Author(s): George Jijiashvili
At an event last month, Google unveiled a range of smart devices. As expected, its new Pixel smartphones and Google Home smart speakers were the stars of the show. But one product announcement that stood out to me was its new wearable camera, Clips. It's a small attachable camera without a display. It features a wide-angle lens and uses artificial intelligence to automatically capture photographs and short videos.
The announcement seems like a throwback to the now-forgotten lifelogging device category. In 2013, some start-ups, most notably Narrative and OMG Life, saw potential in this emerging category and released their Narrative Clip and Autographer cameras, respectively.
At the time, as I reflected on my experience with the Autographer, I noted that despite boasting good hardware including an accelerometer, light meters and GPS, its self-professed on-board intelligence and the resulting photos proved disappointing (see A Day in Pictures). Lifelogging as a device category failed to expand beyond an extremely niche following and by the end of 2016, both Narrative and OMG Life ceased operations.
Narrative Clip and Autographer
The promise of automatically capturing life's best moments without the need to look at a camera's viewfinder or a smartphone screen has been touted many times before, mostly by now-defunct companies. However, Google is determined to achieve this vision with its Clips camera.
During the announcement, Google was quick to address privacy concerns, which have always been a big point of contention in the wearable cameras category. A blinking LED light indicates that the camera is taking photos or filming. All of its processes are done locally, including face recognition, and until the user initiates the transfer, no data is automatically uploaded to Google's cloud.
Google Clips will be priced at $249, higher than the $199 launch price of the Narrative Clip 2, but much lower than the $400 Autographer. The device will offer three-hour battery life and will initially only pair with certain iPhone, Samsung and Pixel phones. Google has not yet revealed the release date.
In my view, Google is one of the few companies that could deliver the original promise of lifelogging cameras, thanks to its unmatched expertise in artificial intelligence. I'm certain that Clips will offer a major improvement on other lifelogging devices to date. Although it's unlikely that the camera will become a mass-market product, it will be enthusiastically welcomed by a small consumer segment interested in such devices.