Being both a fan of innovative hardware and a photography buff, one of the products I eagerly anticipated testing was the Narrative Clip livelogging camera (US$279). The product began life as a 2012 Kickstarter project named Memoto and finally reached market this year, so when I was offered the chance to test the Narrative Clip camera, I jumped at the opportunity. What I found is a product that is well-designed and built, but that also demonstrates some of the pitfalls of wearable devices that are meant to capture images all the time.
The Narrative Clip looks like no other digital camera you've seen before. In fact, it looks more like one of the many Bluetooth tracking chips that seem to be so popular on Kickstarter these days. Measuring just 1.42 x 1.42 x 0.35 inches (36 x 36 x 9 mm) and weighing just .7 oz (20 grams), Narrative has a clip on the back of it (hence the name), a tiny hole indicating the location of the lens, a set of LEDs to indicate power and status, and a micro-USB port for charging.
It's available in three colors: white, gray, and orange. Inside the smooth plastic exterior lie the brains of the Narrative Clip, which include 8 GB of memory, a GPS receiver, an accelerometer, a magnetometer, and an image sensor.
When clipped to a collar or pocket, the Narrative Clip begins snapping one 5 megapixel image every 30 seconds. Don't want to take photos at a particular point? Just put it into a pocket or place it face down on a surface and it stops snapping images. If you see something that you want to capture but don't want to take the chance on missing the photo, a double-tap on the device tells it to take a picture right away.
The Narrative Clip is simply a digital camera with sensors built into it, and as such there is no way to view images directly on the tiny device. To transfer all of those images to cloud storage (one year free storage is included in your purchase), you'll need to have either a Mac or PC running the free Narrative Uploader software.
So how do you view your images? Once you connect the Narrative Clip to your Mac or PC, the images are uploaded to the cloud and then processed. Sophisticated algorithms look at the quality of the images and the location where they were captured, and then "moments" are created. Each moment is made up of a series of photos. I found that most of the moments were rather short, although there were some that ran as long as an hour.
The cloud processing of images is also one of the reasons that the Narrative Clip can last for about two days on a single charge. Geolocation through GPS is quite power-intensive, so the device captures the location information but doesn't geotag individual images until processing is done in the cloud.