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overheard1Did your child just say something so cute you wished you had recorded it? Or did your boss just make a comment so outlandish that you want it saved forever?

Well, now there’s an app for that.

Seattle-based A.R.O., a three-year-old startup backed by Paul Allen, has launched an app called OverHeard that continuously records the last three minutes of audio around you.

The app captures, buffers and saves sound in 15-, 30-, 60- or 3-minute increments. If you just heard something that you want saved, OverHeard stores the last three minutes of recording. Users can also add sound effects, titles and hashtags to individual clips.

A.R.O. describes OverHeard as an app like Vine, but for audio instead of video. Much like Vine, OverHeard has created a social community around its product and encourages people to share their clips with others.

The idea for OverHeard came about during a Seahawks game last year.

“Our offices are right across the street from CenturyLink Field, and as kick-off approached, we were blown away by how loud it was in our offices,” A.R.O. CEO Andy Hickl said. “We all thought this would be a sound worth sharing, but realized there wasn’t an easy way to do so. Once the idea took place, we built OverHeard to capture and share those sounds with others.”

A.R.O. CEO Andy Hickl.
A.R.O. CEO Andy Hickl.

While it may be cool to capture your baby’s first words or something hilarious your friend said at the bar, there are also more serious problems that this app can potentially create — especially when others don’t know you’re recording. For example, perhaps Donald Sterling’s girlfriend could have used OverHeard when Sterling made those racist comments that eventually led to a lifetime ban from the NBA for the Los Angeles Clippers owner.

Hickl said that A.R.O. takes privacy “very seriously,” and notes that no audio recordings are saved to its server.

“Regardless of our promises, we’re racing towards a future where you’re not going to be able to avoid sharing personal data that you wouldn’t necessarily have put out on the Internet yourself,” he added. “My Nest knows whether I’m home or not. My Nexus 5 is sitting here waiting for me to say, “OK, Google” — and it knows where I live, work, and play. My iPhone has a list of all of the street addresses I’ve been to over at least the last 30 days. And thanks to Firefly, my Amazon Fire Phone is going to know about the stuff I buy, whether I bought it from Amazon or not. A.R.O. will continue to be open and transparent with regards to user privacy because it’s the right thing to do.”

A.R.O. has a few other similar lifelogging products. Saga, for example, records everything from the places you’ve been to the activities you do and uses that data to provide contextual notifications at the time you need them. The company’s next app, Brightly, uses sensors to help you keep track of your sun exposure over time.

The startup employs 37 and is backed by Allen himself, not Vulcan Capital, his investment arm.

Update, 11:50 a.m.: This story was updated with comments from Hickl.

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