April 28, 2011

LiveShare Preps Real-Time Visual Communication Platform

Forget everything you think you know about the humdrummery of the competitive but me-too echo chamber of the social photo sharing space. While most of the world has gone gaga over faux artistry around filters that make amateur photographers feel like experts, CoolIris' LiveShare team has been creating one of the most intriguing visual platforms I've seen - taking what I already liked about their platform, including a fun way to share photos around events and groups and vaulting into a new world of real-time, with video, shared links, and text updates.

The result looks almost magical, even to the cynical observer who thinks he's seen everything.

Sitting in on a preview of their new platform, which is expected to become available in the next month or two, LiveShare looks like they've finally delivered on their name, as I saw the company's three cofounders create and share photos, video and URLs instantly between devices, and this content was available for immediate playback and interaction from the receiving party.

For all the hype about "real time" and "near real time" and instant, maybe the terms have gotten fuzzy, but if there was any kind of delay, to me it was imperceptible. When one person would hit publish, the item would immediately display on the other device. Multiple photos would cleanly lay themselves out in a sharp grid, and video never even considered buffering. The result is a new platform for real-time visual communications that I haven't seen anyone else attempt, and one that should be available on any modern platform, thanks to adherence to cutting-edge Web standards.

"By the time you move your finger from the button, it should show up," said Soujanya Bhumkar, explaining his interpretation of real-time.

In an internal note to the LiveShare development team, he wrote: "For the first time, you can capture moments and share them with friends and family with absolutely no delay at all - the instant your finger taps the camera icon your photo or video instantly appears in your personal stream on your phone, iPad and the Web even before the content is fully uploaded. No waiting, no uploading - there is nothing out there in this space that delivers such instant gratification."

LiveShare's origins are in the photo sharing space, and the company may be known for its media consumption, but as they said Wednesday, the natural evolution, based on user feedback, is to discover media highly relevant to the individual, and to assign social velocity to relevant people, so that instead of broadcasting to everyone or narrowcasting to a select few, you and your content is discoverable by those interested.

"If this is possible, my expectation for what live sharing is has completely changed," said Austin Shoemaker, cofounder and CTO of CoolIris. "No more progress bars and hourglasses. Reality and speed are matched to consumer expectations."

The new platform is engineered using WebGL on HTML 5, meaning that on day one, it works in Safari, Chrome, FireFox and Opera. Not only can you passively view content in the browser, but you can drag and drop content from your host PC onto any LiveShare stream and make it an active participant in any ongoing stream. "Consumption on the Web is not a second-class experience," Shoemaker added.

One doesn't have to think too hard about the dramatic use case of curating events around topics and locations with the new LiveShare platform, going beyond siloed areas for photos and other siloed areas for texts. As the company promises, they aren't trying to create yet another walled garden, but instead, to fill the gaps that remain in email and social networking. And I'll tell you, even for this Android-leaning geek, the demo of sharing content on the new LiveShare between two iPad 2s was so sleek, it was tempting to jump back on the bandwagon. Make sure you check out their demo video. It'll have you lusting after their new platform - coming soon.