Google impressed a lot of people when it debuted its Grand Canyon Street View imagery in October. The Trekker backpack used to capture that imagery, which is essentially a backpack-mounted version of the same all-seeing eye that sits atop the Google Street View car.
The roughly 40-pound backpack is not all that uncomfortable to wear, I found out when I slipped the Trekker on. It’s a little top-heavy, and I’m not sure I’d want to risk running at a brisk clip if I was using one out in the wild, but it’s really no heavier than a standard backpacker’s kit for a few days’ journey.
Silverman explained how the Trekker works, including how its camera sensor head gathers images and how those are then stored on a hefty solid state hard drive built into the backpack, where they can later be transferred back to Google’s servers to get started with the process of recreating a hike.
I asked Silverman whether we might see the Trekker make its way to the backs of other beings beyond humans, and he said that they are indeed mulling the idea of strapping versions of it to beasts of burden to help them continue to map the world in images. There are also plans in the works to mount it to remotely operated robots and small vehicles to help get imagery that otherwise wouldn’t be easily reachable by a human Trekker.
He said to expect plenty more to come from the Trekker team in terms of Street View imagery of some of the world’s most interesting – and most remote – locales. Combined with Google’s new underwater street view project, that means everyone can probably get a lot more familiar with a lot more of the world in the near future.
Serial entrepreneur with too many ideas rattling around in your head? Then you’re going to like this one: a new mobile app called Elevatr will help you keep track of your inspirations, as well as develop a business model, in order to turn your passing thoughts into plans actually worth pursuing some day.
The beautifully designed app was dreamt up by New York-based David Spiro, a recent college of engineering and business school grad from the University of Michigan. He had spent time working with the standard tools for business model development, including the Business Model Canvas and Lean Canvas, while in school.
“It became very clear that entrepreneurship – and people inspired by the startup revolution – is more than those actually studying entrepreneurship,” Spiro explains. “I was really inspired to take those tools that I was taught to use, and create a mobile-first product that could apply to more than just those people who were in my classes,” he says.
Having shelved the startup idea he had been working on in college, Spiro finally decided to commit himself to the creation of Elevatr full-time, after first doing some consulting for a local angel following graduation in spring 2012. By the end of the year, he had an MVP ready to go after contracting with Fueled, a mobile app development agency in Soho that had previously built apps for JackThreads and Urban Daddy. Spiro now works out of Fueled’s offices, and has hired a small team (with help from AngelList), including CTO Rafael Amorim.
The product itself is simple. Elevatr is essentially a note-taking app that takes the structure of a traditional business plan and makes it more accessible to design and develop on the smaller screen of mobile devices. After tapping the button to add your idea, the app prompts you to describe the idea in 140 characters or fewer, just like Twitter.
That’s actually a challenge for some entrepreneurs, who can’t seem to condense their business’ idea to a single sentence, as we’ve discovered in the past, much less 140 characters. But Spiro thinks it’s a good first step, noting “if you can’t explain it in less than 140 characters, you probably don’t know what you’re doing.”
On the following screens, you’re walked through the other standard pieces to business-model creation, filling out details as to the target market, market size, competition, differentiation, features and uses, and so on. There’s also plenty of room for free-form note making in Elevatr, so you can really flesh out your ideas and plans.
At launch, the app is designed for personal use, but the team already has the intention to expand its capabilities in the near future. Next week, an option to export your ideas to a responsive website will be introduced, essentially turning your notes into a more fully developed online deck of sorts that you can share with others in order to get feedback. In addition, collaboration will be built into the app, which will allow you to invite others to view or comment on the content, given their permission levels.
Another idea for future expansion is to partner with other companies – agencies like Fueled, for example – giving them access to an administrative interface that would allow them to leverage the service to sort through a larger group of startup ideas, like those submitted as part of a contest, for instance.
That, and some other advanced features, may be paid options in the future, but currently the app itself is a free download here on iTunes.
Elevatr has a small amount of friends and family funding, but is now raising an angel round upwards of $500,000.
