Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Storyful: The World's First Social Newsroom

Headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, Storyful is the world's first social news agency, helping journalists and newsrooms sift through social media to discover breaking news and valuable content. Storyful was founded by Mark Little, a former foreign correspondent and news anchor who realized that social media could make him a better journalist. While watching the Arab Spring unfold on YouTube, Little saw an authenticity rarely shown on TV news, as well as the potential to get closer to the story faster. He believes that social media hasn't killed journalism, but rather given it a new lease of life.

Little founded Storyful, the first truly social newsroom, in 2010 to better equip newsrooms for the social media age. The company has perfected its tools, techniques, and services since then, and aims to help every news organization build their own social newsroom. Storyful has already partnered with some of the world's biggest news brands, including Reuters, ABC News, the New York Times, BBC, France 24, and ITN.

Storyful's newswire dashboard enables media organizations to monitor breaking alerts, trending content, and video from around the world 24/7. Each update is verified by the Storyful team and includes detailed context on the background, location, uploader, and story's provenance. The dashboard also features a searchable archive of 70,000 stories and a daily curated list of trending stories. Meanwhile, Storyful's contacts database provides journalists with phone numbers, addresses, and social media details so they can contact on-the-ground sources for further information.

Led by Little, who serves as chief executive officer, Storyful comprises a team of technologists and journalists scattered across Asia, Europe, and the United States. Members include writers, broadcasters, producers, reporters, designers, and coders, some of whom are veterans of CNN, BBC, Reuters, and the International Herald Tribune, among others. Storyful is committed to helping news professionals everywhere separate the truth from the noise on the social web.

Save Your Children's Artwork With Keepy

Keepy is an interactive keepsake box that lets you preserve your kids' artwork forever and share them with loved ones. Founded by Offir Gutelzon and Yaniv Solnik, the Android and iOS compatible app allows you to keep offline creations such as drawings, sculptures, beaded jewelry, birthday cards, and letters online. Simply snap a photo of your child's artwork, and crop and enhance the image using Keepy's easy-to-use tools. Add the child's name, location, and date, and the app will organize your “keepies” for you. You can also include a voice recording to describe the photo.

To share keepies with grandparents, friends, and other loved ones, invite them to be your kid's fans. Fans can leave video comments on keepies, which will be preserved alongside each photo. Individual keepies may also be shared via email, Facebook, and Twitter.

Keepy is free for 31 keepies each month. If you upload more than that, subscription plans start at $1.99 per month.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Metail Is the Future of Online Clothes Shopping

Called a “fashion revolution” by Look magazine, Metail is a UK startup that takes the guesswork out of online shopping. As convenient as it is to shop for clothes from the comfort of your own home, it can also be an off-putting and frustrating process. Since you can't touch the garments and try them on, it's easy to end up buying the wrong size or receiving something that looks different in real life. Metail is an online fitting room that enables anyone to shop with confidence – it lets you create a virtual model of yourself, so you can see how clothes look on your body even if you don't physically try them on first.

To get started on Metail, simply upload a couple of photos of yourself and input some of your measurements. Using actual 3D body scans from its database, the service will build an accurate representation of your body. With your virtual model or MeModel, you can discover how clothes fit, right down to the way the fabric drapes on your body shape. Moreover, Metail's size advice algorithm will recommend a size for each garment, helping you pick clothes that will fit well and look great on you. What's even more fun is that you can also use Metail to put outfits together and experiment with new styles.

Metail is the brainchild of CEO Tom Adeyoola, who wanted to help his girlfriend (now wife) find clothes that would fit her shape. He had an idea to find a way to obtain body measurements digitally quickly and easily and provide consumers with a personalized shopping experience. In 2008, breakthroughs in computer vision technology at Cambridge encouraged Adeyoola to create a solution with co-founder Dr. Duncan Robertson. After three years in stealth, Metail launched with its first commercial partner, Tesco, in early 2012. The startup has been featured in TechCrunch, Entrepreneur, and Mail Online.

It's On Me: App Lets You Send Drinks Across Cities

Did your best friend, who lives in another city, just land a new job? Is your favorite aunt, who resides halfway across the country, about to have her birthday? With It's On Me, you can still send drinks to congratulate them even if you're not physically there. Previously known as Drinkboard, It's On Me is an iPhone and Android app that lets you gift a drink or a bite anytime, anywhere. The app is more than just a high-tech, long-distance way to celebrate special occasions, though. It's On Me's mission is to support local businesses by allowing people to discover and purchase from a curated group of merchants. But ultimately, everybody wins – users get an easy way to thank or congratulate someone, recipients get a cool gift, and local establishments get new business.

