A startup is trying to make it simpler to find photos of you that were taken by people you know and professional photographers by using a combination of facial recognition, GPS, and time-stamping to track the images down.
Waldo, a startup based in Austin, Texas, plans to release a smartphone app in two to three months that asks you to snap a selfie. It then uses that selfie—along with your locations over time—to figure out if any photos have been taken of you at, say, a rock concert or a wedding that have been shared with Waldo. Any photos it finds are then dropped into an album in the app on your smartphone, and an alert will let you know that they’ve arrived.
The company, which recently received $5 million in funding in a round led by venture capital firm Upfront Ventures, plans to release Waldo as a free iPhone app initially (an Android version is in the works). Users will be able to share their own photos with the app, so friends can ask Waldo to find any that they’re in, and any photos of you that Waldo finds can then be downloaded or shared on social media. There will also be a way to let the app know who your friends are, so that if users allow it to, it can proactively sort through their images and ask if it’s okay to share them with you.
“We’re going to make it really painless to get those so you’re not constantly nagging and saying, ‘Hey, will you text me that photo from that party the other night?’” CEO and cofounder Rodney Rice says.
Facial recognition for photos is already available in a number of consumer-geared applications, such as Facebook, which can recognize your friends in photos you upload, and Facebook’s Moments app, which uses the technology to find you in photos that others have taken and suggests you send images of your friends to them.
Waldo isn’t just aiming at consumers, though. It’s also trying to entice professional photographers, some of whom are currently participating in a private beta test of its service, by allowing them to use the app to sell images to people they photograph at events. At a music festival, for instance, a photographer might take a photo of you that Waldo can then surface, and if you like a watermarked proof of it, you can buy a copy of the image.
If you don’t have the app, Waldo will also support texting to find images, Rice says, so a photographer could hand you a card with a special hashtag on it and a number that you could text it to (along with a selfie) to see if any photos of yourself have been uploaded at, say, a baseball game.
Not surprisingly, the app plans to take a cut of the revenue that photographers bring in by selling images through the app.