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Biotech Hardware

SenseCam Aids Patients with Memory Problems 78

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the man-i-could-use-that dept.
Ponca City, We Love You writes "A small digital camera developed by Microsoft Research could boost memory in people with dementia and possibly mild forms of Alzheimer's disease. SenseCam is worn around the neck and automatically takes a wide-angle, low-resolution photograph every 30 seconds. It contains an accelerometer to stabilize the image and reduce blurriness, and it can be configured to take pictures in response to changes in movement, temperature, or lighting. An entire day's events can be captured and downloaded onto a PC where software converts the pictures into a short movie displaying the images at up to 10 frames per second, to allow patients to view a day's events in a few minutes to jolt their memory. "Not only does SenseCam allow people to recall memories while they are looking at the images, which in itself is wonderful, but after an initial period of consolidation, it appears to lead to long-term retention of memories over many months, without the need to view the images repeatedly," says neuropsychologist Emma Berry."
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SenseCam Aids Patients with Memory Problems

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  • I think (Score:4, Funny)

    by Martian_Kyo (1161137) on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:31AM (#21642269)
    this image would have been more appropriate for this article http://images.slashdot.org/topics/topicms.gif [slashdot.org]
  • by DrXym (126579) on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:35AM (#21642321)
    Do not believe Teddy's lies.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      >An entire day's events can be captured and downloaded onto a PC where software converts the pictures
      >into a short movie displaying the images at up to 10 frames per second, to allow patients to view a
      >day's events in a few minutes to jolt their memory.

      I think the porn implications of this are obvious. Imagine, playing back every girl you've had? It would take, well, um... ALL day. Yes, all day, even at 10 frames per second. Man, I'd like to view ALL those girls I've had, because I have had SO
  • by garcia (6573) on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:36AM (#21642327) Homepage
    I have something sorta like that. When I was using Gallery along with a shell script out of procmail to do uploads from e-mail to handle my mobile pictures, it would create galleries in the format yyyymmdd and I can usually recall almost to the day what I was doing.

    It's most likely because I would go back through the photos either that day or the next and caption some. This would help to jog my memory and help me recall the dates much later. My friends say I'm an idiot savant (in the most negative connotation possible) but I tell them that I'm just a nerd.
    • by myurr (468709)
      But just think how useful this will be for those who, like me, forget absolutely everything that happens when they go out drinking! And what a cure for beer goggles - think you've met someone you fancy? Managed to get their number? Review the evenings recording and realise the next day that they were one ugly mother... well you get the picture, but now you don't have to meet them a second time to realise just what a mistake you made (you know, the old "hmmm... don't remember them having a beard" thing.)
      • This doesn't work if you're used to taking the girl back to your place. In that inebriated state, the only thing that is really going to get your attention is the ballsack pressing against your chin, but by that point, it's already too late.

        But at least you'll have pics!
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      If you like to organize your photos by when they were taken, check out Dropshots [dropshots.com]. It has greatly simplified my photo organizing. Just drag-and-drop your photos from explorer to their handy little system tray app, an all your photos get uploaded and sorted by day.
  • Loss of connections (Score:5, Informative)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:37AM (#21642343)
    The problem of memory in Alzheimer patients (at least at the early stages) is not one of forgetfulness, so much, but the loss of context due to the loss of connections between two situations. A patient could sit down with a lunch tray at the hospital cafeteria when a nurse walks in the door and the patient would suddenly be unclear as to why they were in the cafeteria in the first place. Oliver Sacks discusses this quite a bit in his books. By taking the patient through the series of events, leaving out the extraneous information like the nurse walking in, it is possible to reconnect the events for the patient and they will typically be able to regain their "memory".

