Lifelogging: the recording device

by gwern1 min read15th Oct 201032 comments


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The old idea of lifelogging seems to be a reality now. It has the potential to be quite useful, and not just in distant contrived scenarios like cryonics or being recreated by an AI.

One of the classic objections was that we couldn’t afford to store the many gigabytes - possibly hundreds of gigabytes a year! - such a practice would generate, but right now you can buy 1 terabyte for <$50. And there’s no end in sight to whatever Moore’s law has been governing hard-drives over the past decade or two.

But how is one to record it? That seems to be the rub. All the storage space we could want, all sorts of new formats like WebM or Dirac or x264 to store the videos in - but what camera generates the data in the first place?

We don’t care about sleep time, so we don’t need any more than 16 hours or so of recording a day. We can probably get away with 12. Even 8 might be enough (to record yourself on the job - or off). An encoded compressed video might be 1 megabyte a minute or 60 megabytes an hour, but let’s be generous and assume 15x worse than that, or about 1 gigabyte an hour. So perhaps 16 gigabytes.

16 gigabytes of Flash costs $40 or less. So that’s not an issue either.

And presumably optics and microprocessors are very cheap given the incredible popularity of web cameras, digital cameras, digital camcorders and whatnot over the last decade.

But for all that, I can’t seem to find a mini-camcorder which will record even 8 hours and be a useful lifelogger!

  • Looxcie costs an absurd $200, and has no more than 4 hours battery life
  • Flip MinoHD costs a far more reasonable $70 but only gets 2 hours of battery life; the other Flips do little better
  • the IRDC250 uCorder is $90, possibly better video than the Looxcie, and perfect - except for its 2 hour battery life
  • the Video Clipper is similar to the uCorder but claims better battery life & to be just $44

Am I wrong? Are there existing products? It seems to me that it ought to be perfectly possible to take something like the uCorder, slap in $110 of batteries, and get it up to 8 or 12 hours’ life. But I have yet to find such a thing.

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