A research group run by Microsoft in Cambridge, England, has developed a digital camera called the SenseCam for Alzheimer's and dementia patients. It hangs around the patient's neck and takes wide-angle lens pictures that capture most of what the patient is able to see. The camera has light and heat sensors that prompt it to take pictures as the user's surroundings change throughout the day. Alternatively, the camera can be set to take pictures every thirty seconds that can be turned into short movies that remind patients what happened over the course of any specific day.
The results for patients using the cameras have been pretty astonishing so far: one woman who could only remember 2% of events from any given week could recall 80% of major events that occurred over a six week period when she reviewed the SenseCam's images for an hour every two days.
You don't have to have a neurological disorder to want to remember what you were doing two weeks, two months, or two years ago. We're glad to see that Microsoft is researching other uses for the SenseCam that include monitoring food intake, coordinating disaster response, and, of course, "automatic diary."