiful graphics every year, Max started logging everything from the existential “Are you looking forward to today?” to the trivial, “What do you smell”. However, this to him was certainly not enjoyable because he felt that manual data input is a hindrance to the daily activity it’s supposed to be tracking. He had to intentionally interrupt his activities in order to key those self-tracking data into his mobile phone. Every 90 minutes for every single day. In other words, it was a total hassle. And he was miserable. However, as you might have already guessed, Max started seeing value in the things that he tracked. When he first saw how the data was visualized on his phone, he felt that his mediocrity is truly a sight to behold. This, as he concluded, is the real value of data tracking — revealing small, random yet somehow surprising bits of information that the tracker really wasn’t aware of. It’s all in retrospect. And like Steven Beatty rightly recognizes, it is addictive.

Read more: Lifelogging: The Most Miserable, Self-Aware 30 Days I’ve Ever Spent and Why am I so Intrigued with the Idea of Quantified Self?

Image credited to Mashable

Love and lifelogging

And if the love for self-tracking data is not going to move you to start quantifying your life, maybe this would. Here’s how Tom Fletcher, one of the lead vocalists and guitarists of English pop rock band McFly won the hearts of so many people simply by combining songwriting and lifelogging. As it is written here, “when he’s not busy writing amazing pop songs, Tom Fletcher spends his time making the male population look like talentless schmucks with his genius videos.” His latest creation? A video showing how he sang to his wife Giovanna’s growing belly throughout her pregnancy. Titled “From Bump to Buzz”, Tom documented every day out of the nine months of pregnancy and compiled the photos into a time-lapse video. Amazing. He’s definitely raising the bar for all the men out there with this, and the earlier video of his wedding speech!

Read more: 8 reasons why Tom Fletcher is probably the most talented man in the entire world – video special and How wearable tech can make dating more enjoyable

Happiness and the quantified self

And for all of us who do not have the privilege of having someone like Tom to track the growth of our happiness everyday, here are some apps that could facilitate the process. Known as Happify and Happsee, these mobile apps have been scientifically designed to quantify happiness. According to Happify, “You have the ability to control how you feel—and with consistent practice, you can form life-long habits for a more satisfying and fulfilling life.” So with that, the app recommends daily activities that deliver the best results for you based on your goals. Others, like H(app)athon, also believe that identifying how our actions affect our well-being allows us to track what behaviors increase our happiness. In other words – if you want your life to count, you need to take a count of your life. And it also means that happiness is a choice. Do you agree?

Read more: Quantifying Happiness: Tracking Well-Being in the Age of Quantified Self

Image credited to The Ultimate Happiness

The Glass view of Glass reactions

Like any new phenomenon that try to enter the mainstream market, the rise of lifelogging and the quantified self is not all that smooth. Just a few weeks back, Mashable sent one man to the streets of New York to take a look at how people react to the Google Glass, a device in which many would indicate as a lifelogging device. As he took it to the streets, many uninvited stares darted towards him. In addition, when asked if people thought it looked cool or creepy, two sides were quickly taken. And when revealed to cost approximately $1500, all of them unanimously said that they would not pay for the Google Glass. Yet, as mentioned here, wearable technologies have the potential to enable police officers to improve situational awareness and decision making in the field. Speculations have even been made that wearable technologies could be used in the field of politics. Where do you think wearable technology would head?

Read more: Google launches Android Wear platform for wearables, smartwatch Developer Preview, devices coming later this year and Wearables won’t just record our lives, they’ll change them

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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

 

This week in lifelogging: visual lifelogging, perfect imperfections and moments not photos

Visual lifelogging and its effects

In the past week, the annual SXSW in Austin, Texas, has got many people talking about the future of music, film and the interactive. One of the many talks that stood out in the area of lifelogging is by , Director of Digital Strategy. In his slides that you see above, you would find David exploring the notion of how an ‘unexamined (visual) life is not worth living’. He also contrasts the culture of visual lifelogging with the rituals of analogue photography to gain a better understanding of how we are changing the way we preserve and narrate memories and share experiences across the social graph. In particular, he makes an interesting point that traditional analogue photographs are subjective while visual lifelogging is an objective representation of one’s life. In fact, according to his study, which found differences between one’s memory and the camera’s memory, actively taking photos can impair one’s ability to remember. On the other hand, visual lifelogging could stand in the gap between the quantified, qualified, art and science, to help us reach higher goals, make better decisions, create meaning and find insights. However, the digital archives from the visual lifelogging process can only achieve the above if, for instance, a search engine for the self arises. This same sentiment was presented in a BBC interview with Cathal Gurrin, who is already working on a search engine for the self, which indexes information about you for you. 

