Department of Information Science and Media Studies

Infomedia students to international challenge

The MIX students Maria Tysse Hordvik and Julie Sophie Teilstad Østbye participated with their LifeLens prototype at Lifelog Search Challenge 2023 in Greece.

@floschmaezz via Unsplash

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The Lifelog Challenge revolves around lifelogging, or recording and preserving life's moments through various digital devices. Their user-friendly prototype LifeLens, transformed the Lifelog Search with innovative UX/UI Design and was a big success.

For Maria and Julie, the journey to Greece began with a serendipitous introduction to the concept of lifelogging during their lecture in MIX202. Cathal Gurrin's (professor at Dublin City University and guest lecturer at Infomedia) captivating presentation on lifelogging set their curious minds in motion, ultimately leading them to participate in the competition. 

- No one of the students knew Cathal or anything about lifelogging (except technologies we are using, such as FitBit, taking photo's with our phone, etc.), Maria Tysse Hordvik begins.

- Cathal told us that he had been wearing a wearable camera for five years, where the camera took a picture every 20 seconds. Then we thought, that's a lot of photos! How does he have control over all that data? He then told us about the Lifelog Search Challenge, the international content-search competition that is performed on Cathals lifelogging data. We could not stop thinking about this competition because we were so curious about it even though we didn't understood what it was.


The duo's involvement was fueled by an inherent curiosity to understand how to manage vast amounts of lifelog data effectively. Recognizing the challenges posed by the competition's requirements, especially for novice users, Maria and Julie embarked on the journey to create a lifelogging search system that not only addressed these challenges but also introduced user-friendly functionalities.

- We realized that the users may not understand the systems in the Lifelog Search Challenge because they are too advanced and complex. We wanted a challenge, and me and Julie decided to participate in the competition with our system called LifeLens which is specifically developed for the novice user part, says Maria.

The students had big expectations for the competition. 

- We were nervous because we were the only ones who hadn't participated before, explains Maria.

- Our expectations were to achieve valuable learning opportunities and the chance to collaborate with experts from different fields. Of course we wanted to perform in the competition, but the main goal was being UX-designers in a professional context and designing a product that can be used in real life. At the university we never design for real customers, but now we got the chance to do that!

Dedication, confidence and innovative thinking

Despite facing challenges, such as understanding the intricacies of the competition and aligning their design ambitions with the technical capabilities, Maria and Julie remained resilient. Collaborating with skilled developers (from Dublin City University) was pivotal to their success. Their tenacity paid off as they secured fifth place, a testament to their dedication, confidence and innovative thinking.

- The presentation went well, it was short and precise, maybe 3 minutes. During the MIX study, we have luckily learned many methods for presenting our work and we have therefore been used to pitch and present in front of a crowd. At the conference we presented the system LifeLens, the design, backend and the features", explains Maria confidently.

Presenting Lifelens to a global audience was a transformative experience that bolstered their confidence in their own abilities.

- I think students should not take these possibilities for granted, you have to show that you are up for challenges."

Three hours of sleep

Reflecting on their journey, Maria and Julie are content with their results and the experience.

- Both me and Julie got so many positive experiences during our participation in the competition. We met so many nice and skilled people. We were also extremely happy about getting fifth place in the competition!

Rightfully so, after the students almost didn't make it to Greece in the first place.

- The flight to Thessaloniki was chaotic. I even sent a text to Tien (assoc prof at Infomedia and lecturer) and said that we were not able to participate in the competition. The flight from Oslo was delayed by three and a half hours, and in our thoughts there was no possibility that we could reach our layover in Serbia, the students explain, with the prospect of their hard work almost being in vain.

- We were so down and sad, but we gave it a try and were on the flight to Serbia three and a half hours after schedule. When we arrived in Serbia and saw that our flight to Thessaloniki hadn't departed yet, we ran through the whole airport, it was 3AM. We arrived in Thessaloniki at 5AM, and had to wake up 8AM to prepare for the competition. So, that we got fifth place with three hours of sleep is a miracle!

Just go for it!

With LifeLens, Maria and Julie have not only contributed to the evolving field of lifelogging but have also set a precedent for students eager to participate in academic contests. They advice other students to pursue their innovative ideas: 

- Just go for it, you won't regret it. Make a good and exact plan for how you want to spend your time on your commitments at the university and the other project. Prioritize your study, but with a good plan you can get excellent results in both, Maria concludes.

- Most people think it's scary to present something you've made for the first time. Well at least, I thought it was scary. But if you are prepared, show what you have made to your classmates, your family, lecturer and so on, then you get more confident and you have learned how to present your work to others. It will be more convincing that this product is good when you present it to professionals.