Home Business IT Business Telecommunications IBM software aims at total recall by tapping data from mobile phone

IBM software aims at total recall by tapping data from mobile phone

IBM researchers have developed software aimed at putting to use the wealth of information that can be captured by current mobile devices. The idea is to make data from photos and audio recordings made with mobile phones and similar devices easily retrievable in context on the desktop.

A typical scenario is that you remember meeting someone at a conference or other event, but you can't recall their name. If you had captured the person's business card with your camera phone, it would most likely be automatically tagged with the date and perhaps even the geographical location thanks to GPS.

So imagine returning from an event and syncing the content from your mobile device to your PC, where the PENSIEVE software applies OCR to any text in the image (eg, to extract names, addresses and phone numbers from business cards) and then links related information using the available metadata.

For instance, if you take photographs of a person and their business card within a few seconds, the system could assume both items relate to the same person. Information in your calendar for that date and time may help identify the event at which the meeting occurred in addition to the geographical location as determined by GPS.

PENSIEVE can also apply speech recognition to audio recordings.

Down the track, a calendar entry for a subsequent meeting with that person might trigger the display of the previously captured material to refresh your memory.


"This is like having a personal assistant for your memory," said Yaakov Navon, lead researcher and image processing expert at IBM's Haifa Research Lab.

"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."

IBM officials also suggest that the information collected could also be useful for presentation purposes, such as sharing the record of a business trip with colleagues.

Perhaps PENSIEVE would be even more useful in combination with a device like Microsoft's SenseCam, which captures images (and potentially audio) without user intervention - though privacy issues could not be ignored. But for now, camera phones are affordable and already in widespread use.


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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.