Forget forgetting: Google wants to index your real-world experiences and make them searchable

Making memories.
Making memories.
Image: PRNewsFoto/Dwell on Design
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

You’ve done a lot of interesting things in your life, but how many of them can you list right now? How well do you actually remember them? Google’s next version of its head-mounted Glass wearable could make forgetting a thing of the past.

In a patent awarded today, Google outlined a method for recording video using a camera mounted on a wearable like Google Glass that can be searched at a later date. In the patent, the wearable would send its video to a user’s paired phone, which would in turn send the video to a server. A user could then head to an online repository to check all their recordings in the cloud, and use keywords to search for specific instances they want to re-watch. It would essentially be like exporting one’s memories to the cloud.

The next version of Glass would be great for Harry Potter fans.
The next version of Glass would be great for Harry Potter fans.
Image: US Patent and Trademark Office

The patent suggests recordings would be tagged by time and location, and that video recording could start automatically if the wearable detects the user is at a popular location, like the Louvre, or places the user has set to always record from. This would preserve the wearable’s battery life, and would avoid potentially always being in record mode.

Users could also replay their memories from their wearable, asking it questions to trigger videos, according to the patent. Users could ask questions like, “What were the paintings I saw when I was on vacation in Paris?” or ”How many books did I read in May?” This would be great for the forgetful, especially for those looking to remember what happened the next day after a long night—that is, if they want to remember.

Videos could also be shared to social networks, meaning you could also find out what your friends have been up to without you. Some of the potential questions the patent suggests are ”Where were my friends last night?” and “Show me people that were at the party last night?” Perhaps it would be best not to ask those questions.

While this is a patent and there’s no guarantee that Google will turn this idea into a reality, it would be a logical next step for certain products. There’s already a similar sort of searchable technology in Google Photos: If you type in dog, it’ll show you all the pictures you’ve ever taken of dogs. So it’s not a crazy leap to see how this computer vision and recording technology could be used for everything the next version of Google Glass sees. Google was not immediately available to comment on its plans for the patent.

But then, there are privacy issues around always recording video wherever you are. The patent even suggests that the technology could be used by security forces, who could ask questions like “Show me the faces of all people that were seen between 1 P.M. and 3 P.M.” to see everyone seen by a group of security guards wearing Glass. It could essentially turn everyone wearing Glass into a walking CCTV camera. Orwell would be rolling in his grave at that prospect.