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Questions for a founder : Narrative

Even our cell phones cameras could one day be replaced by new tools which will make the process of taking picture even easier and less disruptive. Narrative, with its wearable camera, is in the process of disrupting everything we thought we knew about photography. We caught up with its co-founder and CEO Martin Källström so we could find out what the immediate future holds. Martin will be speaking  at the LDV Vision Summit on June 4 in New York

But first, a little intro/explanation video :

How to use the Narrative Clip and App from Narrative on Vimeo.

– In a few words, what is Narrative?

Martin Källström, Founder and Ceo of Narrative
Martin Källström, Founder and Ceo of Narrative

Narrative is your photographic memory, consisting of a tiny wearable camera and a smartphone app. The camera automatically captures two photos a minute, and the app elegantly organizes all those photos into a timeline that is easy to navigate so that the amount of photos never
becomes overwhelming.

– What made you decide to create it ?

I’ve always been looking for ways to document my life more, a wish that became even stronger when I realized how quickly my kids are growing up. Narrative sits perfectly between the big trends of wearables and photos as the driving force of social media, a lot of people have been envisioning a wearable camera and this felt like the perfect timing to actually create it.

– Can you tell us how it is funded ? How big is the team currently?

We are funded by Passion Capital in London, True Ventures in San Francisco, LDV Capital in NYC and angels. We also raised half a million dollars on Kickstarter. The team is 25 people right now, we hired 8 people so far this year.

– What do you think is the number one appeal for people to use narrative?

It’s definitely that you can capture photos without having to think about it. People use it for sports activities, parties, family outings, travel. The real benefit is that you can be fully present experiencing whatever you do, you never have to take yourself out of the moment to snap a photo.

– Where do people typically share narrative images ? In social media, in emails, in print ? Or do they tend to keep them for themselves?

Most photos are kept private, but people share them to twitter and instagram as well. People use the hashtag #narrativeclip for that, check it out on https://tagboard.com/narrativeclip/163608

results of a #narrativeclip  search
results of a #narrativeclip search

– How many pictures do a typical user produce in a day/week/month ?

60% of our users use Narrative once per week, producing over 1000 photos in that session. 30% of our users use Narrative every other day or more, which is a lot if you compare to GoPro owners of which many only use it twice a year or less.

– Who do you see is your typical user ?

Typically it is either a person that wants to collect memories and share to a tight social circle of their closest friends and family, or it is someone who want to show much more of their lives in social media and want photos captured effortlessly for sharing.

– People fear that Narrative could be another tool against privacy since you don’t know you are being photographed. What do you say to them ?

There is definitely a need for new social protocols in regards to wearable cameras. Narrative was designed from ground up with respect for people’s integrity in mind. Wearable cameras will happen with or without Narrative, and a big value we can provide is to set a high bar for other companies in how they need to think about personal integrity.

Examples of photos taken by the Narrative Camera
Example of photos taken by the Narrative Camera

– Do you foresee a world where every instant of every human being is being recorded for posterity ? How will that affect our behaviors?

Definitely not. People will always need to take time off from being connected or recorded. Memories are very precious for me and I wish I knew more about how it really was when I was a kid. But there’s a balance to everything and most people use Narrative for weekends, travel or sports activities. It’s not for everybody to take lifelogging to the extreme. Photos already affect our behaviors to a large extent, we go out of our way to capture them and share them. The impact I want Narrative to have is to allow people to be more present with each other, not having to think about facebook and instagram until later on when they want to share photos of what they experienced together.

– Narrative takes a lot of pictures. How can  one quickly sort out the most interesting ones ?

We segment your stream of photos into what we call “moments”, based on a clustering of the ambient colors in the pictures. Then we give each photo a quality score and use the highest scoring photo as a cover photo for each moment. This way you get a timeline of cover photos that is easy to navigate, but you can tap into any moment to browse the full set of photos from that point in time.

– What will be a sure sign of success ?

When the astronauts on International Space Station use Narrative to document and share their daily lives in space.

– Do you expect Narrative to replace the point and shoot, DSLR and cell phone camera eventually ?

Each form factor has it’s own uses. Of course there’s competition between different kinds of usages but the wearable camera can neither replace or be replaced by DSLRs or mobile phones. The point and shoot however, I think is dead if you look at long term.

– What keeps you up at night ?

So many people tell us that a wearable automatic camera has been a dream throughout their lives. There’s still a lot of work to do to create a completely effortless and seamless experience, but the possibility of making that dream come through for so many people is fantastic.

– What would you like to add to Narrative today that can’t be done because of technology restrictions?

The timelapse that Narrative captures is basically low-framerate video. I would like to have the ability to record some days of my life in full frame rate video and have that video edited automatically into the highlights for sharing and remembering. It’s basically what we’re doing already but battery performance and memory size constraints sets the limitations.

To learn more about Narrative, you have two options: Register for the LDV Vision Summit on June 4 and meet Martin in person or/and visit Narrative‘s website ( you don’t get to meet Martin but you get to buy one)

Author: Paul Melcher

Paul Melcher is the founder of Kaptur. He is an entrepreneur, advisor, consultant with a strong background in licensing, copyright, sales, marketing and technology with more than 20 years experience in developing world-renowned photo based companies with two successful exits. Named one of the “100 most influential people in photography” by American Photo magazine.

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