Notes on “SenseCam: A Retrospective Memory Aid”

September 28, 2008

SenseCam: A Retrospective Memory Aid: Steve Hodges, Lyndsay Williams, Emma Berry, Shahram Izadi, James Srinivasan, Alex Butler, Gavin Smyth, Narinder Kapur and Ken Wood.

A SenseCam is a digital camera, usually worn around the neck, that automatically takes photographs. It records important events to aid memory of those events. A study on memory-impaired users showed the SenseCam’s value.

This paper included several insights and information about researcher contributions. The first major contribution was the development of the SenseCam hardware and PC software. It is clear the authors iterated on the design in response to real-world issues. From their testing, they learned about new power and speed requirements. The second major contribution was the extensive testing of the SenseCam as a memory aid for memory-impaired users. They compared it with other memory aids such as note-taking. They determined that it was extremely useful and well-loved.

The researchers plan to test the SenseCam with more types of memory-impairment, such as Alzheimer’s. I would also like to see the opposite approach: Can the SenseCam be made useful and socially acceptable to healthy individuals?

The preliminary study they conducted was excellent as a first study. Further studies should increase the rigour and delve into details to determine what features of the SenseCam are essential. For example, how much is gained by having “intelligent” photo-taking algorithms, as compared with 30-second snapshots?

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