Living Frames

Intel Labs asked us to look 10 years into the future and imagine how people might capture or display photos given expected advances in technology. Intel is in the ever faster processor business and uses these predictions to steer chip architecture as well as to help spur developers imagination to maintain demand for faster silicon.

Over the course of the project we realised that using photos for storytelling is such a fundamentally instinctive behaviour that it is safe to predict it will last through several generations of technological innovation.

Our concept develops on this insight. However, foreseeing 10 years into the future is tricky. With IBM’s Watson, we’re seeing a sneak peak of improvements in natural language and intention recognition. We think that one of the photo related advances users will enjoy are computers that will actually help us tell stories and have richer conversations.

We imagine Living Frames as being built with existing technologies, improved and made more reliable by ten years of evolution.

We envision a picture frame that is aware of its physical surroundings. Kinect-inspired sensors could give all sort of information about the people in the room: who they are, whether they are facing the frame or not, and so on. Natural language recognition could enable the frame to understand the context and meaning of conversations. However, even with this knowledge, the system must know enough about an image’s content be able to retrieve the relevant one amongst libraries containing thousands.

Most of our photos now reside online, often, for instance, in Facebook albums that are increasingly communal. For this reason we envision a frame that is acutely aware of our digital life. Yet we also imagine an evolution on the kind of metadata available with each picture. At present we know when and where the picture was taken. The increasing digitisation of our life (for instance, in invitations to events) and technologies such as face recognition can provide new awareness on the social context in which a picture was taken. Information such as who is in the photo, who was nearby, and so on become available.

Living Frames re-invents the way we currently consume pictures by introducing a listening entity that reacts to the environment around it. This has an impact on people, who have a completely new way of interacting with their memories. Yet Living Frames also creates the need and desire for devices powerful enough to handle the technology necessary to be able to “listen” and react appropriately.