Life Recorder

In 2006, writing about future threats on privacy, I described a life recorder:

A “life recorder” you can wear on your lapel that constantly records is still a few generations off: 200 gigabytes/year for audio and 700 gigabytes/year for video. It’ll be sold as a security device, so that no one can attack you without being recorded.

I can’t find a quote right now, but in talks I would say that this kind of technology would first be used by groups of people with diminished rights: children, soldiers, prisoners, and the non-lucid elderly.

It’s been proposed:

With GPS capabilities built into phones that can be made ever smaller, and the ability for these phones to transmit both sound and audio, isn’t it time to think about a wearable device that could be used to call for help and accurately report what was happening?


The device could contain cameras and microphones that activate if the device was triggered to create evidence that could locate an attacker and cause them to flee, an alarm sound that could help locate the victim and also help scare off an attacker, and a set of sensors that could detect everything from sudden deceleration to an irregular heartbeat or compromised breathing.

Just one sentence on the security and privacy issues:

Indeed, privacy concerns need to be addressed so that stalkers and predators couldn’t compromise the device.


Posted on April 19, 2010 at 6:30 AM81 Comments


Oz Ozzie April 19, 2010 6:47 AM

I was going to write a sci-fi story about this. I fear I’m going to have to get a move on before it’s too late…

This sort of thing requires every to buy in. Since that won’t happen in this society, it’ll grow behind closed-gate opt-in communities, but they’ll have rather different social mores to the one we live in now.

Tom Mellor April 19, 2010 6:57 AM

I remember seeing a similar story about using this technology to track elderly dementia sufferers and feeling vaguely uneasy. Then, I met a distraught middle aged guy in town, who stopped me to ask if I’d seen an old lady in a brown coat. It utrns out his elderly mother, who suffers from Alzheimers had wandered off, diespite the best efforts of her carers. That made me think again. As I’ve seen written, privacy is not about secrecy, rather it’s about loss of control.

Mr. Man April 19, 2010 7:02 AM

This was already in a scifi story from several years ago (don’t remember the author or title). The relevant part of the story line was something like retired elderly were wired and constantly recording, and got a bounty on each crime they reported.

peri April 19, 2010 7:05 AM

Funny typo from the article:
“… phones that can be made ever smaller, and the ability for these phones to transmit both sound and audio …”

Phones that can transmit both sound and audio? The first rule of tautology club is the first rule of tautology club!

BF Skinner April 19, 2010 7:09 AM

Geez does Bruce ever sleep?

I think you’ve got two issues here Bruce. The first is we’ve already started life recording (lower case). The first may arguably be Pepys Diary (steampunk twitter) Now Twitter feeds are being archived in the Library of Congress. ( I wonder how they’ll catalog it) The second is that we leave digital footprints behind when we die. (cf W.Gibson Idoru )

One place for abuse is of course governmental. This is a carry over from the Moscow CCTV fiasco where @Mikhail describes a political reason to prevent truly functioning cameras.

Since the Rodney King beating we’ve seen the police react faster than the politicians to the technology. To the point were Massachutes police are busting videographers for “wiretap”. As has been discussed else where in the blog

There would be an interest, I think, in some in public service to ensure not only that this massive source of survellience sigint is accessible but also that any record was also “redactable”. (‘Sure senator we can cut you out of the dead hookers life feed. No problemo.)

That there would be criminal interest for the same ability goes without saying.

Tom Perry April 19, 2010 7:12 AM

This reminds me of the “helmet cam” idea that many cyclists are adopting in the UK: film your commute and if you’re ever injured through someone else’s poor driving, that person can be identified and held to account.

In combination with a “Smile! You’re on camera!” T-shirt worn while cycling, I’d imagine this could be an effective safety device.

Simon Lyall April 19, 2010 7:42 AM

The SenseCam is the recorder being used by a research project at Microsoft.

A Science Fiction story that involves similar technology is the Neanderthal Parallax triology by Robert J Sawyer. From Wikipedia:

“About eight decades before the time of the novels, companion implants were perfected and issued to all [people]. These are comprehensive recording and transmission devices, mounted in the forearm of each person. Their entire life is constantly monitored and sent to their alibi archive, a repository of recordings that are only accessible by their owner, or by the proper authorities when investigating an infraction, and in the latter case only in circumstances relevant to the investigation.”

