Heightened privacy measures have taken some of the exploratory excitement out of social networking, rendering feeds overly-curated in terms of exposure to new people, places, or products. Google+, in fact, was developed largely around the opportunity for micro-management, while conversely, the complexity of Facebook privacy customization has been the source of considerable disdain. Selective connection, it seems, is the focus, and rightfully so - but a bit of open publicity would be an interesting change of pace.
Teleportd, launched in Paris this week by Gabriel Hubert and Stanislas Polu, is that change of pace. In real time, the app aggregates photographs from other services, then presents content to users based on location - not social networks. This, Hubert said, is one of the goals - delivering “an experience of a place or event through the eyes of the people who are there, as soon as they are willing to share that information and make it public, regardless of whether you know them or not.” The focus, in short, is the place, not the people - though the story is told through their eyes.
Launch the app and the process begins immediately. The upper half of the screen contains continual photo aggregation, while the lower half displays Google Maps. Dividing the two is the navigation bar: direct the map to your location, zoom out, search, photograph, or view your profile. To date, Teleportd aggregates Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, and PicPlz, with more sources planned, but the content for heavily populated areas is already dense. “We already have a list over over 30 mobile apps to integrate and we're working hard to get that done very soon,” Hubert said, noting that planned expansion is multi-faceted and includes refined search, a web version, and an iPad app.
Monetization is forthcoming and has a number of focal points. Some, like promoted search, are nearly commonplace, but Hubert and Polu are looking to step, in a number of ways, outside the box. “We're developing proprietary technology to group photos by event and detect new events based on spikes in the photos taken at a given place, and we can act as infrastructure partners to travel, event booking, and news partners,” he explained. Teleportd, he added, could also “act as a real-time marketplace between lucky photographers originating great quality content because they were at the right place at the right time (Hudson River plane landing, anybody?) and organizations interested in purchasing the rights to that content.” There are hints there of a sort of universal opportunity, opening financial doors for both the Teleportd team and its users; the success of this approach to monetization would create a lasting function for Teleportd and further its longevity.
All of that being said, considerable amount of press surrounding the release has centered around the viewing possibilities for those catastrophic events despairingly common as of late, but Teleportd has a probing - almost sociological - element of equal intrigue. One does not need to know the names of cities or even countries to cue them up on the app; instead, he or she can just spin the globe about as if it’s floating just within reach. The photos are gathered in sets by way of metadata - tags, comments, captions - becoming more or less time sensitive as users zoom out or in, respectively. “A user doesn't need to proactively add his photos to Teleportd: if they come from an stream that we already aggregate,” Hubert said, “then they will appear on Teleportd and show up for up to 30 days.” Taking a look at Wall Street may unravel a stream of protesters spread throughout Zuccotti Park, but the locals’ vision of, say, rural Russia has a timeless quality of its own - and timelessness, in an app directed toward real-time updates, is one of Teleportd’s most promising feats.