Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

How One Person Captured 10,000 Photos at SXSW

Most of us are hitting our numbers if we produce a handful of sepia-toned Instagrams throughout a conference.

Not Oskar Kalmaru, the Swedish co-founder of the Memoto life-blogging camera. Kalmaru and the company’s CEO, Martin Kallstrom, brought the tiny device with them to Austin and have been taking a photo every 30 seconds since last Thursday.

This wearable square device got its early buzz late last year, when it hit crowdfunding site Kickstarter. The five-megapixel, eight gigabyte camera has a two-day battery, an accelerometer, a compass and built-in GPS.

Memoto raised more than $550,000 through Kickstarter to fund production of the $279 camera. It is currently set to ship at the end of April or early May. It’s being manufactured in Taiwan, after early samples were made in Stockholm.

When I asked Kalmaru today how many SXSW photos he now has stored on his laptop, he said it was around 10,000, which would take up 14 gigabytes of memory (Kalmaru cleared the camera during the festival).

Considering the frequency of shots, plenty of these were off-center, blurry, dark or black photos. Others were cool images of SXSWers crossing Sixth Street in Austin, with the sun bouncing off buildings and crisp blue skies in the background.

That’s where the Memoto software comes in, Kalmaru says: The subscription-based, photo-storage service smartly organizes your photos in a timeline, and chooses the best photo from a moment or an event. Tapping on that photo in the Memoto mobile app will reveal the collective photos from that event, but they’re not all cluttering your feed.

But Memoto could also face a privacy firestorm when the wearable camera does come on the market. One of the use cases Kalmaru gave me for the camera was meeting your significant other for the first time. Most people don’t have a memento or photo from this event; with this camera, you could. A better use case for the camera might be when you lean over to look at your new child for the first time, or when you’re on vacation and seeing a new landscape.

However, it’s hard to imagine a person you’ve just met would be comfortable with their photo being taken every 30 seconds. It could be terribly obtrusive during business meetings. And I’m guessing even friends you know really well would sometimes ask that you ditch the camera.

Kalmaru said Memoto has carefully considered this and has made the camera “pretty visible,” despite its small size. “We didn’t design it like it was some sort of spy camera. That was really important for us,” he said.

He also said the final version of the camera — which currently doesn’t have an on/off button — will turn off when you place the Memoto face down.

Which might be a good thing to do as you’re headed into the bathroom.

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— Gitesh Pandya of comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”