Kieran April 19, 2010 7:53 AM

A device doesn’t need to be able to store everything to make it useful – something that merely stored the last hour or so of video/audio and uploaded it in reverse order at the touch of a button would be pretty much ideal for anyone concerned about being assaulted or harrassed.

Clive Robinson April 19, 2010 8:08 AM

@ Bruce,

Your storage estimates are well off.

The reason being you are making one or two needless assumptions.

Hanging around my neck right now is an “MD80 Mini DV” you can by in the UK from Maplin for around 100USD equivalent. It uses around 1Gbyte of SD card storage for 40mins of recording.

It can hold an 8Gbyte card but it’s battery is only good for about 2 hours full recording. However in “audio squelch standby” battery life is suposadly 250hours.

You can however power it externally via it’s micro USB connector and use it as a webcam. Thus with an external power supply and just shouting record at it, it will switch from standby to “full record”.

Now there are other devices out there that contain “video squelch” that is they can detect the fact the camera has nothing of real interest to record and switches the frame rate down to preserve memory.

Thus the systems could be combined to only record most of your day into 8Gbyte with little difficulty.

Other software being developed at various places in the UK does “life logging in context”. That is it goes through your “days recording” and from the visual and audio information breaks the recordings down into contexts that it automatically indexes.

This “split into context” can also quite easily be used to do “data compression” in that a context of you in the bathroom shaving etc can be dropped quite easily after a few days or a month if nothing relevant happened likewise most human activities such as sitting reading a book / newspaper, watching television, sleeping, eating…

In reality very very little of our normal lives needs to be recorded probably little more than an hour and a half a day (say 1GByte a day) and there are ways to “offline” compress this down by substantial amounts. So a couple of years would quite comfortably fit on a half terabyte drive costing around 100USD…

Challenge April 19, 2010 8:10 AM

I would wear one if I could turn it on and off and it requires a password to review (and law enforcement couldn’t force me to reveal the password).

Clive Robinson April 19, 2010 8:18 AM

For those who want to know a little more about “life logging” google the following,

“life log” research university Dublin

It will pull up quite a lot of the current research work.

Mike April 19, 2010 8:28 AM

Another story line from this came from Robert Sawyer in his Neanderthal Parallax Trilogy. In those stories, a parallel universe where the Neanderthals survived. The Neanderthals had 24/7 audio/video recording of themselves and an area around them. This was to prevent crime. The devices that did the recordings also had other uses. Mr. Sawyer does a wonderful job of showing that this is not a perfect solution and the “apparent utopia” is fraught with hidden traps. Very good trilogy.

Joanne April 19, 2010 8:39 AM

I would wear one of those – if only for the time I either witness harrassment or get harrassed by the police. Indeed, as long as I could turn it off, I would like to keep it as an impartial witness.

Of course- I would want to be able to turn it off. For the times it was on, I really wouldn’t care if someone else was watching.

ex animo-


BF Skinner April 19, 2010 8:44 AM

@bob “…Aurlieus”
Hmmmm, perhaps. If you’re refering to Meditations I don’t think I agree. It was a finished product, a deliberate statement of philosophy.

There must have been other diarist before Pepys but what makes him a fit case is that his entries were about himself (‘This is the Sam Pepys year. Women I want you to think about how you wear your hair affects ME Sam Pepys. Think how does the Black Death affect ME Sam Pepys’) and in tweet length and style. “had jolly time a M. Smiths tavern”

As a follow up – he ciphered the diary entries. It was centuries before anyone bothered to break the cipher and publish his work.

CyberBob April 19, 2010 8:58 AM

Back in the mid-90s, there was Jennicam and several other live home webcams. I imagine if the technology was available, someone like Jenni would try to make money selling subscriptions to watch every moment of their life.

Soon the NSA will need computers to search through all of the video posted in order to … wait, they probably already are.

Eric Kimminau April 19, 2010 9:02 AM

Rather than planning for the capability to store a years worth of data, I would recommend archiving daily/weekly to the desktop and selling a subscription to some kind of backup service, like carbonite, etc. This decreases the size, cost,battery, etc of the device. It also insures that there is an offsite backup of all but the most recent data since last sync. My .02.

