A time machine for your life

Parents are busy. And no matter how ambitious they are about documenting an exciting new life, almost all the footage they capture ends up in a digital wasteland perhaps never to be seen again before the harddrive is lost or forgotten.  Retrocam rectifies that by only capturing the moments that matter by design and uploading them to the cloud.  And once those moments are captured it makes them easy or automatic to share with loved ones like the far away grandmother.


This is one of my favorite projects. 

John Lynch and Alix Gillet-Kirt and I were given the brief of addressing the health needs of needs of new parents with a tangible user interface. After two intense weeks of user research we discovered that parents have a strong desire to capture moments with the child and send them to loved ones.  Not a big surprise there, but what we found after further investigation was that even when Parents take plenty of footage it is rarely edited down to moments that matter. Even more disheartening, due to the volume of the footage it is ironically rarely shared or even watched until years later if it is not lost.  Parents will spend hours trying to get a shot like the one on the left, but usually just end up putting a lens between them and their child durring their first steps. What are the chances of catching something like the photo on the left?

The solution we arrived at is completely different from all existing video solutions because it eliminates most of the typical editing and sharing process. We do this by creating a camera that is constantly on capturing footage and deleting it on a loop. After something memorable happens (the baby says its first word for example) someone will touch the camera and the footage from the previous 15, 30 or 45 seconds will be captured depending on how far down the back their hand moves.


We built dozens of prototypes, the final one incorporated working electronics and found it incredibly fun to have in the room. Whenever a decision was made we could touch the device and chronicle our work process. If something funny happened we would all race to activate the RetroCam.

An amazing amount of debate went into this user centered design. We brought back several iterations to various users for feedback and testing. Almost every aspect of this product has been designed with care over the course of the month long project.