Inspiration strikes in many places, and for computer programmer and Raleighite Scott Carr it was on an airplane. “It was dark and raining like crazy. The light from the wing was flashing and the rain through the window was illuminated during each flash,” he says. “It occurred to me that each flash was a unique image due to the random nature of rain.”
This seemingly insignificant observation led to an interesting idea, that the unique properties of photographs (subject, lighting, angles) could be used as a database key, essentially a way to sort and find information. Image matching software has been available for years; however, Carr didn’t want to search for photos; he wanted to assign actions to them or, more specifically, have the owners of the images load them with accessible content, similar to QR codes but without the unsightly black stamp.
“We believe that giving content creators the power to use their images as a method of communication, branding or commerce, no matter where they exist, is powerful,” he says.
Carr teamed up with local engineer and entrepreneur Mark Norton and investor William King to create scanCandy, a social media platform (released in February) that allows users to connect their images to content, videos, sound clips, slideshows—options are limited only by the imagination. The name hints to the surprise “candy” or treat hidden in each photo.
The success of Instagram, with more than 400 million worldwide users, is evidence that people love to share images through social media. However, scanCandy adds a whole new dimension to the process. Plus, a business-friendly platform offers ways for companies to capitalize on the technology. Photos can be scanned from the pages of a magazine (like ours), computer screens, billboards, posters, books, even artwork. In fact, the company has partnered with the Contemporary Art Museum (CAM Raleigh) to create an interactive experience for one of their upcoming exhibits.
“What excites me the most about our technology is delivering the means to democratize images wherever they reside, and where any picture can offer multiple layers of experience and, in theory, become a brand promotion or advertisement,” says Norton. “That’s powerful.”
The challenge, however, is engaging enough users to download the scanCandy app and use the technology in a saturated social media market. With users on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, to name only a few, the question remains: Are people wiling to share on yet another platform? The creators believe that the technology will prove worthwhile to the public in the long term once they discover how photographs can communicate more than just an image.