Photobooks as mere collections of photos? That was yesterday! They should tell a story and help emotionally reflect – in a positive sense – what has been experienced. Storyo offers a software kit for app providers and fulfillers.
The photo print market is benefitting from a steadily increasing quantity of smartphone photos. I recently reported that in my article about the Canadian software producer Mediaclip. And if you look at how the major European players in this segment, like Cewe or Photobox, have evolved, the only direction that products with photos printed on them appear to be heading in is upwards. So let’s focus on smartphone photos. myPostcard, for example, harnesses photos from our mobile companions in the form of postcards – an “old-school print product”. Albelli acquired ReSnap in 2017, thereby purchasing an automated photobook production capability – also sources photos from smartphones and social media, but only uses the software for its own fulfillment purposes. Storyo wants to go down a slightly different route in future with a new application. That’s because the software is intended to be made available via interfaces to fulfillers and other photo print providers to enable the latter to add smartphone photobooks to their portfolios. This recent Portuguese start-up with its small team of developers put itself on the map with a software program that automatically generates a slideshow in video format from a smartphone photo collection. This is now being followed by a print application, which doesn’t require an own production capability, but which also draws on the same resource, namely smartphones.
The above-mentioned video generation software forms the basis of this new system. It has already been proven – several international awards, several hundred thousand app downloads and cooperation with Shutterstock. Video stories based on smartphone photos are now being followed by photobook production via mobile end devices. Doesn’t that already exist? Yes, but the difference is that other providers’ offerings are rarely automatic and rarely deliver in full what they promise. In my opinion that includes the incorporation of additional details that are contextually related to the photos and the experiences they portray. According to Storyo, features like map material, and weather data as well as social media posts are designed to provide storytelling that is, I shall term it, as “holistic” as possible. These are both features that have also been proven in the video slideshow application. Printable information is gathered via the link to Facebook and appropriate services.
“Smartphone photos provide a great source for print marketing. In this respect, anybody – like Storyo – that delivers the right concepts will be sure of their place in the sustainable mobile-to-print market.” – Bernd Zipper
Essentially Storyo’s set of programming tools (SDK) for automatic photobook production can be divided into 2 groups. The first incorporates artificial intelligence and is responsible for categorizing photos, both time- and location-wise, based on their metadata. User profiling is an objective that benefits the photo story. Storytelling is delivered by the second group of tools – a chosen set of photos is converted into a “storytelling strand” with a predefined number of pages and the above-mentioned features are added. And there you have your finished photobook, produced automatically from your own photos without the need for you to do any presorting. Software-wise the provider has a range of different templates at their disposal, for example, to define the quantity of photos per book page. The whole thing can be integrated via API into iOS and/or Android apps – i.e. an additional opportunity for developers and photo product providers to harness smart software for their own businesses.
But these automatically generated photobooks are not written irrevocably in stone – the producer has the option of subsequently amending photos, texts and additional data in the layout/design. This is also a feature that you could also communicate to customers as a tangible benefit, alongside “artificial intelligence”.
My take: some photobook production programs do not (any longer) live up to the expectations of many customers – they have to be innovative, time-saving and smart. Storyo has taken this on board, with the aim of furnishing online photo print providers with an in several respects smart automatic photobook production option in the form of compatible software. This Portuguese hotbed of software creativity uses proven algorithms for this purpose – but in this case with an actual relevance to print. I wonder how long it will take before some players recognize the benefits of Storyo’s new offering. That’s because some photo apps, even those from established online print providers, are no great shakes, and I am basing that on own experience as well as Playstore and App Store reviews. However I like this solution’s flexibility and look forward to hearing/reading about the first use cases.