J News April 19, 2010 9:16 AM

The 2004 movie “The Final Cut” dealt with the topic of “life recorders” as a central premise of its plot. It even included discussions of refuseniks who were equipped at birth with life recorders, who reached adulthood and wanted to find a way to turn the thing off.

Heikki April 19, 2010 9:41 AM

It wouldn’t need a lifetime of storage, if it had a Red Button. Just keep one week of continuous video, and if the Red Button was not pressed, compress to a snapshot every minute or two. When ever the Red Button got pressed (emergency, important moment, something worth remembering), store the preceding and following 6 hours for much longer. When ever the device is near its base station, it could upload everything to an off-line storage while charging its batteries. One of the challenges would be to index the data, so that one could find something interesting in the archive…

paul April 19, 2010 9:41 AM

Yep: a day or two is typically what you’d need. And storage is simply not a problem for size (maybe for cost). 8gb of micro-SD is about 1x1x0.1 cm.

If I were making a system like this, I would avoid all but the simplest (e.g. MPEG-style) compression, both because you never know what might be useful later and because a smaller record might reduce the resources needed for an attack.

dhasenan April 19, 2010 9:42 AM

These would be useful for people with long-term memory problems, if the recordings could be searched efficiently.

Granted, then a government could subpoena my memories to convict me of a crime, or a virus could more easily wipe out my memories (or encrypt them and charge a fee to decrypt them).

As long as I control my own data, I think this would be great.

btdt April 19, 2010 10:01 AM

I have a Ucorder in my pocket now, its approximately the size of a disposable cigarrette lighter. has a pocket clip and is not immediatly identifiable as video equipment. I also have a muvi which is half the size,
they do not handle any kind of fast movement so its necessary to move slowly.
when I called the police to enforce a court order of protection, at 5:30 in the morning and they quibbled with the judgement and blew off the call because it was near the end of thier shift, I only had an audio digital recorder, I later that day got the 911 printout which had the police report in it and these corrupt officers wrote that I seemed drunk. That was not true but it gave me another insite into how police corruption operates.
Its common for abusers to try to use position and lies to deny what they are doing so if you have any such problem its worth getting audio and videowithaudio before dealing with police or criminals. Of course both hate video cameras because they depend on no one challenging their lies.

Brian April 19, 2010 10:02 AM

I saw a device that does exactly this on sale last year. Its a camera that takes photos every few seconds. It can then download them all, and compile them into events based on similarities in the images. It was just another step to bring them live, online with GPS units. Personally, I don’t like the idea, but cameras are so common that it really makes these devices a moot point.

Brett April 19, 2010 10:06 AM

Another source for this sort of video/audio recording in the case of attacks: David Brin’s 1990 novel Earth, postulated elderly people who were wired for video and audio to try and catch younger people acting anti-socially.

Jared Lessl April 19, 2010 10:10 AM

“The Final Cut”

That movie just bugged me. The catch with those life recorders was that they could only be read from after the wearer had died and the recorder harvested from their brain. Wirelessly reading even a few minutes of experience from a living person was fraught with risk. So it’s useful for solving some murder cases (where there’s a body and an intact recorder) and putting together pretty video obituaries, and getting the last needed clue for long-unsolved cases when some relevant person finally kicks it, but that’s pretty much it. Write-only memory, indeed.

In reality, cops and feds and intel agencies would move heaven and earth to figure out how to safely and reliably (and likely discretely as well) read from the recorders without having to kill the owner. We’re supposed to believe that this technology has been around long enough for people to grow die of old age without a breakthrough made in that department? No way.

mcb April 19, 2010 10:31 AM

Also from Mr. Enderle’s breathless blurb:

“The need for personal security remains very high. Already this year we have had a number of women killed, children killed or kidnapped, and armed robberies including home invasions.”

Thanks for the detailed statistical analysis, Rob. Sort of a cross between “If it saves one life it’s worth it” and “It’s five o’clock somewhere” I guess.

He continues:

“On top of that, there are ongoing heart attacks, drug overdoses, and accidents (as detailed by the OnStar ads) that highlight a need for a device and service that could be with you wherever you are and get you help when you needed it…”

“As detailed by the OnStar ads?” I must have missed that one…

“This is OnStar you seem to be driving erratically”

“Gnerg, zluck!”

“This is OnStar; is anyone there?”

“This is Timmy. My mommy ate a whole bottle of her pills. She says we’re going to the lake.”