Depth and context

These days, visual lifelogging is all about creating context out of the thousands of photographs taken every day. In the picture you see above, artist Christopher Dydyk portrays carefully layered photographs that capture bustling scenes around the California city. Although he is best known around the world as the co-author of the best selling photo book, Shyboy: The Horse That Came In From The Wild, Dydyk is also an editorial photographer who specializes in event, architectural and people photography. This series you see above, titled “San Francisco Impressions”, is birthed out of a unique editing process that gives his photographs their rich and ghostly qualities. And in an interview with Mashable, Dydyk reveals that although he believes traditional photography is beautiful, it “lacks the multidimensionality to fully express the sensations of energy and joy”. To achieve the sort of pictures you see above, Dydyk snaps city scenes from all possible angles before digitally layering his images into one single photograph. Simply beautiful! What would you do to create more depth and context out of the visual lifelogs that you have?

Read more: Digitally-Layered Photos Paint a Rich Picture of San Francisco and Narrowly Selective Transparency: Susan Sontag on Photography vs. the Other Arts

Image credited to Christopher Dydyk

Have a little fun with imperfections!

While photographs could be post-processed to present a more ideal and beautiful state, we all know how life can be tainted with slight imperfections. Yet, these imperfections can turn out really beautiful if you simply change your perspective and outlook. This picture you see above, is exactly how photographers Davide Luciano and Claudia Ficca have decided to deal with life. According to their website, “Potholes is a series of photographs depicting the concave street cracks and holes as a collection of imaginative tableaux in the city. Captured within the backdrops of New York City,  Los Angeles, Toronto and Montreal, the sets explore the urban flaws as a playground creating a multitude of uses out of the potholes.” And while some may argue that Photoshop is a dirty word, here is a case in point that really uses Photoshop creatively and purposefully. Be it as a fisherman’s paradise, depicting the Hollywood Walk of Fame or stepping on grapes to make wine, there is definitely something beautiful that Davide and Claudia have managed to portray out of the otherwise annoying potholes.

Read more: Photographers Find Creative Ways to Deal With Irritating Potholes and All the world’s a stage: Stunning photography project shows ballet dancers anywhere BUT on stage

Image credited to Davide Luciano and Claudia Ficca

A memory of moments, not photos

And perhaps one perfect summary of this week’s blog post is how all of the above are clear examples of moments, not mere pictures. This distinction has been pointed out clearly by Robert Laing, CEO and a co-founder of Gengo, who made a PechaKucha video summary of how the Narrative Clip experience has been for him. For him, posed photos of him are not a part of his memory at all. These are always about the outside looking in. Yet, he always wanted to see how it was with the inside looking out, including all the in-betweens of intentionally-posed moments. Enough said, watch his video now! Don’t miss out (;

Image credited to Robert Laing

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This week in lifelogging: creative campaigns, quantified breakup and Sony SmartBand

Creative activities for your lifelogs

minnie

One of the indirect benefits of engaging in heavy lifelogging is the new need and want to do creative things. Who doesn’t like to review a colorful life in retrospect? While you can spend money to take your entire family on a fancy vacation to create wonderful memories that you can journal about, you could also try doing some interesting activities at home. Here’s how Angie Keiser and her fashion-forward 4-year-old daughter, Mayhem (above), has done it: gather a few pieces of construction paper, scissors and tape, and you’re all ready to go! With an exception of the more complicated gowns, which can take up to four hours, Keiser and her little daughter work together for an average of 5-10 minutes to make dresses like this one inspired by Minnie Mouse. With this eye for fashion, this mother-daughter duo create many outfits inspired by real-life or cartoon characters, and then this little 4-year-old immediately transforms into a runway model to exhibit the masterpieces she made with her mother. Want to see more interesting outfits? Check out their blog dedicated to Mayhem’s wildly creative gowns, called #FashionByMayhem.

