Shoebox service digitises photos and papers and puts them on the internet
A New Zealand tech entrepreneur with Silicon Valley finance has helped turn iPhones into pocket photo scanners that can rival commercial archivists.
Kiwi ex-pat and co-founder of website 1000memories.com Jonathan Good launched the Shoebox scanning application in San Francisco last week.
The mobile application is the first of its kind and allows users to easily digitise collections of photos, letters or other documents and upload them to the internet, Good said.
"This is the first time people are going to have a scanner in their pocket. We're turning everyone's iPhone into a scanner," he said. "You scan an old photo ... we detect the edges, do some fancy maths and turn that into the image. On top of that, it's instantly added to [our] website and shared with family and friends."
Good said the sharpness of the camera in the new iPhone 4S meant the app could digitise photos at the same quality as a professional scanning service.
Users also have the opportunity to add captions and other information to a photo when it is uploaded.
Good said the public was already using smartphones to archive physical photos, but claimed Shoebox streamlined the whole process.
"Trying to line up four sides of the screen with four edges of the photo can be pretty tough and we realised we could do this for them, and could algorithmically spot [the edges of the photo], and frame it," he said. "We figured if people are doing it already and it isn't perfect and we could build an even better version then that would be super popular."
1000Memories.com went live last year and allows the family and friends of someone who has died to share stories, photos and videos of their loved one online.
In February, 1000Memories attracted angel investors, raising US$3 million ($3.7 million) from Silicon Valley's long-established Greylock Partners and the financial backers of Twitter and Google. Since then, Good said the website had expanded to be a more general "memory-sharing" platform.
"People don't just want to get up the ones of people who have passed away, they want to save all their amazing photos, whether it's of childhood memories or elderly relatives," he said.
Both the Shoebox app and access to the website remain free with no advertising and Good said the project was not making money at this point. There are plans to charge fees for new premium services, but for now he is focused on "building something really awesome that people really like".
"The cool part of being in Silicon Valley is we have amazing investors who believe in what we're doing. They believe in the overall economics ... they believe it can be free and still worthwhile."
* Scanning application for iPhone.
* Allows users to digitise photos, letters or other documents and upload them to the internet by using the iPhone's inbuilt camera.
* The service detects the edges of an image and frames it. It allows users to add captions and other information to a photo when it is uploaded.
* Launched by Jonathan Good of 1000memories.com.