Who needs a small square that clips to your shirt and takes 5 megapixel photos of whatever you're seeing without manual intervention? That was the promise of Memoto, a Kickstarter project that raised $550,000 and shipped about a year ago after being renamed the Narrative Clip. Originally, the focus of the company was on life logging, the nearly continuous capture of images throughout the day to form a nearly comprehensive record of one's day. That's a market for experimenters, and one that really needs a level of intelligence about a consumer that's difficult to attain from a technology and privacy perspective.

But in a recent interview, Narrative co-founder and CMO Oskar Kalmaru notes the big difference between running a crowdfunding campaign and getting feedback from the customers it now has in 52 different countries. The momentum has allowed the startup to secure a $8 million investment from Khosla Ventures. Here are some of the lessons that Narrative has learned along the way.

Make it mobile. The Clip was an exceptionally mobile device, an early wearable. But unlike other modern wearables such as the forthcoming Apple Watch, the Clip needed to sync with a PC or Mac. That will change in the next version, which will include Wi-Fi for speedy syncing of photos directly with a smartphone.

From preservation to participation. When it was marketed as a life-logging camera, company executives made the case that the device could be used to recall people you met or job your memory abou interesting things that you wanted to later recall. But as it turns out, most people's lives are filled with long stretches of little happening that's photo. Now the company is emphasizing the Clip's ability to capture images during times consumers know will be meaningful but yet allow them to remain part of the action without having to stop, retrieve a camera, focus and shoot.

Anticipate different scenarios. True to its name, original Narrative Clip was envisioned to be attached to a shirt collar or between the buttons of a button-down shirt; hence it came with one mount, a clip. Narrative has found, though, that customers want to mount its products ot lots of different things--shirts, hats, cars, even dogs. As a result, Narrative is planning to release files that let customers 3D-print their own mounts for a wide range of capture possibilities.

In addition to the new mounts and Wi-Fi, the Clip 2 will include a higher-resolution sensor and a wider lens to capture more of the action. And at $200, it still isn't a product that most people see the need for just yet.That said, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, at least one company was showing a very similar competitor. If it keeps listening to customers, though, Narrative may soon tell the story of an early wearable breakthrough.

Published on: Jan 31, 2015