Hands-on with Seene: App puts 3D photos in the palm of your hand
When iOS 7 was launched, a number of people found the home screen parallax nauseating. If you are one of those people, then Seene is absolutely not the app for you. But if you love 3D imaging and interactive images (like me), then Seene is worth a look.
Seene is a free app for iOS that lets you capture and share photos. But instead of the boring 2D platform of social network powerhouses Instagram and Vine, Seene's images are interactive and three dimensional. (Check out an example at the top of the page.) On mobile, Seene's images move as you adjust your device, revealing a 3D effect. On web browsers that support WebGL — like Chrome, Firefox, and Safari — the same effect can be seen when you move your cursor over the image.
I wanted to see how easy it is to record a Seene. When you download the app, a demo walks you through the capture process. In the viewfinder screen, Seene finds areas of contrast in the center of the screen and marks them with dots. The more dots, Seene shows you, the better.
After you have picked out your subject, hit the record button. A quartered, pie-shaped icon appears. Instead of panning your phone like you would when shooting a panorama, you want to move it around your subject, taking it in from all angles.
As you move your device, Seene reads the data from your phone's accelerometer and combines it with the recorded video to build a three-dimensional representation of your surroundings. It is important that your subject stays very still, and that the area is well lit, so I had mine lie down on a sunny afternoon.
The whole capture process takes less than five seconds and the compression is almost instant. When you are ready to share your 3D image, you are greeted with a familiar caption and social media screen. And, yes, you can use hashtags.
My first Seene was easy to take. Sure, it's not as simple as a still photograph or traditional video, but the result certainly offers a cool factor. There are definitely a few kinks to work out. Even with a careful capture, my Seene image had some distortion and the app developers have admitted to a few bugs with the iPhone 5S.
Even with its flaws, Seene is the best effort in popularizing 3D smartphone photography that I've seen so far. The HTC Evo 3D tried to introduce 3D imaging to smartphone users with its camera hardware in 2011, and Seene's technology has been used in other apps. What makes Seene stand out is that its offering an easy capture and viewing platform, wrapped up in a familiar social media skin.
Mouse-over below to view my attempt at smartphone 3D image capture with Seene.
Seene has a great concept and excellent execution, but does it have the guts to hit it big? While parts of it remind me of Vine's early days, it might be too niche to gain serious traction. (Remember FocusTwist?)
Let's hear from you: Is Seene going to take 3D photography to the people, or is it just another fad?