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What’s next for visual story telling?

Meet Storyo, the Portuguese company that is committed to revolutionize the way visual content is created and shared

The future of visual story telling session at Mobile Photo Connect this year will feature Filipe Vasconcellos, CEO of Storyo, a startup that is tackling the challenges involved in building and sharing visual memories. To learn more about this startup’s technology we interviewed Manuel Costa, the company’s CTO.

Storyo founder, Manuel Costa
Storyo founder, Manuel Costa

Why did you create Storyo?

Back in 2014,  we developed our first algorithms for solving what we realized to be a challenging puzzle: how to automatically generate visual narratives in the form of enticing video stories? Ideally, these algorithms could really change the way we create and share our experiences and memories – we just had to build the technology to eliminate the chaos of too much visual information with which so many smartphone users are struggling!

And here we are in 2016 with several patents pending, plus an app that solves this puzzle and is being used by consumers in more than 170 countries.

You mentioned automatically created visual narratives. How exactly are they generated and how does Storyo assure that these narratives are accurate?

Our starting point is an unlimited set of photos and the hidden information associated with these photos – the metadata. In essence, our proprietary storytelling algorithms categorize a user’s camera roll photos based on space and time  and then select the best ones.

First, these algorithms arrange the photos into a segmentation hierarchy, as if writing a story divided into chapters and sub-chapters. The length of the resulting video story – 15, 30 or 60 seconds – is determined by an event tree module that uses an advanced data mining system to analyze the variability of the photo set.


Automate storytelling engine by Storyo

Second, after categorizing and clustering the photos, our algorithms then select the best ones, using a scoring system based on computer vision and applying variables such as focus, exposure, face detection and deletion of duplicates.

We are very proud of how accurate we can categorize the photos and produce these stories. And that’s essential, as we’re talking about people’s personal experiences and intimate memories!

What’s the magic sauce for making a video story enticing to watch?

It’s a mix of technology, data and context. Leveraging the photos’ metadata and artificial intelligence, there are fascinating unexplored stories just waiting to be told. To make these stories compelling, we needed to keep in mind that an enticing visual representation is key to our users, i.e. we should offer them a more compelling experience than they’d get with standard automated slideshows.

As Storyo is in its core story-centric, it automatically also includes chapters, labels, maps, etc. when the visuals are shown through video stories. From the feedback we’re getting from our user base, that’s when the aha moment happens!

The visual  story telling  app Storyo
The visual story telling app Storyo

As we live in a real-time world, speed is vital. Does Storyo require the photos first to be uploaded to the cloud or does it work locally on the device?

The fact that today we can do everything on the smartphone device poses specific requirements for our technology. You can’t expect users to first upload their visual assets before the app generates a video story. So instead, we made the experience ultra fast: within seconds, story creation happens on the device itself, including video animations rendering in real-time, just like in a 3D game.

People already have supercomputers at their fingertips, so what we do is taking full advantage of each device’s computing power. The proliferation of multiple cores in smartphones allows for real-time data mining and, alongside with CPUs, we leverage the Graphics Cards to render directly on the device in a 3D environment.

What about the future? Where will Storyo be heading?

We’re working on Storyo 2.0 that will hit the ball out of the park in terms of social engagement. You’ll hear more about that at Mobile Photo Connect on October 25!

Photo by ♥ Donna ♥

Author: Hans Hartman

Hans Hartman is president of Suite 48 Analytics, the leading research and analysis firm for the mobile photography market and organizer of Mobile Photo Connect, a yearly industry conference about mobile photography.

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