Jaded tech press and armchair pundits sniffed this year that International CES is a waste of time, no longer needed. But if you knew where and how to look, you could see the future of human memory and communication staring you right in the face.
Lifelogging and lifestreaming have been around for years, but as a niche realm of computing.
Lifelogging is when you use technology to capture events, documents and experiences and keep them in a chronological timeline.
Lifestreaming is similar in that you capture everything, but for the purpose of sharing the details of your life with other people.
Lifelogging is keeping everything; lifestreaming is sharing everything.
Both lifelogging and lifestreaming have lived on the fringes because the payoff never seemed worth the effort.
If this year's International CES is any indication, it looks like lifelogging and lifestreaming is about to get a lot easier thanks to two other buzzwordy trends: wearable computing and the quantified self.
The Core is a sensor that fits in a wristband. When you wear it, the Core tracks the steps you take and the sleep you get. (It also provides benefits unrelated to sensing, such as blinking-light and vibration smartphone notifications.)
Because the Core is a tiny, removable sensor, it's easy to speculate that Sony and other companies could make all kinds of devices to use with it -- fitness bands, smartphone cases, necklaces, shoe clips -- even as Sony adds more features to the Core over time.
But the real magic is in a smartphone lifelogging app that comes with the Core. That's where you can see the data gathered by the device. But the app also monitors other things, such as the music you listen to, the social networking you do and the calls you make.
The app is tracking both your physical state and smartphone interaction over time, and telling you at the end of the day what you did all day. You can also press a button to record a "life bookmark" and your entire situation will be captured and can be recalled later in the app.
If you kept a diary or journal, you might write: "Dear diary: I woke up late today and went for a bike ride (It's Sunday, after all!). Then I listened to some podcasts while cleaning up around the house. I had lunch with Janet, and came home and took a nap. I spent some time catching up on email and Facebook, then watched a movie. I felt kind of under the weather today."
The Sony Core should be able to write this journal entry for you (it doesn't write journal entries, but it records the same information and for the same reason).
The Core probably won't be a great product for the masses right away, but it represents the future of something incredible. It combines lifelogging (capturing everything) with wearable computing (fits into a notifications bracelet) and performs quantified self functions (monitors your biological status).
Now imagine a few years of improvements in sensor technology, miniaturization, increased compute power and more powerful phones and apps and it will be easy to keep a detailed record of everything you do and everything that's happening with your mind and body. And you'll be able to annotate it with voice or text.
That memoir will practically write itself.