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The SenseCam as a tool for task observation

British Computer Society
  • Information Technology
  • Human Factors
  • Information Storage And Retrieval Systems
  • Interactive Computer Systems
  • Lifelog
  • Lifelogging


The SenseCam is a passive capture wearable camera, worn around the neck and developed by Microsoft Research in the UK. When worn continuously it takes an average of 2,000 images per day. It was originally envisaged for use within the domain of Human Digital Memory to create a personal lifelog or visual recording of the wearer's life, which can be helpful as an aid to human memory. However, within this paper, we explore its applicability as a tool for use within observational and ethnographic studies. We employed the SenseCam as a tool for the collection of observational data in an empirical study, which sought to determine the information access practices of molecular medicine researchers. The affordances of the SenseCam making it appropriate for use within this domain, as well as its limitations, are discussed in the context of this study. We found that while the SenseCam, in its current form, will not offer a complete replacement of traditional observational methods, it offers a complimentary and supplementary route to the collection of observational data.

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