EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK: Color has “real time” social camera competition: CoolIris LiveShare preview

One thing that caught my eye (beyond its $41 million in funding) about Color was its “social camera” capabilities. What do I mean by that?

Well, if you use Color, aim it at me in a room, it’ll add my name to your phone. How did it do that? Through the use of all the sensors to figure out we were in the same room, and you were taking a picture of me.

That’s pretty cool, when it works, but I think Color was pitched wrong.

What do I mean by that?

If it were me, I would have solved the problem of syncing photos between iphones and ipads. Just cure that pain and let people discover the other “social stuff” later that Color does.

Well, Cooliris, today, brings LiveShare which does that and more.

It is one of the coolest apps I’ve seen this year, you must watch the demo.

It’s NOT just a social camera, either.

Why did it get me so excited?

Because, say we’re at a wedding. I can have everyone there load up CoolIris Liveshare, and we can all share LIVE onto a single computer, or iPad. This is something I’ve never seen done before. I can’t wait to use this at a conference with a videowall. Photos can “pour” into the app live, from hundreds, or even, thousands of people shooting photos. Now, that isn’t that typical of a use case, but think of a birthday party, with 15 friends and family shooting photos. All showing up on a big screen instantly. All being shared with each other instantly.

This is a big deal and why, today, Color has new competition.

By the way, the system demoed here is not out yet, it will ship between now and August.

Here’s more, from Rackspace’s Building 43, reprinted with permission:

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LiveShare: instant photo sharing from Cooliris

Photo sharing on the web has been around for years. Sites like Flickr, Facebook, Picasa and Snapfish provide a wealth of options for uploading images and making them available to friends and family. None of these sites, however, allows instant, real-time sharing across multiple devices. Cooliris is making that possible with its new app called LiveShare.

“Back in 2006, we started Cooliris with the goal to transform the way people experience media on the web,” explains Austin Shoemaker, Co-Founder and CTO of Cooliris. “And that’s brought us to a point where we’re really excited to show you what we’ve been working on—a new product called LiveShare that’s all about visual communication and enabling people to interact around media in a way that’s more natural and really thinking about the context of the message that you’re sending.”

The LiveShare application allows you to create an event and share photo streams related to that event. Anyone you invite to join the event can view the photos instantly as well as contribute their own photos. The app is currently available for the iPhone and iPad as well as any web browser that supports HTML5, but the company has plans to expand to other devices in the future.

“It’s a cross device, user-centric experience,” says Shoemaker. “When you jump into LiveShare, you can do that from your phone, from your tablet or from your web browser, and it’s the same experience with the same information and media. However you come in, you’ve got your personal world right there. If you’re on your phone, you’re more likely to capture photos and videos, so you could just take pictures and take videos, and those are instantly synced to the cloud. So you go back home, and those photos and videos are available for you to browse, present, and share to groups or social networks. We think this is going to be a great way to really connect all the different parts of your life.”

LiveShare achieves instant syncing by first syncing a low resolution version of the photo, but it follows that initial sync with the full resolution image. “One of the decisions we made,” says Shoemaker, “was we want people to be able to use this as their primary camera, so when you’re taking pictures, you’re not compromising on quality.”

You can also share text messages, videos and links from your browser. Links can be viewed right in the app using a minibrowser, or you can jump out to your full browser. And as location is a big part of the context of any event, the app allows you to geotag all of your messages.

Images and video are just the beginning for LiveShare. “In the first version, we’re only going to support image and video attachments,” explains Shoemaker. “In the future, we’re going to allow any kind of documents. The idea is if you’re sharing say a Photoshop file of a mockup, you should be able to drag and drop that on your group and they should be able to open it on the other side.”

More info:

LiveShare web site: http://www.liveshare.com/
Cooliris web site: http://www.cooliris.com/
Cooliris on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Cooliris
Cooliris profile on CrunchBase: http://www.crunchbase.com/company/cooliris

About Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, I travel the world with Rocky Barbanica looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology and report that here.

12 thoughts on “EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK: Color has “real time” social camera competition: CoolIris LiveShare preview

  1. One point. They might need a slight pivot. I have already suggested that they should be allowing companies to create events that anyone can live share photos to. That makes more sense to see a stream of photos and is also a use case on where they kick Color’s ass. They currently do that within the app where I believe they have created the events in partnership with people and we get to watch and/or add a few random pics to it. Like the Royal wedding. People were snapping pics with their wishes for the royal couple.

    Your point about who wants to be snapping photos is obsolete. You must be on facebook right? Have you seen the number of people that put up their drunk and wild party pics up? 

    But let’s say you are right for a moment. Where is the personal use case. You’ve probably been on trips with friends where you guys are snapping pics. The standard line is “upload the pics to FB!” followed by the inevitable, one week later, “Dude where are the pics???” I think you can see how this would solve it. It’s a lot simpler than the smartphone FB system if you’ve used it and that helps A LOT! 

    Another use case? Sharing with people who aren’t around. Color fails here by the way. I want to share my lone trip with family and a few other friends. This.. plain.. rocks! Trust me. They just need a way to view it on the web too without an FB login and it’s solid unbreachable as an experience.

  2. I won’t comment the use case here, even though I m highly doubtful… 
    I do not get why you re so excited about the technology. Chat in the browser s been here for a decade… If you can push text in real time, you can push any media in real time. If the technology is to actually upload first a low res and then a high res pix, it is pretty lame. If they actually do use the first low res picture to not resend the full high res picture by assembling them on the back end, it would actually be called technology…

    Anyway, I always like watching your videos of startups in the bay area. Thanks

  3. I’ve been working on a similar idea for a couple months now and its interesting to see others try to solve the same problem from a different angle. http://www.tracks.io which launched yesterday is also a similar (probably better than LiveShare) app.

    Looks like we are going to see some real competition for the real-time in-context photo sharing space.

  4. Color only has competition in a world where anyone actually uses Color.  In fact, if you had simply written about LiveShare, most people probably wouldn’t even think about Color…

  5. Interesting.  One of the very first apps I enjoyed on Android was Google’s sky map.  Point it at a constellation in the night sky, a planet, a star, and on-screen it was identified.  Let’s see that in the real world.  Putting the name into a caption on a picture I’ve taken, well that’s nice … now let me scan around the room, and show me in real time who else has the same app.

  6. Heh! Whadya know. I beat you to this argument ;) http://techstopmuse.blogspot.com/2011/04/color-is-next-twitter-try-livestream.html 

    ignore the url saying livestream. I meant liveshare. blooper extreme. 

  7. On a personal level, I’m still having a hard time getting excited about seeing what just happened a second ago on a screen at a party, or at an event. If I’m at a party or event, I want to be there in the experience as it’s happening—not with my nose on a screen viewing it in pseudo-real time. If I shoot media to record the event, I really want to be able to easily find it and present it later—show me the interesting tools that can make those tasks easier. Better facial, spacial, and contextual recognition. 

    On a marketing level, sharing these experiences *elsewhere* in real time sounds pretty interesting. Your club patrons can snap media of all the sexy people they’re drinking and dancing with, then those photos can get auto-shared on the club’s website and Facebook page. Citizen journalists can share media of important events to CNN iReport and Newsvine, awesome.

    But where’s the iPhoto plugin or Picasa web app that can recognize my friend’s faces, attach their Twitter handles and Facebook profiles, chomp on the media geotags to figure out that we were all in the vicinity of an Apple Store at the same time, check the news for any significant events going on, and auto-suggest that we were attending the iPad 2 release?

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