    Now, if deodorant makers would simply stop using Aluminum oxide in their products, we could probably cut the number of Alzheimer cases in half, but it's no big surprise that the makers of those products are also the ones making the drugs to treat the disease.
    • by Sen.NullProcPntr (855073) on Monday December 10, 2007 @11:27AM (#21643149)

      Now, if deodorant makers would simply stop using Aluminum oxide in their products, we could probably cut the number of Alzheimer cases in half, but it's no big surprise that the makers of those products are also the ones making the drugs to treat the disease.
      Not sure about the conspiracy connection;-) While aluminum can cause memory related problems most research [ccohs.ca] has not found [cdc.gov] any direct link with Alzheimer's.

      Aluminum can be found in many other products that come in contact with our bodies [viewzone.com], even tap water.
    • by MickLinux (579158)
      I'd think it also would have to do with some loss of spatial memory or intelligence, because I remember reading that one of the early warning Alzhimer's tests was to give the patient a series of circles, with a time written underneath. Then let the patient draw the appropriate clock faces. Alzhimer's patients -- even those otherwise undetectable -- would mess the clocks up extrememly badly.
  • The whole "upload the day to the PC" part seems a bit contrived. Why can't you just watch this life movie wherever you are?
    • by ch-chuck (9622)
      Wonder if users will be allowed to wear them to a movie theater.

    • Plus the act itself is pretty complicated for someone who can't even remember if they ate lunch that day. I suspect that this is going to end with the nurse finding the computer in the freezer and grandma trying to plug in her camera to a carton of ice cream.
    • by Sockatume (732728)
      I can't help but wonder if this is their way of finding a use for, or kickstarting, the MyLifeBits [wikipedia.org] project. Originally (back when it was first publicised half a decade ago) it was going to be a way to store your whole life on a computer. Evidently that didn't really go anywhere.
    • Read again carefully the /. summary.

      Why can't you just watch this life movie wherever you are?

      Because they're microsoft.

      So they can claim more copies of Vista Sold (because more people will have to install Vista on their machine to use this gadget)
      And probably the technology will require that the patient's family gets equipped with "Windows Vista Home Server".
      Maybe also a couple of server license sold to the Care center.

      And I'm sure they'll manage to cram "Xbox" somewhat into the requirement.

      Probably the on

    • by mh1997 (1065630)

      Why can't you just watch this life movie wherever you are?
      What movie and why is this camera hanging down from my neck?
  • Memento (Score:2, Funny)

    by Renegade88 (874837)
    The guy from Memento [imdb.com] could have used this! Even using Microsoft products has to be less painful than constantly tatooing yourself.
    • by MrEricSir (398214)
      If you don't remember the pain, does it really matter?

      At least tattoos don't BSOD on you.
  • Rehash? (Score:2, Funny)

    by ah.clem (147626)
    Isn't this just a rehash of the MS "Lifecam" or some trendy name like that? IIRC, we were all supposed to be wearing this thing around our necks and not bothering to remember anything anymore, the camera would keep a "life record" or some such.

    Wasn't that a fail? I can't remember...

    ah.clem
  • by mrjb (547783) on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:43AM (#21642443)
    Supposedly the problem is not that memory itself fails, but often we cannot remember things because we didn't "register" them properly. Which also explains after-party blackouts, of course.
  • What? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ByOhTek (1181381) on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:47AM (#21642499) Journal
    It seems I've seen this on /. in the last couple of weeks (maybe not the same article, but the same MS camera thing). It was tagged "biotech" then too.

    This is not biotech any more than the mouse on your computer is biotech or the shirt on your back is biotech.

    Also, what's the point of repeatedly posting this? Not only has it been on in the last week or two, but it's been posted once or twice before that, at least.

    Great, MS is putting small cameras on people to help them remember and associate memories.
    • It seems I've seen this on /. in the last couple of weeks (maybe not the same article, but the same MS camera thing). It was tagged "biotech" then too.

      It's the Slashdot editors own version of this memory product. They repeat every story at least once so that even those of us with permanently shot memories can remember them.

  • Sure, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MykeBNY (303290) on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:48AM (#21642515)
    That's great and all, that technology is being used to help people.