Read more: 4-Year-Old Fashionista Creates Fancy Frocks Out of Paper and 44 Beautiful Candid Moments Captured in Photographs

Image credited to #FashionByMayhem

Creating anti-war messages

One of the many popular projects that have been birthed out of the desire to create lifelogs is “A second a day”, made even easier by an app called One Second Everyday. One particular UK organization, Save The Children, has created an extremely thought-provoking video using this concept of “A second a day”. With a powerful tagline, “Just because it isn’t happening here, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening”, Save The Children aims to raise awareness about the situation in Syria, specifically focusing on how children are affected by the civil war. Their vision? “We save children’s lives. We fight for their rights. We help them fulfill their potential.” So if you share the same vision and would like to show your support to highlight the desperate need for peace in Syria, you could join their campaign, “Faces for Syria”, by uploading your image here. With that, on the eve of the 3rd anniversary of the conflict in Syria – 14 March – your picture will join thousands of others to form part of an iconic image of support that will reach millions of people around the world, mainly through Facebook and Twitter, to show every Syrian child, woman and man that we are with them, that we are #withSyria.

Read more: Shocking ‘Second a Day’ Video Delivers a Powerful Anti-War Message and Crimea: where war photography was born

Measuring breakups

And if you’re less of a photography/videography person, you might be interested in the quantifying portion of lifelogging. Known as the quantified self movement, enthusiasts would measure everything from their heart rate over the day, their sleeping habits and behavior, and even their babies’ vital signs. But just this week, we discovered one particular Quantified Self enthusiast, who had begun tracking and quantifying her behaviors after her breakup. Things measured include the things bought after the breakup sorted according to price, usefulness and category, the number of posts on her Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as the number of times she listened to her songs sorted according to whether they were happy or sad songs. According to her, “Putting this process into numbers, images and data visualizations has been very helpful. It yanked me out of moments of all-consuming sadness at the beginning and now helps me understand that I’m doing ok, despite of how confused I might feel (looking for positive trends within the data!) I hope these web things can help you, too.”

Read more: Quantified Breakup and How lifelogging transforms us all

Image credited to the Quantified Breakup blog

Sony Smartband for lifelogging

If you haven’t got all that patience to manually record all that data of breakups or get-togethers, you would probably love to get your hands on some self-tracking device. Apart from the popular FitBit and Nike FuelBand, here’s one that Sony is going to release this month in March 2014, after showing a sneak preview at both CES and the Mobile World Congress that just past. Functions of this Sony SmartBand include creating a log of your activities, such as the places you’ve been to, music you’ve listened, games you’ve played, sleep cycles and so forth, while notifying you of incoming calls, messages and tweets by vibrating. This all-in-one SmartBand can also be used to play, pause and skip track in your walkman app by pressing a button or tapping the band. Multiple functions packed in this tiny wearable gadget by Sony. Rumor has it that these will be retailing at about 99 Euros ($135, £80). In this video review, it is also said that the Sony SmartBand helps you learn from your experiences. With such a comprehensive list of things that you could track, you could even investigate the reasons behind why your timing for the run was particularly good last week, owing all credit to, for instance, the music you’re listening to. Will you get one?

Read more: Sony’s SmartBand Lets You Create a Detailed Log of Your Life and Sony’s SmartBand fitness tracker will launch worldwide in March

Image credited to Mashable

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This week in lifelogging: Winter Olympics, decision-making memories and selfies pride

QS athletes at 2014 Winter Olympics

Since the opening of the 2014 Winter Olympics last week in Sochi, Russia, much has been going on, including what seems to be the fiercest rivalry between the US and Canadian hockey women, as well as Jason Brown sensationally figure skating to Prince’s “The Question of U”. And even with such a long-standing tradition and culture behind the Olympic Games, many athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics have already found ways to integrate the latest Quantified Self gadgets into their daily routines. One of them is Steven Nyman, an alpine skier, who couples his endless trainings with the data-driven practices of Troy Flanagan, director of high performance for the US ski team. Self-tracking for Nyman includes measuring his blood glucose, creatine kinase and urea every morning at 5:30am. But of course, on the flip side of this are athletes like Keri Herman and Tom Wallisch, both of whom are Slopestyle Skiers, who do not believe in self-tracking techniques or use wearable tech gadgets of any sort. For instance, to Tom, although Oakley’s new Airwave Smart Goggles, used by skiers to tell where they are on the mountain, altitude, etc. is pretty cool, it only serves as a distraction for him while competing in his events. Which side do you lean on for the Quantified Self movement?

