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26 Apr 2010

Lifelogging – The Camera Never Lies

by Cat Woods

The term ‘lifelog’ is referred to by a variety of names such as ‘lifecasting’ and ‘lifecaching’. If you’ve not heard of this form of social networking, then read on...

Lifelogging is not a new concept and has been around since the early 1980s but in today’s blogging climate, this type of activity is becoming more popular with individuals and more interestingly forming part of brand consumer research.

It involves a small camera being carried by an individual, usually worn around an individual’s neck. The purpose is the ability to document their actions 24/7 to gain a deeper insight of their daily routine.
Unlike other forms of consumer research such as focus groups and one-to-one interviews, this method allows the consumer to conform to their natural instincts rather than being fully aware of being scrutinised in what they are saying or doing. This is why more and more brands are picking up on this technique, as the results are a truer reflection of the individual. Rather than having an edited version of the truth, the results than come back show the person’s whole life with actual real-life experiences.

The vital areas where results are really beneficial is when information is required for what people buy and when, how people react to media, getting people to change their behaviour in terms of brand development planning.

The insight and innovation director at GSK Consumer Healthcare, Lois Schorah, says it is this element of lifelogging that most attracts her to the technique. “It would be really useful to see what people are looking at on a shelf, how long for and whether they are looking at the information on the back of the packet,” she says. “It has lots of potential for understanding shoppers. It could be quite a flexible tool.”

The downfall of this methodology is that whilst the results are fantastic, the hours of footage that needs to be analysed is vast, but there is a lot of development that is continuing whereby software will recognise certain details, such as an activity or a logo.

Whilst the more popular forms of user research can return an altered perspective of an individual, this technique cannot lie. Many brands chose to replay the footage analysis to the individuals in order to change their behaviour. For example, Dr Bob Cook, board director at a research agency carried out one project looking at levels of environmental awareness among consumers. People had stated that they were very interested in green issues such as recycling and saving energy, but the lifelogging footage showed something different. “They realised that they weren’t being as green as they could have been,” he reports.

From a personal perspective I love this concept but it goes against our nature of our choice of memories which we historically record in a photo album. Rather than a edited version of events to recall happy memories in many years time, you cannot hide from the truth in lifelogging. A scary prospect for some... the camera never lies!

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