[Interview] How Storyo is Using AI to Create Instant Life Stories

03/18/2017 | By Hira Saeed

This post originally appeared on blog.up.co

All hail our obsession of smartphones and clicking pictures. We click pictures all the time, every time to upload them on Facebook, twitter and Instagram or may be they just stay idle in our camera rolls leaving so many memories behind.

A startup named as Storyo has a solution to this problem with an app that takes content sharing to a whole new level. Storyo selects the photos that best sum up the fun, and fleshes them out with time, places, pertinent posts, and friends’ photos of the same event.  After having a quick experience of how this app works, I’ve had a chance to interview Filipe Vasconcellos, CEO of Storyo to have a quick discussion about his app. Watch this space to know more about Storyo.

Hira: What is the idea behind Storyo app?

Filipe Vasconcellos: The belief that data play an important role in personal content creation and storytelling. We’re leading the way in data-driven storytelling with our mobile app, Storyo 2.0.

Hira: Is it somewhat a mix of Snapchat stories and Instagram’s collage?

Filipe Vasconcellos: While the output is a video story, it is nothing like Snapchat’s stories or Instagram collages. Our technology helps our users create personal and collaborative stories by simply selecting a timeframe of photos from their camera roll. Storyo then organizes photos in a visual narrative because it understands the story behind the selection of photos thanks to our proprietary technology and leveraging computer vision and machine learning selects the best photos, adds maps, social media trending posts, weather information, professional footage and creates a memorable piece of content that is ready to be shared.

Hira: What is the target market? Just millennials or everyone else out there?

Filipe Vasconcellos: It’s for all those who enjoy sharing their best times but don’t have the time or skills to create something they like so they need a tool that does it for them automatically, quickly and smartly.

Hira: How do you position Storyo as an app? What problem is it solving?

Filipe Vasconcellos: Storyo is like personal-storyteller-meets-production-crew. Great memories require real stories, that are unique, provide context and ultimately connect with people. These stories take time and effort. And no one was doing a good job at making stories for the user from start to finish at their request, much less enrich them with interesting context. So we went for it. We’re playing stories from data.

Hira: How big is your team? Are you attracting any fundings at this stage?

Filipe Vasconcellos: We are currently 10 in our office in Lisbon. We are preparing our next round of investment.

Hira: Every other app is jumping to add “stories” as a side feature on their app. First Instagram, then Whatsapp and Messenger too. How do you see it?

Filipe Vasconcellos: I believe that this is the evolution of social media and the announcement of a new era. We went from a “mass” social media (such as Facebook and Twitter) to smaller networks. Users are looking for more personal networks and that need was the impulse to the rise of Snapchat, Instagram, and Whatsapp, which of course are now huge. Stories are the natural next step. We are tired of feeds and algorithms that decide what we see and we would rather decide what we see on social media by checking in on the people that are meaningful to us. This way we are able to see what they have been up to instead of checking what everyone has been up too. But we’re continuing to see lots lots of one-to-few vs. one-to-many sharing of Storyos, and everywhere else, and that’s an interesting dynamic we’re looking to continue exploring.

Hira: What’s with these Shutterstock videos feature? This sounds very interesting!

Filipe Vasconcellos: Shutterstock is a strategic partnership for Storyo, offering our users a way to add a professional touch to their stories. Users can now access a gallery of +100,000 professional stock footage right from the app. A story of a romantic trip to Paris created with pictures from both of the partners on the adventure is always memorable. Now it can also include professional drone footage of the Eiffel Tower, for example.

Hira: I read in one of the press releases that Storyo uses artificial intelligence to weave stories. How does it work?

Filipe Vasconcellos: To create stories users select the first and the last photo of an event and press play; Storyo’s AI engine then takes care of the rest. Our proprietary patent-pending technology clusters photos in time and space, divides the story into chapters, within an alloted amount of representation time (15”, 30” or 60”) by understanding your photos metadata and the main highlights of that sequence of photos, and then our Computer Vision engine selects the best photos, deletes duplicates and ranks up or down photos with certain characteristics. We also suggest a theme and music and in seconds you have a video ready to share as is or to edit and make it even better.

Hira: How are you planning to add more AI based features in it? Any hints?

Filipe Vasconcellos: We will definitely be expanding our AI engine. We’re all about leveraging technology to create smarter and more relevant stories. But it’s too soon to talk about our roadmap as we’re focused on scaling 2.0.

Hira: How do we see Storyo in the years to come?

Filipe Vasconcellos: Stories are universal. Our digital footprint will expand and we will reflect even more what we do offline in our online lives. Storyo will be people’s ally to transform all the data they generate (which includes, amongst other things, photos) into meaningful, living memories to look back at and celebrate.

Hira: That is a bit off topic but I also need your views on Snap IPO that held a week back? Any comments?

Filipe Vasconcellos: I have a lot of admiration for Snapchat and what they’ve built. They introduced a terrific, game-changing product which helps connect millions of people and have an interesting vision of the future as a “camera company” (i.e. introduction of Spectacles and features that are increasingly relevant as it seeks to monetize). The IPO has raised some concerns from a valuation and company sustainability standpoint and there is a lot of skepticism around the company at this point but ultimately there is such a strong product-market fit that I’m looking forward to seeing the company continue to maintain its relevancy and grow.