“We’re stopping the car, Timmy. When it stops moving get out and run away from Mommy! Thank you for using OnStar!”

Is anyone else embarrassed that the first people in line for The Singularity are risk-averse, Life Alert wearing, OnStar subscribing, Facebook addicted, Twitter twits?

Z Lozinski April 19, 2010 10:42 AM

Gordon Bell has been working on MyLifeBits at Microsoft Research for at least 8 years.

I noticed the other day at a bookstore that he has recently published some of the conclusions of the project in a book. “Total Recall: How the E-Memory Revolution Will Change Everything” Gordon Bell , Jim Gemmell, Dutton Adult, Sept 2009.

I haven’t read the book yet, so I don’t know how well he addresses the privacy aspects. When I originally saw the papers they were focusing on how to manage and index the data, back when a lifetime of data seemed a lot.

Bernie April 19, 2010 10:43 AM

I am embroiled in a criminal action for having done almost the same thing as you describe.

I have two criminal harassment charges against me for taking pictures of a person in a public place and on a public road. For various reasons, the hearing has been postponed since July, 2009.

Take a look at what I captured and see what you think:

For all the background and details see this:

The legal implications of a life recorder are considerable if my on-going legal issues are any indicator.

Ken April 19, 2010 10:53 AM

David Brin wrote about this type of technology and its social implications in his excellent book “Earth”. The basic premise of the book is jump forward 50 years into a possible Earth future and see what is happening. The recording devices are just one component of many intertwining story lines. Well worth the read.

nrc April 19, 2010 11:10 AM


“Is anyone else embarrassed that the first people in line for The Singularity are risk-averse, Life Alert wearing, OnStar subscribing, Facebook addicted, Twitter twits?”

That’s awesome–I’m saving that one!

Samuel April 19, 2010 11:12 AM

Hello Bruce, you really should read David Brin, not only he presents an interesting view on privacy, but he also described the concept of the wearcam in 1998 😉

Steve April 19, 2010 11:21 AM

As mentioned by Bernie, the device as described would be illegal in the UK.

You would be arrested and the device confiscated by the police within a few days of wearing one around London.

(anti-terrorist laws regarding what you are and are not allowed to photograph)

Tim April 19, 2010 11:23 AM

This technology is now closer to fruition based on the HP Memristor news that hit tech journals and public domain (NY Times). Memristors will facilitate an increase in flash capacity and lowered cost within 2 to 3 years – at least doubling initially while maintaining same cost. Within 10 years the life recorder will be a common device.

Brian Carnell April 19, 2010 11:32 AM

A lot of the stuff some law enforcement agencies use (not enough IMO) is starting to fall to the point where its cheap enough for consumer use. For example, check out the Vievu system — 4 hour recording time/battery life and features to increase the odds of knowing a video has or has not been tampered with (I don’t know enough about the system or hashing to know if their system is actually effective or not). All for $900.

The problem, of course, is that in many states you’re committing a crime if you’re recording in a non-public space without consent of everyone being recorded (up to and including recording the cops who are recording you).

JRR April 19, 2010 11:35 AM

@Clive – the problem is that all “video squelch” I know of is motion based. If you’re walking around with a camera, everything is moving all the time.

The MD80’s compression is lousy, but that’s a good thing; “good” compression of a moving camera’s video would leave it quite badly artifacted. it uses motion JPEG and that’s good for what it’s for.

BTW, DealExtreme has the MD80 for $20 (no microSD card). New version with a plastic body so it’s about half the weight. It also comes with a helmet mount now. I have one of the older ones.

GreenSquirrel April 19, 2010 11:38 AM

Personally I wont wear one and I would like the opportunity to take legal action against anyone who records me with their device without getting prior, written permission.

(bah humbug)

(also, I understand public space surveillance is an issue and my chances in courte are in the region of zero but a rant is a rant)

Joanne April 19, 2010 11:46 AM

Didn’t Arthur Clarke have something like this in … I believe, “Imperial Earth”? There were people who recorded their entire lives as a fad kind of thing… It was only mentioned in passing though, I think more as an extension of that person who has to take snapshots of everything

And, of course, Dale Cooper from “Twin Peaks” was doing almost that with his tapes to Diane…

ex animo –

kangaroo April 19, 2010 1:12 PM

Let’s also give Brin credit for “Earth”, where the elderly use these specs for self-protection, and to hassle the young-uns who want to have a more interesting life.

