Tag Archives: Steve Mann

Lifeloggers: Watch the documentary today

The documentary about the pioneers, thought leaders and entrepreneurs behind the lifelogging and self-tracking movement is out! Visit http://lifeloggersmovie.com/ to see the 25 minute film. Shot last summer, the film looks at the roots of the movement, talks to the people who have introduced lifelogging to the world and explores the implications self-tracking may have on our lives. Let us know what you think!


More on Lifelogging

Also check out the guest blog posts from some of the experts featured in the film as well as the filmmakers themselves:

Interview with Steve Mann

What’s Gordon Bell betting on?

Interview with Lifeloggers reporter, Amanda Alm

Biohacking with the Bulletproof Executive, Dave Asprey

A chat with Lifeloggers man behind the camera, Victor Bloom

Lifeloggers film editor, Julian Antell

Interview with Steve Mann on the rise of sousveillance

Steve Mann is a tenured professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto and also the General Chair for the IEEE ISTAS13 conference in Toronto 27-29th June 2013, http://veillance.me – where Memoto’s CEO will be a speaker. Mann is considered the “father of wearable computing.” He is featured in the upcoming documentary, Lifeloggers.


Photo: Mann

How Steve Mann became the “father of wearable computing”

I began with something I called “Digital Eye Glass” to help people see better.  This was inspired by a childhood fascinating with welding, and electric discharge, lighting, etc., to be able to see extreme dynamic range and extreme lighting situations such as extreme electronic flash and extreme electric arc discharge lamps, etc., together with computer overlays, i.e. Augmediated Reality. After I developed the Generation-1 Digital Eye Glass in 1980, with graphics and text overlays from a 6502 microprocessor-based computer with NTSC output, another company, 3M, came up with something called “SpeedGlas” or “SpeedGlass,” in 1981, which helps people see better by globally darkening the entire glass, but not in a way that allows one to discern any spatial variation — their glass darkened completely over its entire field-of-view.  My Eye Glass helped the wearer see better by processing video imagery and re-displaying it for better eyesight.

While wearing the Eye Glass in everyday life, I found I was being stopped by security guards concerned that I might be taking pictures.  At the time computers did not have enough capacity to even store a single image in its entirety.  In 1980 my entire wearable computer had only 64k of RAM == not enough store even a single frame of video.

But these encounters with paranoid security guards got me thinking about “Veillance” because it seemed that the only places I was having problems wearing a computerized seeing aid were places that had surveillance cameras. Back in those days surveillance cameras were very rare, but they were starting to appear in more and more places, and I was starting to be harassed by security guards in more and more places for merely wearing a vision aid.

The beginning of sousveillance

So I began thinking about “surveillance” and formulated a theory that what I was wearing was the reciprocal of surveillance, i.e. inverse surveillance.

In Canada where I was born, most people speak some French, “surveillance” is a French word that means “watching from above” or “watching over” or “overwatching.” “Veillance” means “watching” or “monitoring” or “sight”, and “sur” means “over” or “from above”. So I referred to my vision aid as a “sousveillance” device, from the French prefix “sous” which means “below,” “beneath,” or “under,” as in “sous-chef” or “sous la table” (under the table).

Somehow my invention (the sousveillance device) gets along with surveillance like antimatter gets along with matter, i.e. conflict. And since surveillance was growing greatly, it seemed so was the opposition to sousveillance by officials of the “surveillance superhighway” quickly growing throughout our country.

In 1992 I was accepted at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the U.S.) and brought my invention to the MIT Media Lab to found the “MIT Wearable Computing Project.”  Here’s a short video with an interview of the Director of the MIT Media Lab, Nicholas Negroponte, explaining how this all started:  http://www.glogger.mobi/v/75560

In 1993 with the introduction of the World Wide Web, I did something fun and interesting.  I created something I called “Wearable Wireless Webcam” and put my Eye Glass online streaming live video to the then new World Wide Web. By 1995, I was on “Cool Site of the Day,” which, at the time, was the world’s largest web portal.  http://wearcam.org/eastcampusfire and here’s an article someone wrote criticizing my invention: http://tech.mit.edu/V116/N28/mann.28c.html

By 1998 I had miniaturized this technology in a neckworn pendant containing a camera with fisheye lens and various sensors; see  http://www.glogger.mobi/v/199679. This creates something I called a “LifeGlog,” a lifelong “glog.”


“Glog” is short for “CYBORGlog” in the same way that “Blog” is short for “WEBlog”. A lifeglog is a lifelong cyborglog, i.e. a log that does not take conscious thought or effort to generate. A weblog requires thought or effort to write. A lifelog can be for example, a handwritten diary kept over one’s entire life, whereas a lifeglog is generated automatically by machine.

