A prominent keyword in the world of tech is “lifelogging”. Simply, its the process of documenting your entire life, or a large portion of it, through the use of wearable technology. Nothing is sacred: Facebook posts, the gym, or food. It can be a photographic record of everyday things or a measure of how far a person ran in a workout.
Despite the influence it has on modern society, some believe that lifelogging has spent much of its focus gathering information. Psychologist Steve Whittaker of the University of California, Santa Cruz, is one of the more vocal critics, having studied the field for eight years. “I’m fed up with the idea that it’s enough to just record stuff. It’s log first, applications after. We should be moving into a new phase where you try and see what the point of having all that data would be.”
Whittaker’s prayers are being answered by several firms and research projects. In particular, Trov, a startup from San Ramon, California, is building a digital locker for recording possessions – allowing for management in the same way our e-mails, music, photos and documents are managed through the Internet.
Jim Gemmell, Trov’s chief technology officer, had visualized logging every detail of our interactions, whether it is with our house, car, or collectibles. Gemmell reckons that this will give us more flexibility with how we use them.
Trov is at the starting phase, providing customers with a way of logging their possessions and receiving discounted insurance premiums. Meanwhile, Gemmell is focused on bigger plans, “Imagine posting to eBay in one click. If I have all my stuff in cyberspace, it’s ready for me to manipulate it.”
The firm is also partnered with lending companies so users can acquire loans simply by offering up digital records on their belongings as collateral. Trov might end up as a sort of digital pawnshop.
As Trov continues to grow, Gemmell sees potential in allowing users to digitize their car’s service record. Trov would automatically update a mechanic as the car pulls into a repair shop, displaying the last time the car was serviced, and how hard it has been driven since.
Whittaker sees importance in the services giving their customers full control over their data. Something Trov promises to do, while car insurance company Progressive does not.
Progressive has been experimenting with recording drivers’ habits for over a decade, and in 2011 the company rolled out its Snapshot programme. This program is part of a device plugged into a car’s diagnostic port and records driving information, which is then reported back to Progressive.
It begs the question that would surely be in the mind of the customer: “Is the value of what I’m revealing worth the service I’m receiving?”. The situation then becomes one of unequal trade, with corporations having undue levels of control over people’s private decisions.
If pitfalls such as this can be missed, then the potential will be staggering, with accurate records of the past being used to discover the future.