John Campbell April 19, 2010 1:23 PM

@Mr. Man

“Earth” by David Brin, who speaks of the “transparent society”.

Again, the real problem (consider Brunner’s “Shockwave Rider”) is non-flat distribution.

If the data is not communal it is in the hands of an authority.

Rick Miller April 19, 2010 1:54 PM

I had some personal experience with “life recording”.
I’m glad I did!

My then-wife had threatened to falsely accuse me of domestic violence, implying that she would bruise herself and call the police to have me arrested. So starting a few months prior to my divorce, I kept an inexpensive voice recorder on my person and recording whenever I was expecting to be anywhere near her. I figured it was the only way I’d have any chance of proving my innocence if she ever actually did it.

Most days I’d just delete it all but any time she did something crazy or threatened to, I’d show her that I was recording and I’d keep that day’s file.

Pointing out that you’re recording can stop a raging maniac in their tracks, unless they’re genuinely insane. And it’s perfectly legal to play such a recording for the social worker, guardian-ad-litem and psychologist in a divorce, even if it’s not admissible as evidence in court.

Wearing that recorder prevented me from being falsely accused of crimes, saved my children from an oppressive environment and forced my ex to take her first step towards treatment.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater April 19, 2010 2:00 PM

Here’s a Q.. How much to incorporate a small cam plus battery and, say, 32GB flash into a policeman’s badge or some other mandatory-wearable camera?

Make them tamper-resistant and admissible in court, put a day or two’s worth of audio/video (with motion sensing/vox activation) on it and dump it at the end of a shift..

Warren April 19, 2010 2:32 PM

Robert J. Sawyer’s book came out in 2002 (Hominids), describing the life-recorder in detail, as it was used by a parallel-universe group of hominids descended from what we would call a Neanderthal.


kangaroo April 19, 2010 2:48 PM

JC: Again, the real problem (consider Brunner’s “Shockwave Rider”) is non-flat distribution.

Yeah, Brin finally realized that a few years ago — that technology, by itself, can not be a savior. The means of production don’t determine social relationships, but merely constrain them… Old Carlos Marx was wrong (or at least, oversimplistic to the point of being wrong) yet again.

Mike C April 19, 2010 3:26 PM

@Joanne: “Indeed, as long as I could turn it off, I would like to keep it as an impartial witness.”

However, if you have the ability to turn it off, then it’s not an impartial witness.

AfOR April 19, 2010 4:00 PM

Hi All.

Having been recently accused, out of the blue, of a 10 year campaign of domestic violence and sexual abuse, as part of a separation / child custody battle, I would LOVE to have been wearing one of these 24/7 for the past decade.

As my story should warn you, merely saving the last 24 hours, or any other arbitrary period, simply won’t work.

Keep up the good work Bruce.

John Hardin April 19, 2010 4:26 PM

It’s becoming common practice among the Open Carry community to carry a small digital voice (and now video) recorder to record any interactions with the police to document evidence of harassment, should it occur. In WA State, for example, the privacy laws that require consent to record specifically exclude law enforcement officers in the line of duty – they have no expectation of privacy when they’re doing their jobs in public.

@Dr. Kenneth Noisewater: How do you make the camera tamper-resistant against a piece of duct tape over the lens and microphone?

@Steve: Not being able to lawfully record your interactions with the police in public seems to me a great way to ensure abuse of power. Are audio recordings verboten as well?

Clive Robinson April 19, 2010 5:43 PM

@ gwem,

“if you go shopping with $100 and can only get a 500GB drive, you need to up your game.”

Sorry I did not make it clear Maplin (who’s prices I was doing an approximate GBP-USD conversion on) is what we in the UK call a “High Street Resales outlet” they don’t exactly do “bargain basement” prices. It’s the sort of place people goto when they are in a hurry, want to pay cash or don’t know any better.

Oh and in the UK we tend to have to pay a 50% premium to the “middle men” as well as 17.5% VAT (sales tax) on top of that…

Clive Robinson April 19, 2010 6:26 PM

@ JRR,

“… the problem is that all “video squelch” I know of is motion based. If you’re walking around with a camera, everything is moving all the time.