Read more: At this year’s Olympics, the gold medal goes to the quantified self and Winter Olympics Photo of the Day: Skiing in the Sun

Image credited to Lucas Jackson | Reuters

Memories and decisions

Whether it is watching the Winter Olympics on television with your family or actually competing in the Games with thousands of supporters cheering you on, memories are being continuously created for every passing moment without you even noticing it. And if you think you’re having a memory problem just because what you and others recall about a particular incident over the last Winter Olympics is completely different, rest assured, you’re not always wrong. According to latest studies, the human brain edits memories relentlessly, updating the past with new information. And why do our brains do this? Scientists believe that the brain updates memories to make them more relevant and useful now — even if they’re not a true representation of the past. So even if you’re logging your life daily, we will have a tendency to modify these lifelogs to make sense of them ten or twenty years down the road. The good news? These lifelogs will be able to jolt our memories, and our brains could help us sort them automatically so that they’re the most relevant in the present. Better decision-making for the lifelogging individual, maybe?

Read more: Our Brains Rewrite Our Memories, Putting Present In The Past and Lifelogging: What it’s like to record your whole life

Image credited to NPR and iStockphoto

Be proud of your selfies

Speaking of recording our memories, a new trend has been taking the Instagram world by storm. In fact, there are more than 75 million photographs on Instagram marked with this popular hashtag. Yes, you got it – snap it, upload it and finally #selfie. And even after the word “selfie” has been officially incorporated into the Oxford Dictionary, much hatred or mocking have been directed at users who flood their Instagram accounts with nothing but their self-portraits. Yet, earlier, we also talked about how Dove’s selfies project actually revealed the insecurities that these girls possessed, and subsequently got them to see how beautiful they really are. So are #selfies really that detestable? In this article, the author justifies the case for selfies. According to her, there’s no need to be sorry for your selfie because it has been around for a long time. And for the very fact that we can #selfie every day or waking moment of our lives, is indicative of progress, since the selfie barrier to entry is no longer restricted by wealth, time and privilege like it was with the French monarch of the past. #Sorrynotsorry for my #selfie anymore (;

Read more: Why You Should Never Be Sorry for Your Selfie

Image credited to NASA

Be proud of your Narrative Clip selfies

Now case in point. If you have a Narrative Clip and you’re wondering what to do next besides just clipping it to the collar of your shirt, well how about this? How about giving the Narrative Clip #selfie a shot? Letting her creative juices flow, author Bianca Bosker at Huffington Post has experimented various ways to use the Narrative Clip – clipped to her clothes, strapped on her purse, fastened to a dog and propped up on her desk, where it takes numerous selfies of her. And with these selfies, she noticed some bad habits of hers replaying over and over – the nibbling, the lip-biting, the squinting, and of course, the snacking. Yet, we’re stoked to hear how her experience has been. In her words, “The Narrative Clip didn’t just let me “relive life’s special and everyday moments,” as the ad copy on the camera’s sleek box had promised. When I scrolled through the thousands of photos it captured, I had the feeling of discovering entirely new dimensions to an experience I thought I knew. It both jogged my memory and fiddled with it.” Thank you and we can’t wait to hear from more of you!

Read more: Nice To Meet You. I’ve Already Taken Your Picture

Image credited to Huffington Post

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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.

 

This week in lifelogging: fitness redefined, Fin at your fingertips and little Batman’s perspective

Redefining fitness in 2014

Have you lost all that extra weight gained over the festive (feasting) season of Christmas, New Year and even the Lunar New Year that began last week? Fret not if you haven’t! With the trend of lifelogging and the quantified self gaining popularity, our digitally connected devices can begin to keep us accountable to the fitness resolutions we set just one month ago. As Forbes rightly points out, staying on this digital fitness track has been made possible because fitness tracking is going mainstream. Not only are devices such as the FitBit, Jawbone UP or Nike+ Fuelband readily available in the market, complementary products and services are helping us to make even better sense of the data collected. In addition, many of such fitness apps do instill healthy competition amongst our peers or family when there is a fitness leader board of some sort. Who doesn’t like to feed that little competitive soul we all have?

