Memories are made of software

Cell phones and other mobile devices may soon offer help to faltering memories thanks to software created at an IBM Research Laboratory.


Cell phones and other mobile devices may soon offer help to faltering memories thanks to software created in IBM Research Laboratories.


In use, the software uses the images, sounds, and text recorded on the devices to help people recall names, faces, conversations and other important information.


The technology, nicknamed ‘Pensieve’ by the IBM team in Haifa, Israel, uses associative recall to make connections between pieces of related data.


A big advantage of the software is that it can understand the context in which data is captured, connect various data, and use this knowledge to help bring the correct information to a person when it is needed.


Dr Yaakov Navon, the lead researcher and image processing expert from IBM’s Haifa Research Laboratory, said: ‘This is like having a personal assistant for your memory.’


Today’s mobile devices have a number of functions that can record data in real-time. IBM’s software blends techniques from image processing, GPS information, smart clustering, optical character recognition, speech recognition, and information retrieval to index and tag the information.


For example, if a user of the software were to meet someone at a conference and use a phone to take a picture of him or her and another picture of that person’s business card, the new software will associate the two pieces of data because they were taken at the same time and location.


The software then creates a virtual briefcase of data that includes the person’s image, the name of the conference, the date and time, and any other relevant data.