A lot of it is, however I’ve seen some nifty stuff done for “robot vision” systems. It works a little like the “face tracking” you get on some systems only kind of in the reverse. That is it can identify and lock onto one or more objects in the background and uses them as points of reference. From this it can work out what is moving and how. That is it can tell if the camera is moving or what is in the cameras POV that is moving with respect to the background. What I was shown was a very early prototype, but it was non the less impressive. Apparently the idea is a camera mounted on an R2D2 like bot that randomly patrols around a warehouse or large store like an electronic K9 that does not leave a mess etc. If the camera detects movement against the background then it trips a silent alarm and the camera tracks the moving object, and the video streams live to a command post. The downside is it needs quite a bit of heavy lift in terms of CPU grunt currently.

From what I saw and other technology I’ve seen I give it maybe four to six years before it ends up in consumer level products for watching nature etc

“The MD80’s compression is lousy, but that’s a good thing; “good” compression of a moving camera’s video would leave it quite badly artifacted. it uses motion JPEG and that’s good for what it’s for.”

Yup my son loves it as I mount it on one of his OO model railway locos and send it around the layout (anything to keep young “pesticus” quite 😉 and it works better than the tiny Swann 2.4Ghz camera I’ve built into his “BoCo”

I’ve the metal cased one and it has an impressive low light capability. I was at Airbourn this year and they have a fireworks party on the final night off of the end of Eastbourn pier. My son encouraged me to record it. I must say the results where way way more than I would have expected.

The only down side that I’ve had any issue with is the dam LED it’s in the wrong place, and is a dead give away to anybody you are recording (which may well be the reason it’s where it is).

“BTW, DealExtreme has the MD80 for $20 (no microSD card). New version with a plastic body so it’s about half the weight. It also comes with a helmet mount now”.

At that price I might get me a couple and crack them out of their shells and build one inside a hat with an 8Ghz card and a better battery, and put the mic somewhere more sensible.

What would be a real improvement is stereo audio. the joy of it is the ability to “phase” the two signals to get rid of background noise etc.

If you ever go shopping for audio bugs get a stereo one or use two mono ones the payoff for recovering audio is worth it’s effort and price ten times over.

One thing that does surprise me though I mentioned that I was wearing mine (as I do quite frequently) yet nobody has picked up on it and passed comment… Hmm, I’m not sure who that says more about 😉

MW April 20, 2010 1:42 AM

So you equip your little Timmy with a life recorder to (somehow) make him safe from all those nasty paedophile abductors. He wears it going to school. He wears it in class. He wears it going to the school swimming pool. He enters the changing room – and suddenly you’re a criminal producer of child porn. Oops.

anonymous coward April 20, 2010 5:46 AM

After having been on the receiving end of the police distorting facts and inventing shit out of thin air I have been thinking about such a device before. It would have been a great tool in proving these lying bastards wrong in court. I want one! NOW! Of course all data needs to be encrypted, hidden and stored at a safe place so it isn’t “accidentially” lost during a police investigation.

freedomofeverything April 20, 2010 7:27 AM

I’ll happily start a competing business selling discreet life recorder jammers to those who want them.

Bob Kiger April 20, 2010 1:21 PM

Hi Bruce–
The notion of a life recorder is just fine. It is a replica of the grander recording that our brains do every day plus it leaves an audit trail that often stands up in court.

I run Videography Lab and am credited as the seminal author of “videography” in the OCT 1972 edition of “American Cinematographer” magazine. The article, entitled “Videography. What Does It All Mean?” is just now coming to be understood and your life recorder is but one manifestation of living in “the Age of Videography” [Miller Freeman Publishing].

What about the filmaker who lost one eye and is now getting a imaging device planted in the other socket. He’s got a few technical issues like a reliable power supply and whether the output can eventually be recorded neurally, but these technologies are constantly developing.

The defensive use of videography is very important and your life recorder name and this discussion gives rise to defense/offense strategies for videography. Best wishes!

Stefan Hoevenaar April 20, 2010 3:47 PM

In 1999 Andersen Consulting’s (now Accenture) Center for Strategic Technology Research (CStar) developed a necklace with a camera, mic, heart rate sensor and an electrical skin resistance sensor for measuring Electrodermal Response (EDR).

