Google thought of everything with its new Clips lifelogging cam. Except ‘Why?’

lifelogging google clips press close
In September 2016, lifelogging camera maker Narrative shuttered production citing “financial troubles.” Although it was far from the only option on the market, it proved to be the preverbal nail in the coffin for lifelogging cameras, which have since seen little revitalization and almost no signs of success.

Why then, just over a year later, would Google unveil Google Clips — a small, square, wearable camera designed to capture life as it happens, cherry-picking out the best moments using artificial intelligence?

All lifelogging cameras struggle to answer the same question: why?

At face value, Google Clips is an impressive little device. Through its 12-megapixel camera, Google Clips captures 15 frames per second and uses onboard machine learning to sort through the resulting images and find the best content from throughout the day — all on a device small enough to clip onto your shirt pocket. But are specs alone enough to revive lifelogging cameras, and is there a purpose that they need to fulfill?

As a whole, it seems all lifelogging cameras struggling to answer the same question: why? Nikon released its own wearable camera, the Keymission 80. Sony even conceptualized its own wearable, the Xperia Eye. And then, there are the many indie companies — from Kickstarter startups to no-name Chinese manufacturers — that all wanted a slice of the pie. But, like Narrative and its pioneering camera, all of them fail to answer the question, “why?”

Sure, having a clip-on camera saves a little time and convenience compared to pulling out a smartphone. But for the number of problems it solves, it also complicates things. Not only is it an extra purchase, running $250 in the case of Google Clips, but you then need to sync the device with your smartphone or tablet to transfer over the content and you also have to worry about charging up and carrying around yet another device.

Then, there’s the issue of content. How often, on a daily basis, are you doing interesting things worth recording? Lifelogging cameras promise to capture life’s most precious moments, but are those 1 percent of moments being captured worth wasting time, battery life, and convenience for the other 99 percent of the time? Probably not.

If any company can truly make lifelogging as simple in reality as it is in theory, it’s Google.

For most people, taking out a smartphone for that 1 percent is more than adequate, especially when you consider you need to take your smartphone out anyway to transfer over the content captured on a lifelogging camera. In fact, Google touts it as an accessory to the Pixel, and it isn’t compatible with every phone, namely the iPhone (yet).

All of that said, Google isn’t like most other companies that attempt to tackle lifelogging cameras. If any company can simplify the process and truly make lifelogging as simple in reality as it is in theory, it’s Google.

Unlike the aforementioned companies, Google is delivering both hardware and software. By tying together its continuously learning AI technology with the storage and convenience of Google Photos, it’s easy to see how Google could use its software and services to bridge a gap that’s been present in other companies’ efforts to take on lifelogging cameras. Plus, it helps that Google has the marketing power to promote it as a “must have” product.

If Google can reduce the interaction with lifelogging cameras while yielding the same results in terms of captured memories, they stand a chance to answer “why” with convenience. But it’s a big task to take on, and at $250, it’s hard to tell if general consumers would get onboard.

Even with the technology of the camera set aside, there’s also the issue of privacy. Is the world ready for a day and age where every person walking the street has a camera recording their every move, especially one that has features like facial recognition? You can argue that we are already living in a brave new world of cameras everywhere, but the thought is still unsettling.

There are a lot of questions to be answered. But if Google can tackle lifelogging cameras with the right approach, it might just be able to do it.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.


I tried an LTE laptop for a month, and I wasn’t really convinced

LTE laptops offer up plenty of benefits and are becoming more common. After spending one month with one in my daily life in New York City, I really wondered if it is something that consumers really need in their lives.
Product Review

The Asus ZenBook 14 is a tiny notebook that gets lost in the crowd

The ZenBook 14 aims to be the smallest 14-inch notebook around, and it succeeds thanks to some tiny bezels. Performance and battery life are good, but the notebook lacks a standout feature other than size.

On a budget? We found the best affordable smartphones you can buy

Here are the best cheap phones for anyone working with a tight budget, whether you're a fan of stock Android or marathon battery life. Find out what you can get for under $500 or far, far less as we round up the best budget smartphones.
Product Review

Why spend more? The Yoga Chromebook outdoes most laptops for $600

The Yoga Chromebook features great build quality, a 1080p display, and all-day battery life. All that for $540? That’s right, but there’s one catch.

Photographers can now customize the layout of Lightroom Classic controls

Tired of scrolling past Lightroom tools that you don't use? Adobe Lightroom Classic now allows users to reorganize the Develop panel. The update comes along with new sharing options in Lightroom CC, and updates to the mobile Lightroom app.
Social Media

Instagram could be making a special type of account for influencers

Instagram influencers fall somewhere between a business profile and a typical Instagram, so the company is working on developing a type of account just for creators. The new account type would give creators more access to analytical data.

Leave the laptop at home, the iPad Pro is the travel buddy to take on vacay

The iPad Pro is a powerful tablet that's perfect for creatives and professionals. How does it fare when traveling with it as a laptop replacement? We took it on a two week trek in Japan to find out.

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…

These are the best action cameras money can buy

Action cameras are great tools for capturing videos of your everyday activities, whether it's a birthday party or the steepest slope you've ever descended on your snowboard. These are the best money can buy.

Canon holiday sale features the Rebel T6 2-lens kit for just $449

If you have a budding photographer in your life in need of a real camera, the Canon EOS Rebel T6 could make the perfect gift. Canon is currently offering the camera in a two-lens bundle for just $449 through December 29.
Emerging Tech

Light, speed: Lighting kit for DJI Mavic 2 lets you fly and film in the dark

Lume Cube, maker of small battery-powered LED lights for mobile photography, has announced a new lighting kit built specifically for the DJI Mavic 2 -- the first of its kind. Already our favorite drone, this makes the Mavic 2 even better.
Social Media

Instagram’s 2018 year in review shines a light on where our hearts are

What did Instagram users share the most in 2018? A lot of heart emojis, heart face filters, and heart GIFs. The platform recently shared the year's top trends, including hashtags like #fortnite and #metoo along with a few surprises.

Want a fun, affordable instant camera? The Fujifilm Instax Mini 7S is just $49

Instant cameras have had a surprising resurgence of late, and no brand is better recognized in the instant photo space today than Fujifilm Instax. Walmart is currently offering the Instax Mini 7S for just $49.

Not just for Lightroom anymore, Loupedeck+ now works with Photoshop

Loupedeck+ can now help photographers edit in Photoshop too, thanks to physical controls for swapping tools, running actions, and more. The photo-editing console expanded to include Photoshop in the list of compatible editing programs.