Read more: Four Digital Trends Redefining Fitness in 2014

All at your fingertips

After working out and defeating all your loved ones to take first place in your fitness tracking apps, perhaps the one and only thing you’d like to do is lay in your couch, and well… do absolutely nothing. Good news! Fin lets you do just that. As a wearable transmitter that turns your palm into a touch interface, Fin enables users to control up to three devices such as smartphones, car radios and smart TVs using only swipes and taps. Just put on this ring-shaped device on your thumb, and you’re ready to lay in your couch to command your different devices using Bluetooth. The best part of Fin? Its amazing battery life that can last up to one month per charge. As use cases, the Fin team foresees Fin to be helpful for the visually challenged, for gamers since it could serve as a controller, and for fitness junkies who still want to access their phones on the go. With only 16 days left in their Indiegogo campaign, support them now if you’d like to see Fin become a reality!

Read more: Wearable Transmitter Turns Your Palm Into a Touch Interface and Is Wearable Tech Ready for the Red Carpet?

2014 Sony world photography shortlist

And if you’re more of a photographer than a fitness tracker when it comes to lifelogging, then perhaps you’d love to take a look at the shortlisted entries for the 2014 Sony World Photograph Awards. Selecting from 139,544 images from 166 countries, the judges found within the submissions many stories that force the viewer to find something surprising within the everyday life. From wildlife to architecture, or emotionally charged photographs to everyday rituals, one can only walk away in pure adoration for the skills of these photographers who managed to capture such beautiful moments. As part of the 2014 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition, all shortlisted images will be presented at Somerset House, London, from 1-18 May. Interested? Click here to purchase your tickets today!

Read more: The 2014 Sony World Photography Awards and 2014 Sony World Photography Awards Shortlist Announced

Tiny Batman takes on the world

It’s all about perspective. Perhaps to you, Batman is all ready to take on the world. All ready to charge into that house on Napoleon Street to save a damsel in distress. Or perhaps he’s returning home. Returning to that place of familiarity. Well, not quite so. The Batman we see above stands at merely 11 inches, and probably can’t save any damsel in distress in time with the tiniest steps he takes, nor reach for the door to enter this house. This series of photographs featuring a tiny Batman traveling all over the American Southwest, is part of Rémi Noël’s work, aimed at depicting a more isolated side of the Dark Knight. Now who says Batman has to be that big and bulky superhero? Take a slightly different perspective and you too can capture some amazing photographs depicting a totally opposite side of some of your favorite characters or people!

Read more: Tiny Batman Takes a Whimsical Trip Through the American Southwest and Tumblr Art Project Gives Everyday People Monster Twins

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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!

 

This week in lifelogging: QS Conference 2014, Samsung Life Times app and Jimmy Nelson photography

Quantified Self Europe Conference 2014

Every year, a group of Quantified Self enthusiasts would gather together to share the latest insights into this global movement. This year is no different and the QS Europe conference will be held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands from 10-11 May. This conference will be hands-on and interactive, with user-defined workshops on mood, data visualization, sleep, ethics, and many other topics. Some of the most interesting speakers from the QS Meetups all around the world will also be sharing the technological products that they use and about the culture of self-tracking. So be sure to register soon or head down to one of the Meetups closest to you for a taste of the Quantified Self!

Read more: Welcome to the 2014 Quantified Self Europe Conference!

Image credited to Quantified Self

Samsung’s rumored lifelogging app

Rumor has it that Samsung is working on a new lifelogging tool. Screenshots of the app, which first appeared on SamMobile, show an app that is named Samsung Life Times. It appears to be a real-time diary that catalogs information pulled from various apps to create a personalized feed of your daily activities. Most apps can be incorporated into Samsung Life Times, including Samsung’s camera, email, memo, SMS, phone, music, and health apps, as well as to social accounts such as Facebook, Google+, Instagram. And these apps are of course incorporated by choice so you can customize exactly how you want your life’s episodes to play out. Although how this app is going to be integrated into the Samsung devices is still unclear, this lifelogging phenomenon is surely taking the tech giants’ world by storm as other major players like Sony are also developing their own lifelogging tools. We’re excited!

Read more: Leaked Photos Reveal New Samsung Lifelogging App and 5 apps to create your own mobile diary

Image credited to Mashable

Before they pass away

And if you prefer lifelogging an entire tribe of people instead of keeping your personal mobile diary, meet Jimmy Nelson (photo above), a professional photographer who has decided to embark on a journey to photograph 35 of the world’s last cultures as art and icons. His starting point? His doctor giving him some wrong medicine that caused him to lose all his hair overnight. He looked drastically different. He was the same person. But people started treating him differently. With that, he decided to leave his country to go where people are bald like him – Tibet. And along the way, he started discovering who he truly is and what he truly wanted – to photograph these tribes before they pass away. A true example of lifelogging and archiving the world’s precious cultures. His advice to us urban people? Look closer and be less quick to judge. Check out more of his amazing works here in a bid to preserve our world’s authenticity!