Wearing a battery pack and a harddisk on your hip, it would record constantly but only actually store the minutes right before and after moments of great excitement, tension or shock, thus automatically collecting the highlights of your life. Life recording with a filter. I guess the filter was originally intended to save harddisk space.

They had a few people walking around with prototypes. In their publications (I cannot find a reference) they did express the worry that insurance companies might make this a compulsory gadget, some day.

alreadyonthelist April 20, 2010 11:01 PM

Not worth the tradeoff. Personally, I’d just like my privacy back, nuts to safety. After three years of being monitored by the feds, I’d rather be tarred and feathered by a mob than give anybody anymore data about me.

Adam Lock April 21, 2010 4:14 AM

“I can’t find a quote right now, but in talks I would say that this kind of technology would first be used by groups of people with diminished rights: children, soldiers, prisoners, and the non-lucid elderly.”

Used with or used on?

Andrew April 21, 2010 11:03 AM

I came up with this in my head a long time ago. Some variance of this will definitely take place. Then all we need is lightning-fast police robots to respond to the scene.

Jonathan Dotse April 21, 2010 11:28 AM

I can see how this could spur the development of handheld emp devices, then things start to get really interesting.

Nick April 21, 2010 12:30 PM

This is part of a bigger issue. Currently there is extensive survielance of the citizen, particularly in the UK, by the state.

Now consider what happens when the tables are turned and the citizen does the same back to the state. They will hate it.

  1. Propergation of decisions that are adverse to the state. So if you get a tax ruling in your favour, with a record of it, the state can’t renege easily, and others can be told.
  2. If you are involved in a dispute with the state, a verbatim record of it is rather interesting. I have one case recently where I recorded a conversation (legally), where the person from the state deliberately and without any doubt made up the law. They were reading it out realised it didn’t back up their argument, so made up a bit. Silly thing to do when you haven’t checked that the other person doesn’t have a copy in front of them.

Turning the tables will make it very hard for the state. So I suspect their reaction will be to make it illegal. It’s already happened here where it is illegal to film police, even if they are acting illegally

My conclusion is that the citizen has more to gain from having openness, and having a concrete record of your interactions with the state is part of it.

There are things like this

for recording what happens in your car. Just part of the recording of your life.

Just to show what can happen with openness, in this case leaked, just do a search on “MPs and expenses” in the UK. Over half the members of parliament have had to give money back. So many that even the government balked at prosecuting them.

Openness matters. The next one in the UK is COINS.

The state has a lot to fear from openness

Yaniv April 22, 2010 10:19 PM

Orson Scott Card already wrote about such a device (a “Loop Recording Device” he called it, I think) in his “Worthing Saga” sci-fi universe.

vanilla April 24, 2010 9:08 AM

Years ago, when I thought about these concepts in my daydreams, I saw it as an actual job: Official Recorder. Sort of like the present-day Notary Public. Verify, scan and satlink upload. The device was an implant in one eye. Training and certification required, of course.

Note to those whose lives have been upended by false accusations: being framed is something I can not stand. I don’t blame you for protecting yourself with those particular people.

GM2010 April 24, 2010 10:30 PM

Interesting post. This subject came up in a conversation the other day in the context of keeping cops accountable for their increasingly irrational and violent assaults on citizens. Lapel A/V recorder, transmitted in real time to the internet 24/7. What was that “request”, officer?

Ryan Ramage March 21, 2011 1:54 PM

I have been liferecording for the last 8 months. Its never been about proving people wrong or some of the edgy issues highlighted. I simply want to remember important things. I do consulting and it works great for meeting people so I can remember about the intricate details of the meeting. And it works great for our kids cause they say fun stuff.

The hardest part is actually managing all the data, and making it useful.

That being said, I have open sourced my project, and it can be freely used and downloaded here:

Hope others will join in trying this out.

Valerie October 10, 2012 7:42 AM

Just wanted to mention the NCIS just had an episode mentioning the beta testing of the life recorder.

TGB October 10, 2012 9:08 AM

Ah, life recorders. Such fond memories they will take. Remember that time you were trying to sift through your life recorded images, looking for the decent ones? The hours spent separating the needles from the haystack of crap life photos. Wonderful memories, all life recorded.

Life record-ception.

Buck January 31, 2014 7:08 PM

Yes please! Kickstart these!
Must include a framework for non-network connected (or enabled) devices with redundantly distributed/encrypted (and physical) storage methods…

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