Those clever folks at IBM have come up with something rather cool: ?Pensieve?. In a blatant nod to the Harry Potter memory machine, scientists have come up with a way to help you remember every face, name and phone number you encounter, by using data from your mobile devices to build and store connections from your day-to-day experiences.
Pensieve?s creators claim that the technology can actually recognise not only information, but also in what context it occurred ? mimicking the human mind?s association-based memory system. The tool is in the final stages of completion at IBM?s Israel-based lab.
The technology works by piecing together bits of data collected on devices you are already carrying. For example, you could meet a business owner, who may very well give you their business card. If you were to take a photo of the person , and then their card, Pensieve would link the two images together with time and location information ? from either your phone or another mobile device, such as a GPS ? to help you remember the details.
“This is like having a personal assistant for your memory,” IBM Haifa Research Lab Lead Researcher Dr. Yaakov Navon explained. “Our daily routines are overflowing with situations where we gain new information through meetings, advertisements, conferences, events, surfing the Web, or even window shopping. Instead of going home and using a general Web search to find that information, Pensieve helps the brain recall those everyday things you might normally forget.”
The software also interacts with your existing technology, such as phone, or computer-based calendar systems.
“This is where the real power of collaboration kicks in,” researcher Eran Belinsky commented. “You can recall the name of the person you met right before you entered a meeting by traversing a timeline of your experiences, or share a business trip with colleagues by creating a mashup that shows a map with an animation of your trail and the pictures you took in every location.”
If you ignore the technology, the actual act of taking photos and later reviewing the data could prove to be just as beneficial as te system itself.
“The extra effort to do all this and sync it with your computer later would definitely help one’s memory for the information improve,” said Ken Paller, professor of psychology at Northwestern University. “The difficulty is partly in making this extra effort in the first place.”
The biggest issue with Pensieve is that the user needs to take frequent proactive steps, such as photo-taking. One answer could be to use a camera in glasses Paller suggests.
“[The glasses] could be set up to snap a photo of whatever you’re looking at when you signal, say, by blinking your eyes,” Paller noted. “Later, you could rehearse your whole day and store all the most important bits of information.”