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CNET First Look
Narrative Clip: the always-on clip-on cameraWanna shoot two photos a minute from your lapel? Narrative Clip wants to be your everyday wearable memory recorder.
-I'm Scott Stein and I'm wearing a camera. Can you see it? Yeah, it's right here. It's the Narrative Clip. It's not that hard to spot, but it's one of a growing wave of wearable cameras that are appearing now that wearable tech seems to be evolving for every part of your body. Narrative clip is not alone. There are other products like the autographer and Sony's life-logging camera concept that are all attempting to kinda do the same thing. A lot of what Google Glass is also trying to do, which is to capture the moments in your life and remember them for you all throughout the day. It could be creepy. It could be inspirational depending on who you are. The idea is based on life-logging and this goes all the way back to Gordon Bell and MyLifeBits and projects that attempted to take all of your memories out of all the distilled bits of data in your life and collect them and allow yu to browse through them. And what that means basically is that this is taking a picture twice every minute. That simple. And it's an automatic process. There's a 5-megapixel camera in here. It's got an accelerometer, magnetometer, and GPS. And it keeps track of the position of the camera. It keeps everything upright. And it collects all of those photos. In a photo quality, it's kind of like an iPhone 4. Nothing high end or fancy. And if you wanna take a manual photo, all you do is you double tap. Now, if you thought Google Glass was potentially invasive, well, it's harder to see this coming. You could wear it on your hat. You could wear it on your sweater. You can wear it on your jacket. I wore it all around town and a lot of times people didn't really even know what it was. But the question was, could I actually capture a picture that would look like anything? Unlike Google Glass where you can aim with a viewfinder, you're kind of on your own here. A little tilt up and down could be all the difference between looking at someone's face or shooting a picture of the clouds or your jacket. And it's pretty hit or miss, but that's kind of the idea because, first of all, you cannot pair the Narrative Clip with your phone. No. Weirdly. Surprisingly. It actually plugs into your computer with micro-USB. You upload the photos to the cloud service the Narrative Clip offers or locally to your hard drive and then there is an app that your phone accesses that if you're connected with that cloud service, pulls all the photos back down for you to browse. Kind of old fashion. Also creates a bit of like a box of chocolates effect because you don't know what you're gonna get any day that you walk around outside. So, if you're looking for something that's really on the go camera kind of like what Luxi and others provide, you're not gonna get that here. It's not gonna be like a Go Pro where you're gonna be able to shoot photos on vacation and know what you're looking at, and that is the idea behind this kick starter-led project because a Swedish company formerly known as MaMOTO that created this to really be low keyed, to not be something you're paying attention to, and not have to micromanage all the time. To its credit, I kept forgetting that I was wearing it. I'd walk around and people would say, what is that on you? And I go, oh yeah, I'm still wearing the camera. And that's the idea to blend in and be invisible, but this is 279 for the privilege of being involved on the Narrative Clip's early days, which is a lot of money for a camera that doesn't really do anything that a lot of point and shoots at the same price would do or fancier smartphone cameras. So, that's also including a year of narrative clip cloud service, but once that runs out, it will cost $9 a month to use that service. That's over $100 a year to keep using the service that makes Narrative Clip potentially interesting. You could just download those photos directly to your hard drive and upload them afterwards to Instagram or Flickr or wherever else you wanna go, Facebook, but what's the point? Because the Narrative Clip service attempts to de-still photos down to moments and it claims that it does it by looking at lighting conditions, image sharpness, even facial recognition, and pulling out moments, but the moments are pretty random. Sometimes it could be a picture of a street. Sometimes it could be your friend eating a donut or it could just be a picture of the ceiling. And you have to wear this all the time and keep recording everything. No. In fact, in the Narrative reviewer's guide and on their website, they recommend that you stop taking photographs at times when it doesn't seem appropriate. All you have to do to do that is put a face down where it automatically turns off or you stick it in your pocket and it won't take pictures anymore. But I kept forgetting to take it off, so odds are you might end up wearing this anyhow wherever you might go. And maybe that's the idea of wearable tech that we've gotta have cameras on us all the time watching everything we do, a panopticon, hopefully not, but Narrative Clip is not gonna be the last of its type out there in the wearable camera space. I'm Scott Stein and that's a look at the Narrative Clip. Available now.