Category Archives: Image

Devices/software that record images.

Video Life-Logging getting creepier? Para-Shoot now on pre-order (Update: looks like an existing product)

The Para-Shoot Kickstarter project has now moved to pre-order phase and looks set to be the most practical visual life-logging tool yet — it can cover a whole day in relatively high resolution, but the creepy thing is that, unlike the Vicon Revue/Sensecam, this is designed to not look like a camera. The high resolution combined with the fact that you can’t tell when it is recording is going to raise the same ethical questions as Google Glass.

EDIT 22 Aug 2013: previous mention of the neckband battery was from the ParaShoot v1 (unfunded) kickstarter page that I had linked to in error, thanks to Dave and others for pointing that out!

UPDATE: kickstarter has suspended funding for para-shoot, no explanation yet. There are suggestions on twitter that the hardware has been cloned.

UPDATE: campaign now moved to indigogo but no explanation for kickstarter suspension.

UPDATE: looks like this is a re-badge of an available Chinese product called Unieye, see for example this eBay listing:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Unieye-Waterproof-Dustproof-Wireless-Sports-Video-Camera-720P-30FPS-Handfree-DV-/360732959926?pt=UK_AudioTVElectronics_Video_Camcorders&hash=item53fd5c24b6

Lifelogging Cameras, New Devices and the Law

In addition to the well publicized Google Glass there are a couple of interesting kickstarter projects in this space. Memento is the most mature as far as I know but ParaShoot appeared recently and has some promising features, like all day battery by incorporating it into the neckstrap and wireless transmission to overcome the painful charge/sync cycle on the Microsoft SenseCam (Vicon Revue, now discontinued).

I often get asked about the legality of wearing a lifelogging camera. For this I turn to photographers who have been looking at the issue of taking still images in public and private places for a long time. There is a comprehensive country by country guide and for those interested in the UK situation there is a very comprehensive site¬† (and another with a handy 2-page printable PDF) but the short version for the UK is that in a public place where there is no normal expectation of privacy you can take photos of anything unless you are actively harassing someone. This means that you can stand on public land and take images of private property. While on private property you should follow whatever rules the owner insists on and they have the right to ask you to leave, but you don’t have to delete any images you may have already taken.¬† In general no one can delete your images without permission and the police can only seize your or memory cards in the context of arresting you for an offence (most of the time taking images isn’t an offense).

ViconRevue (formerly Microscoft SenseCam)

Formerly known as the Microsoft SenseCam, Microsoft licensed this to Vicon to sell commercially in 2010 as the Vicon Revue. At time of writing this device recorded VGA quality still images at irregular intervals based on an algorithm which responds to onboard sensor data from PIR, light, temperature and movement sensors. Both the history of the sensor data and the images are stored on the onboard flash drive. The device has a mini-USB interface which can be used to access the images on the flash drive as well as charge the built-in battery. The usual method for accessing the images is a highly manual process where the provided proprietary software running on a Windows PC and the device is plugged into the USB bus. The software is activated and it removes all the images and data from the device and copies them into a folder structure on the PC. The proprietary software may then be used to view the images by date/time and to play them for a given date as a kind of slide-show with a variable speed control.

Data Extraction

Although the provided software is slow, clunky, and only allows access to the image/timestamp data, researchers at Dublin City University’s CLARITY centre have released open source software SenseCam Browser software which can automatically segment the image data, allow labelling, and provide hooks for further research expansion.

Here is a sample of a reasonable good quality image from the device (although many images may appear much blurrier than this if the device is moving while the image is taken):