Meet meMINI, a wearable videocamera that’s currently seeking $50,000 in crowdfunding on Kickstarter to help you save the best bits of your daily life for posterity without having to record everything and then edit the footage for highlights.
Wearable life logging cameras are nothing new, even if the idea of walking around with an all-seeing digital eye recording your daily life (and therefore other peoples’ too) still raises eyebrows. Whether it’s GoPro for adrenaline junkies, helmet cams for police or cyclists, or Google Glass for, well, Robert Scoble’s personal shower time, the hardware kit to capture your unique-snowflake first-person perspective on everyday life is already out there.
But — privacy issues aside — there are some problems with existing lifelogging tech. Not least, the too-much-data issue. Those cameras that take a record-it-all approach introduce the tedious and time-consuming problem of sifting and editing the reams of data generated to pull out the gems.
Those bits of hardware where you selectively record your bits and bobs (so to speak), a la Glass, mean you’re inevitably going to miss some cool stuff — i.e. when you don’t manage to shout OK GLASS RECORD THIS SHIZZLE NOW fast enough.
Well meMINI’s makers reckon they have a neat solution to all these problems. Their wearable camera prototype records (and deletes) a continuous video loop until the moment something cool happens. At which point you press a button on the front of the device which tells it to save the last recorded loop — allowing you to capture that cool thing that just happened — just after it happened.
The size of the video loop that meMINI buffers will apparently be configurable to between five seconds or up to five minutes of past time, depending on your preference. The finished product will also include two RAM chips to ensure there’s no disconnect between when you press the record it button and when the hardware can start recording.
Now, depending on your perspective, all of this is either insanely cool, or rocketing off into a dystopian future where we are all inescapably tied to our transgressions, humiliations, failings and faux pas since these events can be forever recalled from the great all-seeing buffer in the CCTV-strewn sky, and replayed ad infinitum (until we are truly, truly sorry).
Mostly, though, meMINI’s awesome/terrifying qualities will depend on how slick its tech is. And, right now, the current prototype is very far from a smooth operator. It’s also rather large and heavy for something you’re supposed to wear on the front of your t-shirt – although its creators say part of the reason they are taking the crowdfunding route is to finesse and “dramatically” miniaturise the tech. (Exactly how small they are hoping it will end up is unclear.)
The protoype also didn’t work as intended when I tested it. And the hardware button on the front felt like it wanted to fall off. Or fall in. But hey, crack open its two plastic halves and meMINI’s messy electronic guts, hacked together with glue and bits of metal, spill out. This is cutting-edge hardware, Kickstarter-style. So really, it’s a bit harsh to judge its creators for taking a DIY development approach.
It is worth noting that we’ve seen this sort of buffer recall ability before — for audio in app form, with the likes of Heard, for instance. And, even more pertinently, in Looxcie, a lifelogging camera with a retroactive recording feature that’s out in the market already.
So MeMINI is not the first mover here. And it’s not planning on shipping its hardware to backers until June — assuming it hits its funding goal (although that’s looking likely with, at the time of writing, more than $35,000 pledged and still 26 days left of its campaign).
MeMINI’s makers are promising a three-hour battery life for their camera, which is an hour longer than the Looxcie 3 will apparently give you. However the meMINI is currently a lot bigger and heavier so that extra juice may well add substantial additional heft to carry around vs the 1.3-ounce, 1.5cm-thin Looxcie.
MeMINI is designed to be attached through your clothing via a magnetic backplate, which doesn’t sit too well with its current size and weight — with the prototype dragging at thinner fabrics (yet the magnet requires fabrics that aren’t too thick to ensure a secure fix). So meMINI’s makers really do need to pull off a dramatic miniaturisation trick for this to be a comfortable wearable for everyday situations.
A smaller and lighter meMINI stuck in the middle of your t-shirt would also probably look less intimidating at the breakfast table, as you film your kids goofing around.
The meMINI will offer 1080p HD video recording, vs the Looxcie 3′s 780p. But it is more expensive, with a early bird Kickstarter backer price-tag of $150 (or $170 thereafter) vs $100 for the Looxcie 3. Plus, you have to wait til June (at the earliest) to get it — giving Looxcie a chance to work on uping the resolution of its range in the meanwhile.
Add to that, the Looxcie 3 is generally more fully featured, with the ability to simultaneously live stream and record content, live-stream directly to Facebook, and snap still photos. But meMINI’s makers look to be focusing on the retroactive recording feature — along with a cloud service that you can opt to save clips to — which isn’t a bad thing in itself.
If they can make a retroactive video camera that’s really simple to operate, with just the one big button to press, that could appeal to more mainstream users.
Judging by the current state of the prototype they do have a way to go to get to ‘effortless operation’, though.