Mok Oh wants to create a “Smart Photo Album.” I think it may well be the killer app for Google Glass.
The most talked-about gadget of the moment, proudly displayed by only a handful of carefully selected early users, The Glass has many detractors, skeptics, and adulators. John C. Dvorak thinks Google Glass is a “world-class hoax.” Google’s Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt, finds it “a little weird,” Reuters reports. But Robert Scoble threatens never to take them off.
Saturating the cyberwaves with grainy photos (including of himself showering with the Glass), Scoble predicts: “If Google Glass is as big a deal as I think it will be, humans will generate much more data than they do today.” I’m not sure how big a deal Google Glass will be, but I recently made a similar prediction, expecting “a new quantitative and qualitative leap in the growth of data.” The Internet of Things is the main culprit in this new acceleration of data growth, and the “Things” generating and consuming data 24/7 include wearable devices such as Google Glass, the Pebble, and Apple’s rumored iWatch.
The nascent debate around Google Glass (including its privacy implications and whether it is different from a smart phone) has centered on how easy it is to take pictures with it. It’s a continuation—and possibly a step change—of the trend that started with the integration of digital cameras with mobile phones. Putting a camera in our pocket has resulted in the more than 300 million photos Facebook users upload every day. We take four times more pictures per day than we did ten years ago, says 1000memories Blog.
“In the midst of the 3.5 trillion photos that have ever been taken,” says Jonathan Good of 1000memories, “it’s easy to forget that the shoebox or album of old photos we have at home is incredibly fragile and special.”
In that fragility and significance, Mok Oh found his new calling. I wrote about Oh before, most recently when he left PayPal and joined North Bridge Venture Partners. He told me then he wanted to look at big data from the consumer’s perspective and turn data quantity into quality. This week, Oh shared with me the news that the first product of his new startup, Moju Labs, is a smart photo album.
“We are trying to re-imagine what a photo album can be,” says Oh. “There are certain things we never want to forget, they define who we are. But they are buried in mounds of stuff. Our mission is to help you rediscover beautiful memories by leveraging our expertise in big data, machine learning, pattern recognition, and natural language processing.”
At this early stage, Oh is keeping a lot of the details to himself. But it looks like Moju Labs’s smart album platform will consists of a “beautiful and engaging” front-end and an intelligent back-end that will structure unstructured data associated with each photo and will combine it with “natural” user input (e.g., making a note, liking or disliking) to categorize images and weave them into meaningful “stories.” The smart album will create for its users “contextually relevant stories,” for example a story created and sent to grandparents about their grandchildren. Another example Oh brings up (and wants the Smart Album to emulate) is his colleague’s dad who got into the habit of sending her “Monday Memories,” a weekly collection of photos/memories from his photo archives.
“We will put something out there as soon as possible,” says Oh, “and keep it as Beta, trying to understand how people use it, and iterate through it.” His co-founder and CTO is Justin Legakis (ex-Palantir and Google), and their first hire as VP of Products is Andrew Holt. Fredo Durand of MIT is an advisor.
Maybe they will help us make sense of the new avalanche of photos we are about to unleash. Says Scoble (on Google+): “I see Glass as part of a contextual system, one that uses an Internet of Things, but also brings data from your own businesses in along with big data computation that will find new patterns to display on our glass.” As in stories told by Moju Labs’ Smart Album?
[Originally published on Forbes.com]