WAHM 2014 : Workshop on Ubiquitous Technologies for Augmenting the Human Mind @ UbiComp

Country: USA

City: Seattle

Abstr. due: 14.07.2014

Dates: 14.09.14 — 14.09.14

Area Of Sciences: Biology; Psychology; Computer science;

Organizing comittee e-mail: wahm2014@hcilab.org

Organizers: Institute for Visualization and Interactive Systems



The human memory is an incredibly vast storage space capable of holding a lifetime worth of information. As people go about their lives memories accumulate and form our base of knowledge, our character and our identity. However, as Schacter points out, human memory is fallible in many ways and hence it is important to care for the mind, just as people care for their bodies. Tools and Technologies support people with their everyday cognitive tasks, such as remembering a busy schedule or taking down notes so no information is lost. Still people struggle when it comes to remembering certain events, people and pieces of information. But what if people never had to forget anything, but had complete control over what they remembered? The goal of lifelogging is to gather all your digital and real-world experiences, everything you have ever seen, heard, read and done. Recent developments in capture technology and information retrieval allow for continuous and automated recordings of many aspects of our everyday lives. To harness these trends and develop new paradigms for memory augmentation technologies, it is crucial to look at feasibility, human cognition, user acceptance and benefits to society. In order to build such memory augmenting system, all aspects of biological memory need to be taken into account: procedural memory (i.e. muscle memory and memory for physical skills), semantic memory (i.e. meanings, definitions, concepts), as well as episodic memory (i.e. autobiographical memory that encodes experiences from the past).

A recent movement towards a quantified self has produced a number of consumer products, such as unobtrusive cameras, microphones, location trackers, but also biometrical sensors measuring heart rate and blood oxygen levels. This data helps being proactive about ones health and habits, but furthermore awareness may lead to behavior change. A holistic quantified self however, should include the mind as well: What we have read, seen, experienced or felt. Technology has always had a direct impact on how and what humans remember. This impact is both inevitable and fundamental technology radically changes the nature and scale of the cues that we can preserve outside our own memory in order to trigger recall. Such change is not new we have seen the transition from story-telling to written books, from paintings to photographs to digital images and from individual diaries to collective social networks.

Vannevar Bushs Memex vision has become partly reality through the advent of the Internet. With lifelogging data combined with context-driven memory aids, his vision is further put into reality. People have their entire set of experiences and knowledge at their fingertips. However, simply having all this information at ones disposal is far from being enough. In order to make this information applicable, pieces of information need to surface in the right amount at the right time. Smart memory aids can sift through this vast amount of information and retrieve and present information at the right time tailored to the users current context. Hence, in this workshop we are looking at technologies that help make sense of life log data and proactively put it into applications to support people in their everyday lives. This includes sensor technologies making sense of peoples environment, intelligent algorithms to sift through this kind of data and different modalities and ways of presenting information on the output side. These developments also have social, economical and ethical implications, which need to be taken seriously. Relevant research in the field contributes to our fundamental understanding of human memory and has a transformational impact on all aspects of life the workplace, family life, health and education by measurably improving the acquisition of new knowledge, the retention of existing knowledge, and the loss of unwanted knowledge. In recent years three separate strands of technology have developed to the extent that collectively they open up entirely new ways of augmenting human memory:

  1. Near-continuous collection of memory cues has become possible through the use of technologies such as Microsofts SenseCam, social networks and interaction logs.
  2. Advances in data storage and processing now enables widespread mining of stored cues for proactive presentation, both in terms of cues collected by an individual and in terms of complex networks of related cues contributed by others.
  3. The presence of ubiquitous displays (both in the environment and via personal devices such as Google Glasses) provides many new opportunities for displaying memory cues to trigger recall.

In this workshop we want to bring together and discuss leading edge technologies that aim at supporting and augmenting human memory in order to not only help people with cognitive disabilities, but furthermore to bring applications to the mainstream to be incorporated into peoples everyday lives with respect to their health, work and lifelong learning.


To approach the challenges of augmenting the human mind, we will focus on the following themes, depending on participant contributions.

  • Applied cognitive memory theories: how can technology augmented recall be used to both re-enforce and attenuate memories? Uncued recall is particularly vulnerable to age-related decline. Technology could be used to help remedy this memory loss by providing older users with time-relevant and context-appropriate cues.
  • Novel capture technologies: Lifelogging technologies, such as Microsoft’s SenseCam, have been researched for a while. Nowadays, an increasing number of commercial products are available quantifying people’s lives. Fitbit, Jawbone and various smartphone apps allow people to track their activities and habits. So the question arises how to merge this data to automate the acquisition of personal memories?
  • From an information retrieval and processing perspective we want to discuss potential technologies relevant for memory processing and retrieval. Through adaptive algorithms automated daily summaries can be compiled from lifelogging footage.
  • On the output side we are looking for Innovative User Interfaces for e-memories, including technologies for information priming. For example, how can feedback through ambient large displays and personal mobile devices aid personal memory acquisition, retention, and attenuation?
  • Designing knowledge acquisition points: wherever people consume information or make new experience they advance their personal knowledge. Acquisition points include but are not limited to museum visits, reading activities, or classroom technologies.
  • Commercial application areas for e-memories: While many of the application domains for such technologies are for the public good, the same technologies can also be employed in the commercial context. For example, technology could be used to support a new form of advertising in which users have memories triggered explicitly to drive purchasing decisions.
  • Privacy and security: Widespread pervasive sensing, personal recording technologies and systems for the quantified self raise new challenges to people’s security of personal memory data. When private memory records are stored for later retrieval, they need to be protected from unauthorized access and tinkering.

Conference Web-Site: http://recall-fet.eu/wahm2014/