Total Recall: Mini-Camera Records All (and Perhaps Too Much)

A man's daily commute to work will be documented, as will his first encounter with the woman of his life. The Memoto camera is always on, even in situations in which the use of mobile-phone cameras is forbidden. Indeed, chances are that Memoto will become a gigantic job-creation scheme in the world of privacy protection.

The Everyman's Lifelog

Do we want this? Who needs something like this? Källström talks about his childhood on a farm, where there was only a black-and-white TV set in the house. It was an idyllic environment, much like the setting of a novel by Astrid Lindgren. But then Källström's parents died, and many memories were lost.

He began keeping a diary, photographing scenes from everyday life. But soon he had to decide between experiencing life himself and merely documenting his existence. Källström chose to experience life. He started his first company, and he also became a father. He wants to enjoy his time with his children without having to worry about how to preserve their experiences. "Avoid falling into a trap of tracking more than you're living," Memoto warns on its blog.

Källström isn't the first to develop lifelogs. Eccentrics such as Canadian inventor Steve Mann and Microsoft executive Gordon Bell have been experimenting for years with devices to preserve their sensory impressions for eternity. Memoto, however, wants to turn the idea into a large-scale business: total recall for everyone.

Of course, conflicts are to be expected. Not everyone will be enthusiastic about the idea of being photographed constantly. Källström's business partner Kalmaru has already experienced this aversion firsthand. His son's kindergarten, for example, has prohibited the boy from bringing the device with him. The owner of a café in Seattle had similar concerns and has barred patrons from wearing the new Google Glass device in his establishment. Memoto appeals to its customers to "respect that other people might not wish to be photographed sometimes."

An Uncertain Future

But what happens once one, two or a hundred photos have been taken? The programmers at Memoto were already far along with the development of the software when they noticed that there was no function to allow the user to delete photos. The mistake has since been corrected.

The rest is "is the user's business," says Källström. Memoto has no access to the data, nor does the advertising industry. In this respect, Memoto's business model differs from that of companies such as Google or Facebook, whose customer is the advertising industry and whose products are the users who generously leave behind their data trails.

By contrast, Memoto plans to initially make its money with the sale of the cameras. Future customers can already reserve a camera today for $279 (€212). The company expects to start shipping the devices sometime this year, "if everything goes off without a hitch." The price includes a year of photo storage.

And after that? Källström doesn't want to keep his 30-percent stake in Memoto forever, especially since his investor, a London venture capital firm called Passion Capital, eventually wants to cash in. The model, which Källström doesn't mention by name, is called Instagram. The photo app company had 12 employees and was losing money when Facebook acquired it a year ago -- for $1 billion.

A few months after the takeover, Instagram temporarily changed its terms of service and granted itself the comprehensive rights to use and exploit its users' photos.

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

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