Read the original: Elevatr Is A Mobile-First Tool For Startup Business Plan Creation
EverSlide is a basic, but potentially very useful, hack built over the weekend at the TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2013 hackathon. As you might guess by the name, the service turns your Evernote notes into slideshow presentations. And it’s crazy simple to use, too. The first line of text in your Evernote note becomes the slide’s title, the second line becomes the slide’s content, and to create a second slide, you just insert a horizontal line from Evernote’s editing menu at the top. Then, boom, instant slideshow!
The hack was created by computer science student Michelle Fernandez and Andrew Leung, who’s currently in between work. The team met at the hackathon, and said they got the idea for the project by reading the Evernote forums where employees had posted ideas for hacks. (And word has it, the Evernote staff here, too, got pretty excited for this idea as well – they told EverSlide’s founders that they talked about the hack amongst themselves for some fifteen minutes after hearing about the team’s plans.)
The service is very minimal right now, given it was built over the weekend in between those midnight Nerf Gun wars and all, but the plan is to add more customization options in the future, including the ability to edit the fonts or colors of the text, perhaps, the ability to add photos, and more.
Read the original post: EverSlide Turns Evernote Notes Into Slideshows
The idea of a ‘mobile-first second-hand market’ isn’t exactly new. We’ve seen many companies try it before, from Yardsale to Stuffle but Osom is a new iPhone app launching today that buts a fresh twist on the idea. Imagine if every photo you saw shared on Instagram had a ‘buy’ button.
With gorgeous presentation and design that offers more than a subtle nod to Instagram, Osom is what its developers are calling “a mobile marketplace for beautiful things.” The app allows you to browse a global feed of items that users are selling, or narrow down to users that you’re following, or sellers from the same country as you. You can browse the most popular items overall via the ‘Most Osom’d’ tab.
What things count as ‘beautiful’? Browsing the items seeded onto the app at launch, vintage dresses, a mint condition manga book, a bright orange bicycle and a pair of designer ski goggles all make the grade. If you see anything you want to buy, you can tap the ‘Buy’ button and then make contact with the seller. There’s no direct payment within the app, making this more similar to Craigslist than eBay.
Selling an item yourself is simple enough. The app takes you through the familiar flow of taking a squared-off photo, choosing one of eight optional filters and adding a description. You can then input a price and decide if you want to share your ad on Facebook. There isn’t currently a way to edit the description after you’ve placed an ad, so if you decide you want to tweak your description, you’ll have to delete the ad and start again. Overall, Osom is a neat package although a few rough edges (such as a ‘follow’ button on your own profile, even if you can’t tap it, and a completely white screen if you happen to come across a blank feed, leaving you wondering if you’re missing something that hasn’t loaded) need straightening out.
Osom is a new Swedish startup founded by Anton Johansson (former CMO of Twingly), Marcus Svensson (also ex-Twingly) and Björn Fant (who most recently worked at Videoplaza).
Bonding over an interest in the social mobile scene, the three founders were drawn to the stickiness of Instagram. “We started to think about commerce ideas that could fit into an Instagram-like interface and suddenly it was pretty clear that it was the perfect interface for a marketplace with its close connection to the camera, the filters to make it more appealing, the following concept so you can see what your friends are selling not only random people and the discovery via feeds,” says Johansson.
Although the app is launching globally today, Osom is initially focusing on becoming the best and largest marketplace for “beautiful things” in UK, Germany and Sweden.
How, I wondered, will Osom ensure that everything posted really is beautiful? Johansson says that the team is seeding the feeds with the kinds of items it hopes that users will sell. “We aren’t removing stuff even if its ugly at this point, but we will remove ads that aren’t ads (for example a picture of a girl holding a beer). Later on, we will curate the content via ‘featured ads’, ‘most osom’d ads’ and ‘recommended ads’ (based on what you and your friends have “Osom’d”).”
Osom is self-funded at present, but Johansson says that the startup is currently in talks about raising an external round. Meanwhile, owners of non Apple mobile devices needn’t worry too much – Android and responsive Web versions are planned for the future.
Image credit: Medioimages / Photodisc / Thinkstock
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