SenseCam Seems To Help Dementia Patients

The SenseCam is a digital camera developed by Microsoft; it hangs around your neck and takes pictures of what you are seeing throughout the course of the day. The device was first introduced in 2004; more details about it are found in the previous article SenseCam Camera: Your Personal Black Box.


(The Microsoft SenseCam personal life events camera)

Results reported recently include the following anecdote; one woman who could only remember 2% of events from any given week could recall 80% of major events that occurred over a six week period when she reviewed the SenseCam's images for an hour every two days.

"Not only does SenseCam allow people to recall memories while they are looking at the images, which in itself is wonderful, but after an initial period of consolidation, it appears to lead to long-term retention of memories over many months, without the need to view the images repeatedly," says Emma Berry, a neuropsychologist who works as a consultant to Microsoft.

Science fiction fans might compare this device to the Psypyx from John Barnes' 1998 novel Earth Made of Glass; it recorded mental impressions.

More recently, I ran across this same idea in Charles Stross' excellent 2007 novel Halting State, which refers to the idea of a lifelog.

You shake your head and climb out of the car, tapping your ear-piece to tell your phone to listen up: "Arriving on SOC, time-stamp now. Start evidence log." It's logging anyway - everything you see on duty goes into the black box - but the voice marker is searchable. It saves the event from getting lost in your lifelog.

It would be fun to combine the SenseCam with the Self-contained motion capture suits created by Rolf Adelsberger; that way, you could not only tell what you were looking at, you could tell how you were sitting, standing or walking when the picture was taken.

Update 13-Dec-2007: See also this reference to the alibi-archive from Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer, contributed by Chris Johnston. End update.

Update 28-Oct-2009: The life recorder from Roger Zelazny's 1966 novel The Dream Master is an earlier reference to this idea in sf. End update.

From A Camera to Help Dementia Patients.

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