My Thoughts on the Microsoft Lifestreaming Patent

Last week through an Engadget post I learned of a Microsoft patent filing for ‘life streaming’. The filing describes ‘life streaming as:

A system and method for analyzing, summarizing, and transmitting life experiences captured using a life recorder is described. A life recorder is a recording device that continuously captures life experiences, including unanticipated life experiences, in video and/or audio recordings.

After reading through the filing it is clearly evident that this very closely resembles the hardware and functionality of the Sensecam which I covered in 2009 and was born from Gordon Bell’s video capturing portion of his MyLifeBits project. Gordon Bell and David Gelernter are pioneers in this area but Gordon used the term Lifelogging while David used Lifestreaming. So I find both the naming of the patent to be strange along with the fact that Gordon Bell’s name isn’t listed anywhere on the patent.

Video of Gordon Bell at a Quantified Self Meetup wearing a Sensecam (see 4:30) and discussing his MyLifeBits project

Beyond those rather strange issues with the Microsoft patent, this is coming when there is a previous history of David Gelernter suing Apple for Lifestreaming. In that case David’s company Mirror Worlds won a staggering $625.5 million dollar judgement which at the time was one of the largest in patent lawsuit history but the judgement has since been reversed. Coincidentally Apple won a $1-3 billion judgement against Samsung last week making it the biggest patent lawsuit win in history.

Although this patent seems to be specific to functionality around a video / audio recording device and probably specific to the Sensecam I’m very wary of a patent around this technology. There is already so many hardware and software solutions that could be used to enable what is being described in this patent that I fear it’s yet another mechanism that may stall innovation. I will be monitoring this patent as it works its way through the system and will be interested to see if any comments or involvement come from Gordon Bell or David Gelernter as it moves forward. If you’re curious as to how these technologies might work in the future I highly recommend you watch the “The Entire History of You” episode of the Black Mirror series. Also, along the same lines but not as good is the Final Cut with Robin Williams.

4 thoughts on “My Thoughts on the Microsoft Lifestreaming Patent”

  1. True Chris, but these are meant more to be a private digital archive than public. Not everybody was born with a natural ability to educate and entertain 🙂

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