One of the more amazing things about our smartphones is that they don’t just put the capabilities of computers and cameras into small, portable form factors, they also leverage the combination of being both these things to give ordinary users the access to tools which previously required advanced photoshopping skills. Case in point: today, a new application called Groopic is launching which lets you take group pictures that also include the photographer snapping the photo.
Over the July 4th weekend at the beach, a gaggle of teenagers near me were snapping iPhone photos of each other standing in front of the waves. I overheard one lament, “I thought you wanted to take a photo with me!” I do, the other had replied, explaining that she also wanted a picture of the others together. The group then rearranged themselves into various configurations over and over so everyone got to be in a picture next to their friends.
Groopic could have solved their problem of wanting a group photo – well, so could have handing their phone over to one of the many beachgoers packed onto the crowded sand, I suppose. But maybe the teens didn’t want to bother anyone, or risk some stranger dropping their phone in the surf.
So instead, they just missed out on a real group photo.
Designed by a company called Eyedeus Labs, Groopic uses patent-pending technology developed by a team of five that includes nearly two PhD’s (one is just wrapping his up, explains CEO Ali Rehan). Combined, the team has over 25 years of experience in computer vision research.
The company is focused on creating a new genre of camera-based applications that use computer vision, Rehan tells us. “Using our computer vision technology, we aim to bridge the gap between vision research and industry and, in turn, reshape how people interact with smartphones and cameras,” he says.
Launching first on iPhone, Groopic is the company’s first product. The app is targeted at those aged 18 to 34 – the ones who take the most smartphone photos. Using the app is simple enough. In three steps, users take two photos with their iPhone, then mark the photographers in each one. Groopic then does its magic to automatically combine these incomplete pictures into one.
There are some limitations to the technology, of course. The app requires you stand or sit to the left or right of the group if you’re the one whose image is being swapped out. But, as the clever in-app tutorial teaches you, actually mashing up the two photos only take a few taps. Snap the photos. Tap the photographers (no need to drag your finger around to outline them, just tap them.) And you’re done.
Rehan says the research team is also involved with prototyping other new technology, and currently has a number of proof of concepts built on PCs which are being ported to smartphones. “Right now, we have some really interesting ‘natural user interface’ gaming demos on cellphones,” he teases.