Chance is yours the phone’s camera roll is filled with tons of pictures. Most are intentional, some are created by the gentle movement of your fingers on the buttons of your phone. And if you really want to make TikTok videos, you’re probably more of an artist than most, showing every interesting corner of the internet in #greenscreen action.
The screen layout is ridiculous. I don’t mean dumbness as a concept; accomplishes the goal. They have relevant (if brief) requirements such as a photo of a cheap receipt. They are so important to have their album built into our phones. But they are static. They miss the motion of the video, the emotion of the image. You send your friend a picture of an address, and your friend still has to look up the address.
What if screenshots can be linked, or portals to a playlist, a photo gallery, a business page you want to share? This is exactly what Alex Mahedy has been trying to create over the past few years. The 21-year-old businessman in New York City has convinced other financial experts to support the idea. They just launched a new photo sharing app called Pager.
“As the internet has become more popular, the habit of taking and sharing photos has increased,” says Mahedy. The pandemic exacerbated that threat, as people turned to their photos for information and social interaction. According to Pager’s internal analysis of beta testers of the app, upload rates increased by 40 percent within a few weeks starting in early March 2020. These users now upload 5 photos per day.
“But at the same time, the image hasn’t really changed since the iPhone came out. It represents an impossible challenge to understand what’s in the image,” said Mahedy. “And now technology has evolved to the point where, in hardware and AI, this is not such a big problem.”
Here’s how Pager works, and this may be its biggest barrier to entry: It’s a separate phone app that’s currently available through TestFlight, Apple’s testing platform. This also means that it is available on iOS right now. The app first syncs the photos available in your camera roll. (It actually asks for access permission everything photos, a request that often makes privacy advocates cringe, but Pager says it only applies to your photos. And iOS now lets people choose which photos they want to share with other apps.)
Your Pager account looks like a page—hence the app’s name—for a selection of images that you choose to display in the corner of your Pager page: for example, pager.xyz/lauren. The images, whether it’s a pair of pants, a Google Maps address, an Instagram account, or a Taylor Swift song playing in your favorite music app, are linked.
At first glance, Pager’s website looks like a Pinterest website. The difference lies in the technology and, to some extent, how it will work in the future.
Duncan Buck, Pager’s chief technology officer in Berlin, says the company developed its own computer vision system to recognize what is being displayed and interpret user behavior. In a few seconds, the system analyzes the image you have uploaded, retrieves the saved content and creates links that will take users to the content of the image. Basically, it takes a dead image and turns it into something with a link, which your friends can click on. It’s not just OCR, says Buck, referring to the pattern recognition technology used in text analysis software; and a mixture of different computer vision techniques.