Group Story is a new photo service that’s centered around building photo books collaboratively with other people who photographed the same event. For example, the parents of a soccer team could pool photographs together and create a photo book documenting the soccer season.
Everything is done through a simple web interface, and after photographs are uploaded, you can use any of the photographs in the group to create a page. Once pages are created, you can use any of the pages in the group to create a physical photo book.
The resulting 8×8 inch books cost $13 for 20 pages in a softcover format, and $25 for hardcover. Additional pages are 50 cents each. There isn’t currently any feature for sharing the resulting books through the web, but providing an embeddable photo book that users can post online and/or link to might be a good future feature.
Some of the larger players in the photo space are also thinking hard about making photos more collaborative and social. Just early last month Facebook acquired group photo sharing service Divvyshot.
Mopho is a new photo sharing service with a strange name — until you realize it’s a domain hack using Tonga’s ccTLD, making it mopho.to.
The idea is similar to more established location based services such as Foursquare or Gowalla, but rather than sharing your locations via check-ins and then adding photos, you share a geotagged photograph through the iPhone application. You can download the free application here.
Once you capture a photo, geotag its location, and publish it through the app, your friends will be notified through their apps, the Mopho website, or Facebook.
The photo and location service spaces are both extremely crowded with 800-pound gorillas in each. I don’t think Mopho offers enough to rise above its competition, but it might succeed in developing a small, enthusiastic community of users like all the other services in the long tail of these spaces.
LensVector, a Silicon Valley startup working on novel lens technology, has received its latest round of funding from In-Q-Tel, a not-for-profit venture firm that invests for the sole purpose of boosting US intelligence capability by providing the CIA with state-of-the-art information technology.
So what’s LensVector developing that CIA would want? Lenses that focus electronically with no moving parts.
Here’s a diagram by LensVector showing how their tiny autofocus lenses work compared to traditional technology:
Rather than using mechanical parts to focus a lens, LensVector uses electricity to align liquid crystals to a desired shape, which focuses light to a particular point.
Given the CIA’s interest in this technology, it must be working pretty well. Hopefully we’ll see this introduced to consumer cameras that need it (i.e. cell phones) soon.
A fun fact: another startup that received In-Q-Tel funding was Keyhole, Inc., the geospatial data visualization company that was acquired by Google in 2004. Their flagship product, Earth Viewer, was turned into Google Earth.
NachoFoto is a new image search engine that attempts to deliver relevant results for a specific kind of query traditional search engines haven’t focused on: dynamic keywords.
These are keywords for which the resulting photographs should change over time.
For example, if someone searched for “tiger woods” this past week, they were likely looking for photographs of him at the Masters. However, traditional search engines such as Google returned exactly the same images as they did the week before. A quick Google search for “Tiger Woods” shows many images of him, but nothing specifically from this week. A NachoFoto search of the same term returns photographs ordered by freshness.
Another example would be the searches for “earthquake”. Those who search for the term “earthquake” prior to a major disaster would have greatly different expectations than those who searched for the term immediately after. As of now, Google does not offer any way to sort or filter by time in their image search.
Traditional services like Google built their reputation upon relevancy, but newer services such as Twitter have demonstrated that the ability to surface “trending” topics is important to users as well.
This new service is an interesting look at a feature image search engines should have, but unless someone acquires NachoFoto, it probably won’t stand a chance if the feature is added to existing search engines.