Seene app shows off the world in glorious 3D

You know you’ve made it when you’ve featured on the likes of Mashable, TechCrunch, The Verge, The Next Web and Daily Mail, without spending anything on marketing except your own time.

That’s what three Kiwis and a Londoner have achieved with their 3D photo app Seene, which began under their company Harmonypark in 2005, which has now evolved to become Obvious Engine.

The company is interested in helping people better connect with and understand the world they see via their mobile phone, says CEO and co-founder Andrew McPhee.

The Seene app is a more interactive and responsive medium then the traditional photo format and let people do something that wasn’t previously possible without expensive hardware or specialist processing via a server, he says.

“The computer vision technology that we have developed that powers Seene is much more complex than anything that has existed within a service of this type in the past. For us it represents our first consumer mobile product that can have true global scale.” 

The app captures image and depth information as users move their phones around a photo subject. That information is then merged to create a lifelike 3D photo.

McPhee and fellow Kiwis Mike Evans and Ebony Charlton collaborated on the original technology in 2005 with Londoner Sam Hare, who at the time was finishing a PhD in computer vision.

The first project was an experimental app that tracked banknotes in a video feed and made them into a talking animation. It then licensed some of he technology behind the app, which McPhee says gave them insight into the possibilities of using computer vision on mobiles “to provide delight and utility”.

Seene’s Tumblr is a showcase of what people have captured using the app. The app was closing in on 700,000 downloads within three weeks of launching.

McPhee says Seene seems to have made the first move in social sharing of 3D photos. “If you compare us to Instagram, we are different because we let you share the world as it actually looks, not as a flat representation. If you compare us to other 3D capture solutions, we are social. We have developed a 3D photo format that is inherently shareable.”

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