I made the design (of the sousveillance device) to mimick the appearance of the surveillance cameras in the world around me. In this way it takes on a familiar aesthetic but artistically a detournement, re-situating these familiar objects in a different way.

Lessons from lifeglogging

Glogging has taught me a lot about other people.  One thing I learned is about integrity. Surveillance embodies a kind of hypocrisy: “we’re going to watch you but you’re not allowed to watch us.” (See http://www.glogger.mobi/v/180231) The opposite of surveillance is sousveillance.  The opposite of hypocrisy is integrity. In some sense, therefore, the sousveillance necklace is a kind of “honesty pendant” that focuses on integrity and diminishes, or challenges, hypocrisy.

Sousveillance teaches us a lot about human nature, honesty, integrity, corruption, and the like. Most notably, the lines between surveillance and sousveillance are being blurred, and I look forward to seeing companies like Memoto bring forth a “Veillance” society that challenges the “Sur” in “Sur-Veillance.”

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

What’s Gordon Bell betting on?

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Republished with permission of the author.

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

Memoto’s CEO to speak at the 2013 IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society


Memoto’s CEO, Martin Källström, will be a plenary speaker at the 2013 IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS13). This year’s conference is about “everything smart– smart grids, smart infrastructure, smart homes, smart cars, and smart appliances but also smart people” and will be held in Toronto, Canada, June 27-29, 2013.

The growth of this segment of “smart people” or those who wear sensors is increasing as smart accessories find their way into all aspects of one’s life. There are many implications for these developments, like the impact of having ultra precise intelligence will have on decision making. Alexander Hayes, a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Informatics at the University of Wollongong and the publicity chair of the ISTAS13, points out that,

people wearing sensors (e.g. monitoring temperature, physiological characteristics), location data loggers, microphones, cameras, tokens, and other wearable and embeddable systems can see direct benefits for a host of applications including health and well-being, emergencies, convenience, and care-oriented solutions. However, these emerging technologies and applications have the potential to become controlling applications because they are used to make decisions, generate alerts, log employee movements etc. There are great socio-ethical implications that will stem from these technologies and fresh regulatory and legislative approaches are required to deal with this new environment.

The importance of exploring the implications of wearable technology is critical for many people, as it can and will impact those who are not using it. Associate Professor and ISTAS13 program chair, Katina Michael asks on the conference’s website: “Are we ready for this explosion in personal recording devices that log the world around us?” This and many other questions pertaining to living in a smart world will be explored. Martin will be sharing with the conference how the Memoto Lifelogging Camera came to market and what Memoto has learned about the impact our tiny, wearable camera has had on the world so far. He will be in good company with some of the world’s leading researchers and innovators including Steve Mann and Gordon Bell.

If you’re interested in learning more about ISTAS13 please visit the site, http://veillance.me/

If you enjoyed this post, please follow us on twitter and facebook! PS – Have you pre-ordered your Memoto Lifelogging Camera yet?

Canada part 1

Yes that’s right, we’re in the part 2 city right now but we thought we would fill you in on part 1 first.

So we left New York and took a yellow cab to J.F.K. Everything was moving along smoothly, even customs. We got on the plane and to our surprise we had the front row seats witch means extra legroom. Well lucky us cause next thing we know it’s lightening and thunder around us and the plane was stuck on the runway for 2 hours – fun!

Well eventually the plane took of and we ended up “only” 45min late for our interview with Steve Mann. What a fascinating man. He taught us yet another term; Lifeglogging. According to him, lifelogging is when you keep some kind of journal while glogging (cyborg logging) is recording what you see with a camera or in Steve’s case: EyeTap. I got to do a little glogging my self when his students demonstrated one of their many projects in the Engineering Annex at University of Toronto


After getting a taste of future technology we met Sasha Chua and Alan Mayer who know each other from the Toronto QS-meet ups. They, like journalist John from New York, call themselves proud geeks. Sacha even got it on her business card. Later we had dinner with another member of their QS community, Nicholas Manolakos. He’s a broad range tracker and has been tracking everything from food, books, places he been and people he met. But he keeps his data to himself and for self use only. That’s why he won’t call himself a lifelogger since he believes a lifelogger shares the data. I didn’t ask him or Sacha and Alan if either of them glog though.

Do I count as a glogger when I’m Instagramming?

/Amanda P.s. Ville saw a spider today and can not be reached for comments during recovery.