Headquartered in Las Vegas with satellite offices in San Francisco and New York City, It's On Me comprises a diverse group of entrepreneurs with a passion for food, cocktails, events, and travel.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Catchbox Is a Mic You Can Throw to Audience Members

The Q&A portion of lectures and conferences is often awkward – sometimes, audience members are hesitant to ask questions; other times, there's a long, uncomfortable silence as the mic is passed around, especially if the person who raised their hand is sitting in the back of the room. Timo Kauppila, Pyry Taanila, and Mikelis Studers have seen their share of such situations. So about a year ago, the former Aalto University students set out to make events more fun and engaging. Their solution? Catchbox, the world's first throwable microphone.

Catchbox is a professional wireless microphone in the form of a soft, padded cube. Unlike traditional mics that need to be handled carefully, Catchbox is designed to be thrown around. And don't worry about any ugly sounds it might make if it is accidentally dropped – the device has internal electronics that automatically turn off the audio when it is in motion.

Within each Catchbox is a foam capsule that houses the transmitter and other electronic components. It is in this enclosure that one can turn Catchbox on and off, change the batteries, and pair the capsule to the receiver. The capsule is secured by a magnet and can be taken out of the cover easily. The third part of Catchbox is the receiver which receives the audio signal and connects it to a sound system. It has a 6.3mm audio jack that is compatible with the mic and line inputs of computers, stereos, and sound mixers.

The Catchbox team sees many uses for the throwable mic, including lectures, meetings, workshops, and even Skype calls. Currently available for pre-order, Catchbox underwent numerous iterations and early prototypes were tested at more than 100 events before the design was finalized. A Catchbox will set you back $549 and can be customized with your company name, website, or other custom text.

Discover Designers and Explore Trends With Purely Fashion

Purely Fashion is an iPhone app that lets fashionistas get the latest from their favorite designers. Users can browse current fashion collections, preview upcoming ones, and discover emerging designers. They can also buy looks from participating designers straight from the app.

Purely is more than just a fashion discovery platform, though. For designers and retailers, it is a tool that lets them know their customers better. Through users' likes and lookbooks, Purely is able to identify trends in real time. As a result, retailers do not need to guess which looks will sell and which ones will not. In addition, Purely is committed to paying designers who sell on the platform promptly, as opposed to the industry norm which takes months.

The Purely Fashion team is currently developing a notification feature that will alert users when something in their lookbook goes on sale. The company is also hosting a five-week fashion event in Chicago called Purely PopUp.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Mallzee Is a Pocket-Sized Personal Shopper

Here to help consumers “discover personal and blissfully effortless online shopping” is Mallzee, an app that acts as your very own personal shopper. One that you can carry around in your pocket, at that. Headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland, Mallzee aims to make clothes shopping simple and fun. Use the app to browse over 200 brands, including Asos, Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, Miss Selfridge, 18 and East, Betsey Johnson, and French Connection. Choose the category of clothing you want to look at, then specify the color, price range, store, and other details. Swipe right to save the item if you like what you see, and swipe left to discard something that's not your style. Mallzee gets smarter the more you use it, filtering through more than half a million products to recommend those that you are most likely to love.

Mallzee also has a unique feature that puts the social into online shopping with a twist. If you need a second opinion, you can share your find with your friends. However, if they don't like it, the buy button will be disabled and you'll actually be prevented from making a purchase. You can try to convince your friends to change their vote, though, and a draw will be enough to lift the ban.

According to Mallzee founder and CEO Cally Russell, social isn't about following strangers or broadcasting your life to the world. “To us social is about enabling people to have meaningful conversations with the people that matter. That's why our users can share clothes only with friends using the app and have conversations with people they know,” he says.

Available for free on the App Store, Mallzee is initially targeting the UK and Ireland. The startup earns affiliate revenue every time a user makes a purchase through the app.

ZowPow Makes Plush Toys That Control Games

Before there were smartphones and tablets, kids played with physical toys and games. ZowPow, a new startup based in San Francisco, is looking to combine the good old days with modern times by creating plush toys that can control gameplay. The two-person company currently has two offerings – Tiny Plane, a controller for Chillingo's mobile game of the same name, and Redford, for Get Set Games' Mega Jump and Mega Run.

ZowPow's controllers contain built-in sensors and accelerometers. When a child moves the toy up and down or side to side, the character on screen does the same thing. ZowPow's plush toy game controllers provide a fun new way to play mobile games – kids will no longer be glued to a smartphone or tablet, but can get out of their seat and move around. The plush toys connect to iOS devices wirelessly and automatically and can also connect to TVs if an HDMI adapter or AirPlay is used.