It’s been slightly longer than a year since I received my Narrative Clip, and I wanted to let you know what my overall experience has been like. If you’d like to start at the beginning of my Narrative experience, you can view these posts:
24 Hours with the Narrative Clip: http://liorahess.com/blog/24-hours-with-the-narrative-clip
Two Weeks With the Narrative Clip: http://liorahess.com/blog/two-weeks-with-the-narrative-clip
Initially I’m almost always am delighted with whatever lifelogging (or other electronic) gadget I receive. After the honeymoon period wears off, however, I have a clearer picture of whether I’ll get enough value from a product.
I’m happy to say that the Narrative Clip is a keeper. Even though I’m always whipping out my smartphone to take pictures of things, the Narrative grabs photos that I would have missed. What’s neat is they are often things that I otherwise would consider mundane, yet occasionally I see things in a new way through this little camera.
The Narrative hasn’t been without frustrating issues, however.
Customer Support responds very quickly to requests, but naturally less quickly than they did when I first received the device and was one of some 22 lucky people in the world who had one. Narrative is a Swedish company, and the language barrier can sometimes be frustrating when communicating issues and solutions.
Desktop Software (Uploader and Website)
The uploader has sometimes given me error messages that require contacting Narrative to resolve. The upload is much faster now that I have a better internet service than I did when I wrote my initial posts. Narrative listened to their users and came out with a way to view photos online through https://narrativeapp.com/moments; the site is still in beta, but it’s a great improvement to only viewing the photos through the phone app. Unfortunately, the server is often very slow and clunky when trying to navigate photos.
It’s fun to scroll through pictures, even though the vast majority of them are not ones I want to keep. Unfortunately, the app has been pretty flaky at times. I’ve had days missing, days repeated, and so on. I’ve contacted the Customer Support many times, and they’ve often given me instructions that have fixed the issues. However, I quickly grew tired of contacting them and working through issues. All too often I’ve felt more like a beta tester rather than a customer.
Unfortunately, the hardware on my original device failed and required me to return the Clip for a new one. The company promptly reimbursed me for the fifty-some dollars required to return my original device to them, and they quickly sent me a new Clip in time for the wedding of my niece. The double-tap to take a photo is hit or miss. I take out my smartphone if I really need to know a picture has been taken. I’ve had no issues with the clip on the back of the Narrative or any wear and tear on the product. It looks as new as the day it arrived.
Quality of Photos
Some photos, particularly those taken outdoors in full sunlight, are clear and crisp. Photos indoors, especially in low lighting conditions, are often grainy and off in color. To some degree, this is to be expected as the size of the device just can’t compete with a smartphone’s camera or a dedicated camera.
Aesthetics and Privacy
Occasionally, I do have people asking what that “thing” on my shirt is. They often think it’s something like a Fitbit. I’ve shortened my elevator speech and now refer to it as a “lifelogger.” If I’m in a home or having lunch with a friend, I take the initiative to state that I’m wearing the Clip and ask if they would like me to remove it; so far everyone has said no and that they don’t care. I’m very happy that I got the dark gray model because it seems like it blends with my clothing more than other colors would. As for my personal privacy, I would like more confidence that no one but myself can view my photos.
Right now, Narrative is not charging me to store my photos. They have announced, however, that they will soon be rolling out storage plans. They’ve stated that there will always be a free option. I have to admit that the issue of storage costs has me concerned. I’m not convinced that the company sees eye to eye with their customers on what is a reasonable expense. If it is too expensive, I will likely have to go through saving various photos to my own storage devices, and that means I won’t have the kind of experience I wanted from the Narrative Clip.
I am not wearing the Clip every day like I was in the beginning. It seems like at least 80% percent of my life is pretty mundane (not Narrative’s fault, of course) and filled with homemaking, shopping, brushing my teeth, etc. But the flip side to that is that I do like to go back through my photos and see various mundane moments, such as “hey, look how ugly that sofa was before we got the new one!” The Narrative is like keeping a visual diary of your life. I just wish that diary were easier to review and edit. I have been frustrated by the plethora of ceiling photos rather than photos of what’s in front of me; that’s a design issue that I’m confident they’ll fix in a future version.
I try to keep in mind that the Narrative Clip is really a ground-breaking product. Yes, there are other wearable cameras, but I’ve yet to find one that has the combination of features that I want from a lifelogging camera. I don’t want or need to hide the camera, yet I don’t want it to be bulky, perched over my ear, on a hat or hanging from a cord on my neck. Narrative has managed to achieve a happy medium in this area.
In a nutshell, if I had it to do over again, I would definitely buy the Narrative Clip; I can’t say that about many of the quantified self devices I’ve owned and used.
Narrative Wish List
So if I could make changes to the Narrative Clip, here are some of them:
- Improve the design of the Clip so it has angle adjustments to better view what is in my field of vision rather than the ceiling.
- Come out with a wide angle lens or lens attachments that work well with the Clip.
- Provide various colored accessories that can be attached to the front of the Clip.
- Make it easier to quickly browse and delete photos. The online site is a great step in that direction, but between the app and the website, I still can’t quickly select many photos at once and delete them.
- Speed up the upload of photos and navigating the photos online.
- Allow me to edit the location data and add notes to pictures.
- Integrate with other lifelogging apps like Saga.
- Add other lifelogging features like step counters.
- Add a way to locate the device if it is lost (I do have my phone number on the back). Should it be irretrievable, being able to wipe it clean remotely would give me some peace of mind.