Between VR lurking around the corner and users eager to enhance their visual experience beyond the flat 2 D photo lies a vast landscape of opportunities. One that Paris- based company Photonomie is jumping to occupy with the introduction of its real-time photo stitching app. Far beyond the horizontal panorama but without the need of wearing VR goggles, Photonomie offers anyone with a smartphone the possibility to create and enjoy a full 360 immersive experience right on their mobile. No connections needed. We caught up with one of its founders, Arnaud Jardin, to learn more:
– A little about you, what is your background?
I am 26. I live in Paris, where I had my first entrepreneur experience during college.
Then I finished law school and jumped into political communication for two years. But I have always dreamed about developing my own business, so now I’m here.
– Explain Photonomie. What does it solve?
Photonomie is the first immersive photo app in real-time. It gives you the opportunity to capture a moment up to 360 degrees in a few seconds and share it immediately. The recipient can move into the picture and feel like he is there. Existing apps like Google Street View are not as user-friendly. They are slow. You need several minutes to see the result and it’s dissuasive in a lot of situations, like traveling. We are convinced that real-time stitching is the technological breakthrough that will make immersive photography able to become a new photo standard. It is the first step toward virtual reality on mobile.
– Do you have to be connected to render the files or is it native?
Our 3D stitching is native and that’s a strong asset compared to other apps. You can be in the middle of the desert without any connection and take a Photonomie to capture the moment. Your Photonomie will be uploaded and shareable as soon as you find an internet spot.
– Can it be viewed by anywhere without a plugin?
Absolutely. All the Photonomies are uploaded on our servers so once you share it, people can watch it from any connected device: mobile, tablet, computer.
– How well does it work on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest)?
All social media are compatible for when you share a Photonomie, you actually share a HTML link. In addition, we have a special feature with Facebook. Specific thumbnails are automatically generated. The next big step is to recognize your mobile’s movements directly from the Facebook feed, so you don’t need to click on the link anymore to move into the picture!
– Do you consider Photonomie as a new photo format ? Do you see, for example, Photonomie available in Nikon or Canon cameras like JPEG or Tiffs?
Not really. Photonomie is a new way to create and visualize pictures which doesn’t depend on a specific file format. For instance, video is different from photography because it’s moving images, but the mov. or avi. format doesn’t matter. So a Photonomie is currently a JPEG but it could have been a Tiff. too. What defines Photonomie is the way of capturing in real time and projecting the image through a 3D object.
– There are other new ways of consuming photos ( Gif, Apple live, cinemagraphs, 3D ). What makes yours indispensable?
Virtual reality is the next imaging revolution and everybody is craving for it. People want to try VR, but nobody has the device for it. That’s why we have developed a comparable experience for mobile phones, which are the most popular devices ever !
– Who is your typical user? Who did you have in mind when you built Photonomie?
The typical Photonomie user is a 18-30 photo enthusiast. He/she takes photos every day with his phone and shares them in text messages, Messenger, Instagram. They look for new photo experiences and share special moments within their network.
– Do you feel it’s an advantage or disadvantage to be based in France?
For the last months, France has lived a real startup revolution which is a great advantage for us. The government programs like “FrenchTech” has provided us financial support and the ecosystem has increased like nowhere else in Europe. Nevertheless, the US are probably the best place for the next steps.
– What would you like to see Photonomie do that technology cannot yet deliver?
Definitely I would love Photonomie to make real-time immersive videos one day. For this purpose, the algorithm would need to make the difference between static and moving elements when it stitches the image. It’s tricky, but it could happen quicker than we think.
You can download the Photonomie app for iOS here, Android version coming soon.
Author: Paul Melcher
Paul Melcher is the founder of Kaptur and Managing Director of Melcher System, a consultancy for visual technology firms. He is an entrepreneur, advisor, and consultant with a rich background in visual tech, content licensing, business strategy, and technology with more than 20 years experience in developing world-renowned photo-based companies with already two successful exits.