Last week Looksery, a startup originated from Odessa, Ukraine, with offices in San Francisco, released its first mobile app, which has already gained popularity in Mexico, Ukraine, Greece, Russia, Brazil, Chile and some other countries. Designed for iOS devices, the application enables users to simulate their appearance for a photo or video chat in real-time.
You can make the face thinner, change the form of the skull, eye color, or skin color, apply one of the filters, or choose a 3D avatar (as in the screenshot below). The app also has a built-in messenger, which allows users to share their “doctored” images with friends. Additionally, users can share photos and videos through Facebook, Instagram, and Vine.
The startup intends to continue to develop the app and add new filters, as well as work with brands, offering them branded filters in the app (3D avatars and filters for changing appearance). Looksery also intends to unveil a version of the app for Android within the next few months, Ukrainian tech blog AIN.UA reported last week.
Oriented towards ordinary users, the app is mainly intended for entertainment and to demonstrate the capabilities of the technology, which the startup plans to license to corporate clients. For example, the service may be of use to call centers for video support and to improve appearances during video conferences. The use of 3D avatars in video support will reduce the volume of traffic by 98%, Looksery development director Yuliya Krasnienko told AIN.UA.
The startup’s technology may also be interesting to manufacturers of mobile devices, operators, cosmetic companies, brands, and movie studios.
This past summer, Looksery led a successful campaign on Kickstarter. Last month the startup took third place in the startup competition at IDCEE 2014 and then decided to use the cash prize of 5,000 euros to purchase necessities for orphans from the war-torn areas of Eastern Ukraine.
1. What kind of needs does Looksery address?
Looksery technology is the future of video communication and will have a strong impact on mobile carriers. People like video calls and video messages, but they don’t like the way they look on-screen. People usually look better in reality, but smartphone cameras distort facial features and make them appear fatter. Noses especially look large, because they are so close to the camera.
Initially, we wanted to fix this problem by tracking the face or nose to make them appear skinnier. But then we decided to let users themselves play with their own appearance. Users can remove blemishes, change their eye color, use 3D avatars and implement many other cool things. In other words, people will have control over their online appearance – and they may also be anonymous by using 3D avatars.
2. What about competition?
We’re the only company doing such video transformations – but of course there are plenty other messaging or video companies, like Glide, Tango and Snapchat, with which we will have to compete to catch end-user attention.
3. What are the next steps for Looksery?
We’ve just signed our first carrier company in Asia to start a pilot project using Looksery technology. The launch is due to take place by the Chinese New Year in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
There are many other companies with which we are closing licensing deals – starting from call centers and handset manufacturers to cosmetics companies, movie studios and various brands.
This is the way we work – hardcore bootstrapping and growing through our own revenues. Attracting venture money takes a great amount of time, which we’d rather spend on business development, with much higher revenues in prospect.
- Victor Shaburov previously created the company Handster in Odessa and subsequently sold it to Opera Software. Shaburov has worked as a vice president at Opera over the past two years, but left the company to join Looksery.