Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Record Your Life - With This?

TimeLapse has extensively featured here before and I am always interested to hear about new projects in stop motion. One of the aspects of time laps is the ‘compression’ of time as opposed to the ‘real time’ video recording at 25/30 frames a second. TimeLapse can be any frame rate per second, minute or year. In post processing the images are then output as a clip at the video frame rate. This then is a video with dropped frames, skipping sections, but thus compressing an event in to a much smaller timeframe.
There are brilliant examples of yearlong projects, capturing the change of the seasons.
For a lifelong project a couple of difficulties have to be overcome. One is the readiness of the photographer. For not to miss the opportunity to get the good shot, one has to be constantly on the trigger. This is not possible over a longer period while ‘living’ the lead role in the soap opera project. An other implication is the storage capacity, even though it is a compressed version of filming it generates quickly a lot of data.
A new product is about to enter the market to take on exactly the customers that are interested in that kind of stuff, somehow that would consequently include me too. However, the product was initially developed by Microsoft in one of the research centers, actually in the Cambridge research centre. In short it is a camera that can be worn as a bracelet and it takes, as the name suggests, triggered by a bunch of sensors images. These sensors are light-intensity and light-color sensors, a passive infrared (body heat) detector, a temperature sensor, and a multiple-axis accelerometer. The camera processor controls the sensors and will if there is a change in sensed environment take a picture. Every thing is automatic, hands free photography so to say. Cleverly the developers got rid of the viewfinder, to save on unnecessary elements and probably to stop customers using the device as a normal camera. Whether the device has an actually release button to manually shoot an important scene is not reported.

Images by Microsoft - Example shots taken with a SenseCam

Reading the specs does not necessarily make you jump for joy, the cam spots a VGA 640x480 pixels resolution receiver. I am not a big fan of massive resolution, but having at least the option for a timeLapse on vimeo in HD should probably be standard. That’s only some 1080x720 pix what a first generation iPhone will do! But it goes on, the camera is capable of taking a picture every 30 secs only and there is currently only a 1GB flash memory available. Microsoft suggests this will give you room for 30’000 pictures.
As a life log this is, as gizmodo points out, only a record of 10 days at a 30 sec rate, not exactly a lifetime. Again there is currently no data regarding the power supply available but this is likely to have additional implications. It is unlikely that the cam will manage 10-day session.
Microsoft has now licensed the product to Vicon, based in Oxford, UK, a specialist for motion capturing. The reason named for this move is demand. So far some 500 devises have been produces. The new producer is prepared to launch the product in the next few months according to the New Scientist. But at a price of £500.00, not cheap eh, you might think now, me too.

However the blogging community has taken this announcement to test a few funny slogans. They came up with a couple of funny titles for the device: SenseCam - the Black Box Flight Recorder for human beings, by, 'Black box' cam for total recall, by the BBC.

Images by Microsoft/Vicon - the SenseCam

And here an example of the cam in use.

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