Life through a lens

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There are certain moments in life that we want to remember forever – and a fair few we’d rather forget.  Inevitably, as we grow older, our brains get a little rusty and even our most cherished moments fade.

But advancing technology may mean we can hang on to those images for ever. Dr Cathal Gurrin, a lecturer at Dublin City University’s School of Computing, is leading research into a new phenomenon known as ‘lifelogging’. 

If thoughts of ‘The Truman Show’ automatically spring to mind, you wouldn’t be far off. Dr Gurrin wears a small SenseCam around his neck everyday which automatically takes around three snapshots per minute through a fisheye lens. The images are then uploaded to a server and stored in a digital archive.

What began as a two-week experiment has now turned into pioneering research between Dr Gurrin and cognitive psychologists at the University of Leeds, who are looking into how our brains process memories. The overall aim of the experiment is to create a ‘perfect digital memory’ and they hope to have the first memory search engine ready by the end of the year.

Though the concept of creating a ‘digital memory’ is, in itself, truly fascinating, do we want to become a society that stores all of our daily activities in order to share them with others further down the line? You can see how lifelogging will become as voyeuristically addictive as Facebook or Twitter, especially if celebrities have got anything to do with it!

Lifelogging has perhaps already started with camera apps such as Instagram, which allows users to upload photos from their smartphones and follow others to view their photo feeds. It’s another impressive development in the world of technology – but is it also a little too close to Orwell’s dystopian 1984?