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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 March, 2004, 12:34 GMT
Log your life via your phone
By Mark Ward
BBC News Online technology correspondent

Screengrab of Lifeblog on a phone, Nokia
Lifeblog on a phone screen
Nokia is developing software that will help turn its phones into life loggers.

The Lifeblog software automatically arranges all the messages, images, videos and sound clips people capture with their phones.

The PC software organises information on a timeline and lets people add to the collection with images from other digital still and video cameras.

Eventually the software will let people publish some or all of the information they collect to the web to let them create their own biographical blog.

Snap happy

Regularly updated journals known as weblogs, or blogs, are hugely popular on the net.

Blogs are maintained about almost every subject from new technologies to political developments and many people use them as a kind of online diary.

Some sites such as Buzznet help people maintain moblogs or photoblogs which are journals that log what they are doing and seeing when on the move.

Screengrab of Lifeblog on a PC, Nokia
Lifeblog is organised by time
Now Nokia is developing software to help people organise the information they capture about their lives on handsets that can shoot still or moving images, capture sounds and send text, e-mail and multimedia messages.

"The mobile telephone is becoming a life recorder," said Christian Lindholm, former head of user interfaces at Nokia and now the man behind the Lifeblog project.

Bigger memories on top-end phones means that people gradually, and inadvertently, accumulate a lot of information about themselves.

"People are gatherers," he said, "somewhere deep in the genes there's something that tells us to collect stuff."

He said Nokia had worked hard to ensure that people could do most things, such as take pictures or tap out text messages, on its handsets with one hand.

"That makes the whole culture of snapping possible," he said, "you are just kind of logging your life as you go by."

The Lifeblog software runs on a PC and, when a phone is connected to the machine, sucks down all the images, text and multimedia messages stored on the handset.

It will then populate a timeline with the information arranging it chronologically and annotating it with tags the phone records about when and where something was done.

The software works out where someone was using codes that uniquely identify cell phone base stations.

Images from digital still or video cameras can also be added to the collection of information.

"You want to keep everything so you can get a nice overview," said Mr Lindholm "so you can decide what you really want to keep or delete."

New tools

A cut-down version of Lifeblog will also run on a handset to allow people to see how the content they capture is being arranged.

A baby in a chair, BBC
New parents tend to accumulate lots of photos
Mr Lindholm said Nokia's Lifeblog software was part of a growing market for personal content managers and would likely compete with Apple's iLife and the other products such as Picasa.

Eventually tools included with Lifeblog will let people publish some of the information online to populate a weblog.

Mr Lindholm said: "I would like lifeblogging to become a verb.

Mr Lindholm said version 1.0 of Lifeblog should be available by the end of June. A preview will be shown off at the Cebit technology fair in Hanover next week.

The first phone to have the software on-board and included in the Nokia PC suite of software it comes with will be the recently announced 6620.

The sample version will have a limit set on the amount of content it will catalogue. Once this limit is reached users will be prompted to buy the full version for 30 euros.

Unfortunately the Lifeblog software will not work with older Series 60 phones because they use a software connectivity layer that Nokia has changed on later phones.

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