    But I have to wonder, now, how people with cameras around their necks will be treated. Will they be arrested as terrorists for taking pictures of busy streets and important bridges? Will they be barred from entering many businesses who have a "no pictures" policy? If they witness a crime, will they be hassled to give up their helpful device for evidence? Or worse yet, be a higher-risk target for the bad guys wanting to make sure that evidence is destroyed?

    Furthermore, where does their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness end and my right to privacy begin? I don't like being monitored without my knowledge/permission.

    On the other hand, integrate a GPS and a voluntary program, and they could earn extra income from Google Streets for getting updated street-level pictures of cities... ;)
    • by addps4cat (216499)
      if it gets fda approval to treat alzhheimers it will probably be protected like seeing eye dogs are
  • by Delusion_ (56114) on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:49AM (#21642535) Homepage

    SenseCam is worn around the neck and automatically takes a wide-angle, low-resolution photograph every 30 seconds.
    Excellent! Now Grandma can take crappy photos nearly as often as drunk girls at bars do with their cellphones.
  • Now, if only I could find where I put my keys.
  • respect (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Errtu76 (776778) on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:56AM (#21642659) Journal
    I don't care what company you are and what products you normally sell. If you can create something as useful as this, you deserve respect. Well done!

    I quickly scanned the article, but i couldn't find a built-in lcd. That would've been perfect, although i can assume the power comsumption would be too heavy and you'll end up losing half a day because of it. *shrug* Wonderful device though.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Frosty Piss (770223)

      I don't care what company you are and what products you normally sell. If you can create something as useful as this, you deserve respect. Well done!

      It's a Web cam you ware around your neck. This is "innovation"? Don't misunderstand me, I'm not an MS basher, I've run XP as my desktop since it came out, have no major problems with it, and have only recently considered possibly a used Apple G4. But this is pretty thin on the "innovation" thing.

      On the other hand, maybe Google can have people walk around town

      • Innovation is not necessarily new technology, it can also be new uses for old technology. While 640x480 digital cameras may not be innovative, attaching accelerometers to them and strapping them to people's necks to gather time-lapse video is! I don't have any -- serious -- memory problems and I would love one just to be able to go back at the end of the week and review. I say great product!
    • the power comsumption would be too heavy and you'll end up losing half a day because of it.
      I lost several days once, but it wasn't down to power consumption.
  • The problem is, if you take a picture every 30 sec all day in public places, then you could be a witness to crime or crimes. Thus you might have evidence of a crime in those pictures. If you have something that might or might not be evidence of a crime, you can destroy that in good faith. There is nothing wrong in shredding paper documents or throwing away audio tapes etc. Only if you destroy it knowingly to conceal a crime, it is felony obstruction of justice.

    But, there was a new twist, with the Sorbanes

  • Interesting (Score:4, Interesting)

    by inKubus (199753) on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:59AM (#21642693) Homepage Journal
    I could see how you could use this in school, to capture a lecture in a very basic form. Then you can run through 1 minute of audio around the time each picture was taken (say every 5 minutes) and review a 50 minute lecture in 10 minutes. Of course it's possible to record all the audio (the snippet function would be in software), so if you came to a spot that you needed to fully review, you could listen to all the audio of the section. I think that if dementia patients could benefit from this then everyone can.

    It might be useful to add some additional information, such as geocoordinates, to the recordings also. Then you could "tag" your regular locations (such as the lecture hall, etc), and set up rules to automatically download and save to certain categories in the database, based on the location you were at when they recorded. So, for instance, you could set up a rule that all recordings at the coordinates of Lecture Hall One should be saved to "Physics Lectures", and all recordings at the coordinates of Lecture Hall Two go to "Accounting Lectures". It's going to need to be automatic if people are going to use it.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Monday December 10, 2007 @11:01AM (#21642723) Journal
    In many countries, like Japan, there is a law that says whenever a picture is taken using a digital camera a loud and distinct click must be sounded. This was because people were snapping surreptitious pictures of other people of a particular gender from very peculiar angles and there was a public outcry. So should this camera on the lanyard sound click every 30 seconds?
    • So in Japan do digital camcorders sound like jackhammers?
      click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click............
  • Or your picture may just resemble the blue screen of death!
  • It contains an accelerometer to stabilize the image and reduce blurriness

    Canon uses gyroscopes to change the angle of one of the elements inside the IS series lenses in order to compensate for camera shake, allowing the photographer to slow the shutter by one or two stops more than a non-IS equipped lens (1/20th instead of 1/80th, ect...). Other manufacturers move the camera's sensor in much the same fashion to accomplish the same image stabilization effect.