Watch video: Before they pass away: Jimmy Nelson at TEDxAmsterdam

Image credited to Jimmy Nelson

Happy Lunar New Year!

And to all our lovely Chinese backers and everyone else who is feasting on some Chinese New Year goodies over this weekend, here’s the Narrative team wishing you a very Happy Lunar New Year and a fantastic year ahead!

Image credited to Photo Elsoar

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This week in lifelogging: more than that, tracking with OptimizeMe and Google’s most photographed cities

More than just self-tracking

When we think about lifelogging, phrases such as the quantified self or wearable tech often surface in our minds. However, just like Mike Gotta at Gartner cleverly pointed out, we too believe that lifelogging goes beyond that. As seen clearly on the diagram above by Mike, the quantified life has many dimensions to it. The personalized sensors or wearable tech gadgets that we own, the cloud where we upload our personal analytics to, and the personal support networks and communities we turn to for advice on better quantifying our data are merely one aspect of lifelogging, or living your quantified life. The lifelogging journey goes beyond that to encompass the backstage aspects of research, design, digital business, society at large, funding and business development, internet of things and workforce engagement. It is interesting to see how Mike Gotta put this all into perspective and show us the importance of communication between the company and its consumers so that each individual can make better sense of his/her own data.

Read more: Your Sensored Life: An Expanded View of Quantified Self

Image credited to Gartner

OptimizeMe launches to make sense of your QS

Speaking of making better sense of the data that we track, OptimizeMe seeks to do just that and hopes to be optimizing everyone’s lives. With an intuitive interface to record anything and with the activity tracker Moves installed, OptimizeMe allows users to track their daily activities and then have them analyzed by Ari, what they call a personal life coach. Ari could provide insights on how your mood has been affected by sleep or how your stress level is correlated with the quality of your sleep, for instance. You could also make use of OptimizeMe to help you attain the goals you set for the New Year (remember how we mentioned making use of the quantified self to help you achieve some of your New Year’s resolutions?). Although OptimizeMe prides itself on being fully customizable according to users’ needs, some have also mentioned that the user interface could be a little overwhelming. That said, we think that OptimizeMe could be something very useful for all you Quantified Self-ers, so why don’t you try it today?

Read more: OptimizeMe launches on iOS to make sense of your quantified self and Wearable computing: 10 things you should know

Image credited to Central dos Apps

Most photographed cities

sightsmap

Photo-taking and geotagging them have become a part of many of our lifestyles. Whether it’s taking a coffee break at a quaint little cafe or traveling to the ends of the earth for a picture with the polar bears or white tigers, many have taken it as a habit to upload pictures of these moments to Instagram, for instance, and then geotagging it so that our friends know exactly where we’ve been. With such a strong phenomenon taking over the photography world, Google recently released a heat map that highlights the Earth’s most photographed locales. Data included in this map, known as Sightsmap, comes only from geolocated images uploaded by individual users to the Google Maps Panoramio service, which associates images with locations in Google Maps and Google Earth. According to Sightsmap, Europe is the most photographed continent and New York City reigns as the most photographed city of the world. Although these statistics aren’t entirely indicative of the exact places you should visit, Sightsmap even allows you to plan a trip with the map by selecting a starting point and destination, which then brings up estimated travel time and links to travel sites. Let your wanderlust begin!

Read more: The Most Photographed Cities on Earth, According to Google

Dove beauty project nails it

A part of many people’s lifelogging journey includes taking selfies to see how one’s appearance has changed over time. And for some of these people, uploading these pictures to social media platforms have been an essential step in this process. However, with this increasing trend, many young people have based their self-esteem on the number of likes they received or positive comments they garnered. But of course, the downside of this is that many young people end up having low self confidence because of the negative comments they receive, or simply by scrolling through their social media accounts to see how “beautiful” other people’s selfies can be. To counter that, Dove, as part of the familiar Dove campaigns for real beauty, executed a photography project that revealed the insecurities that these girls possessed, and subsequently got them to see how beautiful they really are. Watch the video above and be blown away by these little (and slightly older) beauties!

Read more: This Photo Project Forced Girls To Honestly Look At Their Insecurities, And The Results Are Amazing (Video)
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