The Way We Deal With Photos Is Broken. This Company Wants To Fix It.

The Way We Deal With Photos Is Broken. This Company Wants to Fix It

Think back to the last wedding you went to. Or the last birthday party. Even the last nice dinner. Odds are you took multiple photos, dozens even. Maybe you even uploaded one to Instagram. But have you looked at any of them since? Or sent them to anyone? Probably not. And, if you did, it wasn't particularly easy.

The way we take photos has changed in extraordinary ways over the last 100 years, evolving from a box and a plate to a chip and a sensor. But what we do with those images afterwards has remained pretty much unchanged. More often than not, we throw them in a box, either cardboard or byte-based, never to be looked at again — until, perhaps, our progeny discovers them in our attic (again, real or digital). It's an odd paradox that though we're taking more photos than ever, we tend not to look at them any more often. Fireside, a Palo Alto company that launches its first product today on Kickstarter, wants to change that by applying the same machine learning that Pandora and other companies have applied to content management. The idea is simple. Fireside's iOS or Android app pulls your photos and videos from any device or storage system you have — and includes your family's too — into a cloud-based "channel".

It's similar in functionality to apps like 23Snaps, except for one major difference: Fireside uses machine learning to organise your rolls "contextually", reading information not only about when and where they were taken, but also who and what are shown in each photo. Then it creates playlists of photos and videos organised around specific events and themes and pushes them onto a "smart" frame that pulls playlists via Wi-Fi onto its 15-inch, 1080p screen.

The Way We Deal With Photos Is Broken. This Company Wants to Fix It

There's obvious allure in a simple, mobile-accessible cloud storage system that brings together content from every device in your family and organizes them, too. Fireside's CEO Andy Jagoe explained yesterday that the user experience is directly informed by his experience as a new dad.

"When you have kids, so many things change. You have less time than ever before, and everyone in your whole family is asking you for links to pictures, new videos, and all these things come to a head at the same time," he said. "And we thought, there's got to be a better way."

The Way We Deal With Photos Is Broken. This Company Wants to Fix It
The Way We Deal With Photos Is Broken. This Company Wants to Fix It

Fireside wants to take all that contextual information about your photos and throw them back into the real world. That's a clear problem with a clear solution in the form of Fireside's app.

The frame is part of that solution, too. Designed by Fireside co-founder Don Lehman (a sometimes-contributor here at Gizmodo), it's a beautiful take on a product category that has long seemed like the dumber cousin of a computer monitor. It's slim and crystal clear, and the only real decorative flourish is on the back, in the form of a hoop-like stand that comes in chrome or copper. Clearly, the frame is designed to fade into the background, foregrounding the images and video themselves.

The Way We Deal With Photos Is Broken. This Company Wants to Fix It

Since Fireside is a Kickstarter, there are still plenty of questions about this as-of-yet-unreleased product will function. Digital photo frames haven't quite found a footing with consumers yet, and it's unclear if demand is there. Likewise, the app's sorting algorithm sounds wonderful, but we haven't seen it in action just yet, though the need for a frictionless photo storage and sorting app is certainly clear.

Still, Fireside's promise of fixing and resurfacing the morass of photos strewn across your phone, computer, storage systems and backup drives is intriguing. And if it can deliver on taming that beast with a little computer learning, it could mean never having to scroll through another messy, endless photo roll searching for that one photo again. Check it out on Kickstarter here.



    That's really nice, and at $99 a year for the service (I've yet to find a photo/video service that i would really use for free let alone pay for), that part is priced very well. But $240 to $300 for the device (+99 a year) seems a little high for a photo frame (though granted its closer to a tablet) perhaps using an old tablet would be more cost effective if the app does the same thing a the frame.

    Its great design work, the stand even resembles a paperclip.

      $99 a year??!! Holy crap, I thought it was tenuous at best to pay $340 for the frame, but they then want a further $99/year subscription for "contextual photos"??! Hell no. I'll stick to my media center displaying photos and video on a 50" 1080p display. What a ripoff product!!

        I take it though that its also paying for cloud storage/backup of unlimited photos.

        Flickr, onedrive, dropbox, box, mediafire, 500px, google drive/plus, + a dozen others i've tried all suck in one respect or another.

    Personally I prefer the idea of Electric Objects, they provide a larger display with smaller bezel and look more like genuine art, rather than a bulky photo frame. The connecting app is being created with similar ideas, where the art changes depending on the mood and special events, and while they cost a little more up front (retail $499 USD) they don't come with a yearly price cost to use your device.

    If you want a photo frame to disappear into the background, don't make it white :)
    Though I guess it will be available in various colours.

    I can't see shelling out AUD$10 per month for the service though.
    If it worked flawlessly, then maybe, but I can't see it managing it unless there has been a breakthrough in AI.
    The apple photo app does a great job recognising faces, bit still struggles with similar looking family members, I struggle to work out the best way to sort and categorise things, and I was at the events. I just can't see this working seamlessly enough to pay a subscription for (on top of internet, phone, netflix, vpn subs, PS+, cloud storage, the monthly bill is starting to get out of hand)

    Last edited 29/10/14 9:41 am

      White - the cult of Apple continues. The funny thing is the frame sticks out like a dog's proverbials in that image above (with all the wood surfaces).

    Really Kelsey? 25MB jpeg images in your article?

    But they "completely reinvented" the digital picture frame, by removing the "really cheap parts and materials" and charging more for them? I love the cleaver UX and phone integration but outlandish claims do nothing for the credibility of their product.

    I dunno. Displaying pictures doesn't seem like a huge problem to me. There are already a ton of options for displaying them around the house or on your phone or whatever. I think the ultimate flaw when it comes to photography is that we take pictures to show to people but being stuck sitting down and looking at someone else's photos is about the most boring thing you can do.
    As reluctant as I am to admit it has a use, Facebook/social media already solved that problem. It paired super bored people who know you with your photo collection. It's pressure free on the viewers side, there's no need to squeeze out a generic 'oh that's nice' comment on every single photo, and it's rewarding on the exhibitors side because they actually do net comments from people who were interested in their photos.

    "Think back to the last wedding you went to. Or the last birthday party. Even the last nice dinner. Odds are you took multiple photos, dozens even."

    Hmmmm... let's see. I went to my nephew's wedding last month, it was my birthday a couple of weeks ago and I've been out to dinner half-a-dozen times this month and taken precisely zero photos. Not everybody feels the need to chronicle every minor non-event that characterises their sad, little life in pictures. Some of us have worked out that if something is worth remembering, we'll remember it without having to do anything but enjoy the moment as it unfolds.

    What I want is a color e-paper display that uses power only when changing picture. They are slow, so no vid but the low power drain means you can then make it solar powered. Being reflective rather than emmittive it would look better too. Keep it simple...64Gb storage and WiFi network storage...have it downscale images when imported to the screen native resolution to maximise space. A pocket version would be good too.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now