Wearable Cameras : Capture great moments with ease

If you are one of those people who lament the overload of images and information on social media, things just might get far worse for you.  The influx of smartphone cameras with megapixels higher than or as high as other digital cameras out there has led to a barrage of photos on social media sites.  The photos could be of someone doing something stupid, of roadkill or of your friend’s dinner.  Not everything is pretty and we all have seen a few that are not only cringe-worthy, but also downright inappropriate.  So what can we expect now that wearable cameras are being introduced into the market?

Wearable cameras are simply “always on” cameras that you can wear on your wrist, helmet, eyeglasses, ear, or even as a pendant on your necklace.  You could even let your dog wear it and find out who Fifi has been socializing with at the park when you are not there to walk her.

Logging your life with pictures

The concept is to wear the camera so that you could log your life.  It is the ultimate form of self-love.  The idea is to wear the camera and tap it when you want to capture a moment.  Or moments, as the camera can snap a photo every 30 seconds.


For instance, there is the Narrative Clip wearable camera.  It only weighs less than an ounce and measures less than 1.5 inches all around and is only 0.35 inch thick.  That is how small and light it is.  You clip on your Narrative camera and double tap it to capture special moments.  The 5-megapixel camera can easily capture 4,000 images over two days before you would need to recharge.  What’s more, you can easily upload your images to the cloud or transfer your pictures to your computer.  You can also manage, organize and view your pictures using mobile apps for Android and iPhone.

The mobile apps can also help you organize your photos using a proprietary “momentification” technology that lets you make sense of thousands of photos.  It can also figure out your best photos and show them on your timeline.  You can also view your photos as a time lapsed slideshow or individually.  But what’s more important is that it allows you to share your photos with your friends on social networks. Narrative Clip comes in three colors: white, gray and orange.  It is available for $279.

You might think that it is weird to have Big Brother on your clothes taking photos of strangers or of you cutting your toenails or perhaps some private moments that most people would rather not see.  But think about this: Narrative is actually a Kickstarter campaign once called Memoto.com.  The campaign saw more than 2,800 backers racking up a total of more than $550,000 worth of pledges.  Not bad considering that the company initially asked for just $50,000.

A total of 1,472 pledged less than $249, some 1,300 pledged anywhere from $249 to close to $5,000, while 1 pledged at least $5,000.  Not bad, really.

Mind you, lifelogging is not really a new concept.  We have seen it used in fitness trackers, where you can record the number of steps you have made or the distance you have traveled, among other things.  With wearable cameras, however, you get photos instead of simple numbers on your device.

Photographic memory, redefined

While some of us are blessed with photographic memory, most people do not have the ability to remember every detail of everything we see.  But now with wearable cameras, everyone can opt to have photographic memory in the most literal sense.  You can now remember each detail, even the most mundane events in your life.  Breakfast with the wife?  Strolling in the park with kids?  You could easily document them, much like how you keep albums and albums of birthday celebrations and holidays.

For sports and active life

Panasonic recently introduced the Panasonic HX-A500, which allows you to record videos with standard frames and slow motion.  You can get the best quality video at 1920 x 1080 pixels at 50 frames per second right down to 848 x 480 pixels at 200 frames per second.  That means that you can film the action no matter how quick it happened!  What’s more, you can broadcast your videos on Ustream even in real time.  The HX-A500 has a body, which you wear around your arm and a lens that you wear over the ear.  You will be able to see a playback of your video on the small 1.5 inch LCD monitor or you can pair the camera with your tablet or smartphone via NFC and Wi-Fi so you could edit it.  Other features include Level Shot and EIS image stabilization.  It is also waterproof and weighs only 31 grams!  So go ahead, get on your skateboard or skis and film the action!

autographerAnother wearable camera suited for sports and active lifestyle is Autographer (a.k.a. “The world’s first wearable camera.”). It also comes with its own smartphone app that allows you to view and share your images.  You can also use the app to check on your memory and battery status.

Aside from the app, you have a desktop software that allows you to view, edit and share your photos.  You can view it in an endless stream, by day, or a full-screen slideshow mode.  All sensor data is provided for you, giving you location, light levels and temperature readings with your photograph.

For those unexpected moments

Of course, not every moment that is worth capturing comes with a warning.  So you will appreciate the Autographer.  The Autographer allows you to capture moments without touching it, and even spontaneously.  It has a 130-degree eye view lens, a GPS sensor and five other sensors.  Combined with a complex algorithm, these sensors — magnetometer, passive infrared, temperature, accelerometer, ambient light — work together to figure out if they should prompt the camera to take a picture or not.  Also, the sensors allow you to record the other details about the photo.

This is as intelligent as a wearable camera gets.  The Autographer takes photos every time the sensors tell it that your environment has changed and could very well take into consideration your interactions with friends and your surroundings. A single charge can last for 10 hours.  Autographer is now available for $399 in the United States.

While both of these wearable cameras are on the expensive side, there are cheaper options.  Check out the Looxcie 3.  For less than $100, you can own the Looxcie 3, which allows you to stream your videos right to Facebook and your friends’ mobile devices.  You can record your videos in high definition and snap great photos.  You can clip it on your bull caps, or mount it on your motorcycles, bikes, surfboard, windshield or helmets.

goproSimilarly, a GoPro HERO3 wearable camera can go for less than $200.  You can just buy mounts that allow you to safely wear it.  You can strap it to your head, to your chest, or you can buy helmets where you could mount these cameras.

Privacy and being a jerk or a creep

The thing with a wearable camera is that it is pointed at other people, not at you.  There is always a risk of running into some privacy issues.  Some products out there are good to use as spy cams.  You would not know it is a camera, it is small enough not to be noticed and it can take photos continuously without having you touch it or do anything.  It does not even make a sound.  The Narrative Clip is one such wearable camera.  It can take photos of people on the train or on the other side of the table without them even knowing it.

Some products, however, are more respectful of other people’s privacy.  The Autographer, for example, literally announces itself as a camera.  It has a yellow circle around its lens, it comes with a rotating cover that allows you to know if the lens is open or not and it emits a blue light when taking pictures.  The fisheye lens also ensures that you cannot take a head-on photo of somebody’s face unless you get very close to their faces.

VieVu2Also, the thing with wearable cameras is that it is like having somebody remember things for you.  The moments they capture are not necessarily the ones you choose to remember.  Unlike the traditional camera or your smartphone camera where you are in control of the pictures it snaps, these automatic cameras are indiscriminate and random.  What’s more, who has time to actually go through hundreds or thousands of pictures, a majority of these blurred or not worth keeping at all?

Still, wearable cameras are not going away soon.  More and more people will be looking for a way to document every waking moment of their lives, not just for vanity reasons.  Some would want to keep those pictures of even the most unexciting things that they do so that they have something to look at months and years into the future.  Already, there are other use cases for the wearable camera.  For one, it fulfills your fantasy of being James Bond with its approximation of spy cameras.  It could also enhance your personal safety and security, such as VieVu2 and Ambarella A7LW.