Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Koozoo Wants to Help Us “Big Brother” Ourselves and the World Around Us

You know and I know and whoever’s in the big master control room knows that we’re being watched and recorded in so many moments of our lives.

KoozooKoozoo is a startup that takes that a bit further — and puts it into our own hands. The San Francisco-based company wants people to contribute their own live video feeds from wherever they are, in order to knit together a network that shows what traffic patterns are like, if a parking spot is available on that block and whether that park is crowded today.

How will people share these video feeds? And why would they want to contribute to this random startup?

Let’s start with the how: Via smartphones. There will be two main options, said Koozoo CEO Drew Sechrist. The first is a fixed view: Take an old smartphone, connect it to Wi-Fi and point it out your window into a public space. Koozoo will send you a free window mount. There’s no audio recording, and the company won’t store everything you shoot, but its software will try to detect changes in the environment and save the most interesting snippets.

The second option is more of a ride-along view. Users can share their personal experience by recording public spaces as they use the Koozoo iPhone app (Android coming soon) on the go.

The harder question to answer is why people will do this. Sechrist thinks there’s pent-up demand to contribute to this kind of project, and thinks people will want to use Koozoo because they like the larger implications of making the living world searchable and accessible. Plus, there’s the voyeuristic community angle: In order to see everyone else’s feeds, you have to share your own.

“In a dense network of cameras, each of these views becomes incredibly valuable,” he said. To that end, Koozoo is only launching in San Francisco and Austin this week.

There’s actually already a pretty great recent example of this kind of system working. Earlier this month when a meteor streaked across the Russian sky, it was captured from many angles by drivers who had dashboard cameras installed in their cars in order to capture an unbiased view of accidents and encounters with highway patrol cops. Those videos were almost immediately posted online, and the rest of the world could viscerally experience and replay this crazy event that had just happened in Russia.

So, for now, Koozoo is just starting — but maybe sometime in the future it will have its dashcam meteor moment.

Koozoo has raised $2.5 million from investors including New Enterprise Associates and Tugboat Ventures.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald