Imagine pointing your smartphone's camera around a crowded stadium and being able to find your Facebook friends, seeing their location right there in front of you on the screen. Or, you're gazing at the Grand Canyon, and you see which spots are the most photographed by others taking pictures with their smartphone cameras. It's pretty amazing, and it can do so much more than that.
The technology is called CrowdOptic. Investors see how useful this can be, particularly for "focus-aware" advertising, analytics, and news reporting, to name a few. Their network of investors, such as Ray Lane, Silicon Valley Bank, and even the co-founder and CEO of CrowdOptic himself, Jon Fisher, have coughed up an additional $1 million in funding, bringing the grand total of funds raised to $3.5 million.
How CrowdOptic Works
The technology relies on the "focus data", data gathered from the GPS, accelerometer, and compass built into a variety of sources such as photo and video metadata gathered from various social networks, augmented reality glasses, and smartphones. Once you gather this data, CrowdOptic verifies the data's accuracy, and filters out spam photos, keeping it legitimate.
The data gathered is then used to determine a user's "sightline," basically the distance from the camera to the object being photographed. These are all stored for future use in order for the app to determine where the sightline intersections are, what they call "clusters." This gives the technology the ability to determine how many people were aiming their camera at that specific landmark or area. The clusters are comprised of people shooting the same object.
Great For Marketing
CrowdOptic's website states that the app is perfect for brands to see where the potential customer action is, giving them the power to reach these customers in ways that are contextually meaningful to the customer, tailored to their interests.
The technology can be used by brands to interact with the crowd around them: chat with them; poll the users; locate friends; and augmented reality. All of this possible because the users are pointing their phones in a specific location at a specific time.
Who's Using CrowdOptic?
According to Fisher, they are working with Australia-based Ticketek, a ticketing company who owns the CrowdOptic-built Friend Spotter app that locates your Facebook friends in an arena or stadium, as well as New Zealand-based Fora.tv, relying on CrowdOptic to share authenticated content from people at the presidential debates.
Is It A Good Idea?
Yes, it is a wonderful idea for brands and enterprises. It was able to show what the most photographed object at the London Olympics was (the ArcelorMittal Orbit observation tower that sits just outside the Olympic Stadium), and even where the most smartphone photographers gathered during Hurricane Sandy (a home that had been demolished and a downed tree).
The question really lies in where they intend to go from here. If they intend to inundate apps with "focus-aware" advertising, I'm not sure that users would be as snap-happy with their cameras.