How to design a small wearable camera that should be worn on the body and take pictures of every moment?
Perfect balance between physical and digital, honest and discreet, crafted and electronic.
This “life logging camera” is continuously taking pictures of a persons entire life. We needed to solve that not only physically with a good clip solution, but also emotionally. Having a camera that takes pictures of everything means it can not be too hidden or disguised or it would be a spy cam. At the same time it shouldn’t ask for so much attention that it would interrupt the users in their lives. They need to keep their natural flow, and the camera needs the right expression.
We have been advising Memoto around everything from good material usage to clever recycling services, and will continue to do so throughout the production process.
The full story
Memoto, a Stockholm based start-up had a great idea: to make your entire life searchable through images. The electrical components have just recently become small and efficient enough to make a product that could be worn all day every day without feeling heavy, and take two pictures every minute of situations you otherwise would have missed capturing. Through an App the user automatically gets presented of the different situations in a nice and clever time line, so that one would never have to feel a stress about the amount of images. It currently captures the image, the time and the place, but potentially in coming versions many other kinds of data so that you can re-experience things like what music you heard in different places, how often people smile at you, or what the weather is like on Tuesdays…
Being a both innovative and bit controversial, this product needed a balance between a number of important aspects.
Integrity vs. Honesty
A Memoto is taking pictures of people in its surrounding, and everyone might not want to end up in pictures. This is an aspect of this product that was dealt with on many levels, but when it comes to the physical design, we wanted to show that the product was a camera, hence we placed the lens hole in a way that reminds of the way smart phones place cameras. Also the detail around the lens is made with camera heritage in mind. However, if the camera was too much like a big camera lens, the users would feel uneasy wearing it. We did user sessions to evaluate some different design expressions half way through the project.
Crafted vs. Electronic
Being worn all the time, this product is in its usage much closer to an accessory, a wrist watch or necklace type of thing than a conventional digital camera. Since the value proposition is for everyone (remember the stuff you would otherwise forget), not only the tech-savvy it was also important not to make a too gadgety design. However, if disguised into a piece of jewellery it would loose the identity of a smart electronic product. The final way to go was to make a really simple, high quality solid brick of plastic with a good old spring steel clip. Not too shiny, not too flashy, absolutely no blue blinking lights. Our approach was pure functionalism.
Physical vs. digital
Actually the main value for the users does not appear in the physical product, but in reliving their favourite moments in the digital world, in the App. Acknowledging this, we wanted the design to express “a physical version of the App” rather than “a product with an App attached to it”. We ended up defining our final design outline with inspiration from an application symbol in smart phones, we called it a “wearable App”. Doing this we are trying to bridge the gap between physical and digital, creating one coherent experience.
Flexible vs. dedicated
We realised that people using this product would wear completely different outfits. We tried many clippings, hangers, magnets and modular exchangeable little ecosystems. In the end, through testing and evaluations we came to the conclusion that a single durable spring steel clip would be the most simple yet versatile solution. This, together with a product without a clear up or down direction enables people to clip it any way they want.
What’s the status
This product is currently getting crowd funded beyond all expectations on Kickstarter.com. We will continue to support Memoto through their production phase in order to maintain the design intention and to achieve the best possible quality when it comes out in the spring.