Camera aids with memory loss, Alzheimer's disease

FEBRUARY 8, 2008--Microsoft Research (Cambridge, UK) has developed a wearable camera that keeps a digital record of the events that a person experiences.

FEBRUARY 8, 2008--It is not surprising that photographs act as a memory stimulant--the importance of visual images in memory functioning is well established. Autobiographical memory is thought to be rich in visual imagery. This emphasis on visual memory and the successful role of photographs in memory recall provide a strong indicator for the use of cameras as aids for autobiographical memory. However, traditional still cameras have a number of drawbacks when used as a memory aid.

Microsoft Research (Cambridge, UK) has developed a novel, ubiquitous computing device--a wearable camera that keeps a digital record of the events that a person experiences. The device is called SenseCam because two of the main components of its operation are sensing its environment and using a built-in still camera to record images. The rationale behind SenseCam is that having captured a digital record of an event, it can subsequently be reviewed by the wearer to stimulate their memory.

SenseCam is designed to capture a digital record of the wearer's day, by recording a series of images and capturing a log of sensor data. The nature of the device is to take these recordings automatically, without any user intervention and, therefore, without any conscious effort. Unlike a regular digital camera or a cameraphone, it does not have a view finder or a display that can be used to frame photos. Instead, it is fitted with a wide-angle (fish-eye) lens that maximizes its field of view. This, in turn, means that nearly everything in view of the wearer is captured by the camera.

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