The Microsoft research team just uncovered an intriguing project called Lifebrowser. In these times of serious privacy concerns, I wonder whether this product will see the sunlight without any debates around it. Lifebrowser is somewhat similar to the Facebook’s Timeline, but much more complex.


Microsoft Develops a Lifebrowser That Would Keep Track of Your Digital Life

Eric Horvitz, the scientist who led the research team behind Lifebrowser demonstrated the software and he is the most appropriate voice to explain the concept.

“We were interested in making local machines private data-mining centers [that are] very smart about you and your memory so that you can better navigate through that great amount of content,”

says Eric Horvitz. What exactly does this mean?

Microsoft’s software is capable to:

  • process photos
  • e-mails
  • web browsing
  • calendar events like appointments or birthdays
  • large array of work-related documents stored on the computer

Lifebrowser filters this information and creates “memory landmarks” that spread over days, months or even years. More intriguingly, the system learns to predict these memory landmarks, which are the events the user considers important. Lifebrowser lets the user navigate through a comprehensive timeline of events, allowing control of the amount of information displayed. A zoom-like function allows a more detailed view with more events or a more filtered approach with only the most important events displayed. Lifebrowser allows additional filters to be applied to the information in the time line, like:

  • Images
  • Meeting
  • File activity
  • Web browsing
  • Location

Lifebrowser Will Help You Revisit Events, Photos And Emails From Your Past


The system allows searches, so the user can found out only the events related to a particular subject. In the left column, the software displays items in different categories associated to the searched event, such as images, emails or documents. Behind the simple and intuitive interface, there are complex processes that allow the machine to learn form the user’s input. This visionary project sounds exciting, remember how awesome was it when we discovered that we are able to send emails into the future!

With a commercial product similar to Lifebrowser, one would be able to look in the past! Hundreds of events are scanned and a probabilistic model is applied in order to determine what is more important, what is a probability that an event to be considered by the user a memory landmark. For now, Lifebrowser is only a prototype but its creator Eric Horvitz has been showing the software off for family, friends, colleagues and a select few tech-oriented websites.

“This is showing that a model is not only learning about how I think, it’s also very warmly understanding what it means to capture humanity,”

said Horvitz about his latest project.

[via TechnologyReview] photo credit

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was the Managing Editor of Technology Personalized. He now writes about Windows 10 apps and reviews them on WindowsReport. Believes that technology is the main engine of civilization. Send him a tweet or make him your Facebook friend