I understand the problem LensBricks, a startup company that graduated from the Highway 1 hardware accelerator this month, is trying to solve. After all, I am the one in the family who took all the candid photos as my children grew up; the rare photo I’m actually in was one in which I grabbed a kid, handed a camera to someone, and instructed them to take a picture. They’re not exactly the magic moments. And yes, there are a lot of moments I wished I’d captured, both the classic—first steps—and the only cute in retrospect—tantrums over the silliest problems.
But there are also a lot of moments of family life I’m probably better off not replaying—or perhaps not even knowing about.
That’s why LensBricks' Vidalife camera system has me scratching my head. It’s a friendly looking gadget, containing a video camera and built in smarts that help it sort snippets of video it records and select “interesting moments” to keep. Cofounder Raji Kannan says the system learns who the people and pets are in a household, and prioritizes interactions between people, or people and pets, and moments of high activity and sound. (I’m guessing it’ll save a lot of videos of pets chasing each other around the house and fewer of mom and baby quietly rocking.) It’s got auto zoom and night vision. And it can also work as a security cam, Kannan says. The technology seems pretty impressive.
LensBricks isn’t the only startup to make cameras operate more autonomously; startup Lily recently came out of stealth with a drone camera you can set to follow you around while you’re doing something—skiing, say, or playing with a child—and then forget it for a while. But are we really ready for a camera that decides who, what, and when to film?
Tekla S. Perry is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., she's been covering the people, companies, and technology that make Silicon Valley a special place for more than 40 years. An IEEE member, she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Michigan State University.