IBM software acts as human memory backup

IBM working on software that just may help you better recollect all the forgotten pieces of your life.

Ever try to remember who you bumped into at the store a few days back? Or exactly what the company president said at the morning meeting?

Well, you're not alone. And IBM researchers are working on software that just may help you better recollect all the forgotten pieces of your life.

This week, the company unveiled software that uses images, sounds, and text recorded on everyday mobile devices to help people recall names, faces, conversations and events. Dubbed Pensieve, the software organizes bits of collected information, stores them and then helps the user extract them later on.

"Today, we're flooded with information. It's an information overload and we're not capable of handling it," said Eran Belinsky, an IBM project leader. "This would relieve us from the anxiousness or need to try to remember everything. And there's the issue of trouble with recollection. [It's like] your index is broken. You know you know something but you can't get there. This could help people having trouble with their memory reconstruct their memories."

IBM's project is akin to one that Gordon Bell and other scientists at Microsoft Research have been working on for the past nine years. Bell, a longtime veteran of the IT industry and now principal researcher at Microsoft's research arm, is developing a way for people to remember different aspects of their lives.

Bell's project, called MyLifeBits, has him supplementing his own memory by collecting as much information as he can about his life. He's trying to store a lifetime on his Dell laptop. Collecting telephone conversations, music, lectures, books he's written and read and photographs he's incessantly taken, Bell is amassing a great database of his life.

Belinsky said IBM, while not part of the MyLifeBits project, are developing software that could help organize all of that information.

"After you take the pictures, you place them in the system," explained Belinsky. 'You stockpile the images in a server. In addition to taking the picture, you collect the contextual information, like embedding GPS information into the picture, along with the time. When the picture is uploaded, the software looks at your calendar to see what you were doing at that time. Then it can cluster images into groups based on time, location and calendar. And it will label the clusters."

Belinsky said he can't put a timeframe on when the software might be ready but did say that "hundreds" of IBM employees are testing it now.

"In Harry Potter, wizards can put their thoughts in the [Pensieve] and it will hold onto the memories," he added. "Later, the thoughts can be [retrieved] and shown to other people. We are trying, in a sense, to make magic a reality. Of course, we don't have magic, so we're trying to use today's magic wand, which is the mobile phone equipped with a digital camera and GPS. People will capture their memories or experience cues in the form of a picture. When they later see the picture, it will help them recollect the experience."

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld
Show Comments

Essentials

Mobile

Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >

Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?