    How is an accelerometer in a low resolution, wide angle camera going to accomplish counteracting camera shake? Any insi

    • Presumably there is still some moving of either the lens or the sensor. The Accelerometer would just replace the gyroscope to get feedback on what movement is necessary. Accelerometers are very small and cheap these days.
  • Damn... (Score:3, Funny)

    by carndearg (696084) on Monday December 10, 2007 @11:06AM (#21642783) Homepage Journal
    ...Now all the user has to do is remember to charge the thing every day.
  • To be able to remember what a persone did during the day, (s)he would still have to remember to wear the camera in the morning.
  • See http://www.mr-lee-catcam.de/ [mr-lee-catcam.de]. It's fun to see a good idea turned into another good idea.
  • Reminds me of that whole sousveillance thing that was hot about a year ago. Though of course, the intent is different. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sousveillance [wikipedia.org]
  • This bears an eerie resemblance to the movie Final Cut [imdb.com]. From the IMDB plot summary:

    The story is set in a world where implanted microchips can record all moments of an individual's life. The chips are removed upon death so the images can be edited into something of a highlight reel for loved ones who want to remember the deceased.

    Not nearly the same, admittedly, but I couldn't help but be reminded.

  • The idea of a full visual record of one's life has been around for many years. Here's one of the pioneers:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Mann [wikipedia.org]

    I don't see what Microsoft actually contributed to this work.
  • I use TimeSnapper [timesnapper.com] to do this for my computer usage on Windows. It takes a snapshot (across multiple desktops) at a user-defined interval, and can play the resulting images back as a time-lapse. Extremely useful if you need to figure out what you were doing last Tuesday, or forget where the day went. There's a free version (for non-commercial use) and a paid one with more features. Yeah, it's not a camera--but like many of us, I spend more time most days sitting in front of a computer than talking to peo
  • A few technologists are recording 100% of their waking lives on video, but maybe this one percent solution might be adequate for most of the time.
    Then I might be able to remember what I ate for breakfast yeseterday!
  • As much as I don't like Microsoft, I'd actually like to have one. I've always wanted to be able to record my life (apparently, I don't remember a few family trips that everyone else remembers), and go back to any day. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like it is available to the public. Has anyone seen anything similar that is available?
  • Old people with dementia find a change of routine remarkably debilitating. Even minor changes of routine. The solution is not to try keeping their world the way it was, the solution is to make them comfortable with their new world.

    That involves deep immersion in routine ("the rut is your friend"), simplification of process, and acknowledging that their world *will* shrink as their sphere of competence decreases... that that this is a *good* thing, not a bad thing. Better for them to have a small world in wh
  • by roc97007 (608802)

    I'm not sure why the extra step of downloading to a PC. It wouldn't be hard to put a screen on the other side of the device, like most digital snapshot cameras currently have, and view the movie there. Sure, the device would cost more, but not nearly as much as a PC and Vista license. (Or even XP license.)

    I suppose one could say that "most people have a PC", but the people I know of with dementia either aren't computer-savvy or have lost the knack. To be really useful, it should be self-contained, ea

  • Just imagine the amount damage a hacker could do, planting false images to lead a person to believe or do something that they wouldn't otherwise then erasing the evidence afterwards.
  • This is big news... you might say: well at least they are helping the same people they drove insane... but no, how do you think the software REALLY behaves? It Mixes photograms with different patients, randomly inserts blue screens of death in movies and as the camera shuts down unexpectedly it turns out that you loose a lot of frames per day... so you never know if it is working or you just get insanely mad... nice way to go Microsoft!!!!

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