A picture is worth a thousand words,

and a thousand words can often make

quite an interesting story!


About TakeStory - Summary:

TakeStory is an application for Android devices that allows you to create interesting stories by combining photos with sounds and narrations.

The idea started as just an app for annotating existing photos, but soon grew into something much more interesting. When explaining a photo, you often start remembering things that are not even pictured. You start to tell a story, and this story becomes more interesting than the photo itself. In other words, you are not annotating the picture, you are "picturing" the story! It felt like a completely new thing - we called it TakeStory.

We continued to play with this idea and soon came to a new exciting discovery. We started recording sound on the spot, right after taking the picture. We could now preserve the sound of the things we were photographing. It was like taking a snapshot of a sound!

TakeStory also solves a big problem of modern-day photography: people tend to take too many photos, and they soon become too numerous to even view. TakeStory helps organize them into stories, making them easier to view and more interesting to share.

The rest of the page is better explained in this "TakeStory about TakeStory", but if you'd rather read this info, carry on.

The evolution of the idea

Originally, we came up with the idea of annotating family pictures to avoid retelling the same stories over and over again. The first time you show your pictures to someone, your emotions are fresh, and you can remember stuff that is associated with the pictures. However, telling the same story again and again soon becomes wearing. So, the idea was to add voice to pictures, to explain what was going on and to share your experience, not just the pictures themselves.

My son was in 9th grade and had just finished his AP Computer Science class, where he learned to program in Java. We bought a Motorolla Xoom tablet running Android, and he started playing around with some sample code. Then, he decided that it would be neat to write a rough draft of the idea as a Father's Day present. Since then, TakeStory became our little "father and son" project.

However, once we started annotating our photos, we noticed an interesting side effect. When explaining a photo, you tend to recall things that are not pictured in there. These "off-screen" memories often make the story more interesting that the photograph itself! This made us realize, that sound is actually the key part of our idea.

But, our most important discovery came when we bought our first android smartphone and annotated a few pictures just after taking them. We discovered the magic of taking pictures and recording sounds at the same time, on the spot! Think about it: most pictures nowadays are taken with smartphones. With TakeStory, you can now actually preserve the sound of the things you are photographing.

 The next step was to move away from one-to-one picture-to-sound association and develop the ability to link multiple photos with audio at once. This was accomplished using XML, which allowed us to gain an extra degree of freedom and additional creativity.

To enhance TakeStory viewing and sharing, we've created a website that would allow us to store TakeStories online, view and edit them on a larger screen, and easily share them with friends and family.

Our goal was to make the TakeStory app a drop-in replacement for the smartphone camera app. By default, TakeStory opens into a camera, ready to take pictures right away, just like your regular camera. The big difference is that TakeStory adds the ability to make your photos more alive using surrounding sounds and annotations. 

Another plus of using TakeStory as a main camera app is that is solves a problem of digital photography. Today, returning from a week-long vacation, people bring back on average 200-500 photos, which are hard to even browse and impossible to share. TakeStory solves this problem by keeping photos and video manageable - organizing them into stories. This makes for a completely different experience, both in taking the pictures and sharing them. 

Photo vs Video

Of course, at first glance, the TakeStory idea sounds much like the "good old" video. So - Why bother creating a TakeStory, if you can just make a video? The answer is, that there's a place for both in the world. TakeStory sits somewhere in between the photograph and video. It's smaller in size, easier to share and easier to navigate than video. On top of that, TakeStory possesses an important quality that pictures have, and video is missing: the ability to carefully examine the view for as long as the viewer wants. When watching a video, you tend to pay attention only to moving objects, and you miss objects and details in the background. At the same time, video can be more expressive when it comes to action, so we added the ability to add video clips to TakeStories.

How it's done

Creating TakeStories:

The application allows you to create stories by:

We tried to make the user interface very intuitive, so it could be easily used by elderly and not very techy people. However, more complex features are available for advanced users throughout the app.

Sharing:

Once a story is created, you can upload it to your TakeStory.com account from within the app. Upon successful upload, the application returns a link to the story, which you can email to someone or post to a social network or blog. The link is specially designed to make it impossible to guess, so your TakeStories cannot be viewed by someone, unless they've been giving the link to view them. You can edit your stories online before sharing with your friends. You have full control over your own content, and can delete your online stories at any time.

We understand that some people will not want to share their stories using our website. At the moment, if you want to avoid this, you can share directly from one Android device to another, by sending a special archive file. However, to be able to play it, the other device should have the TakeStory app installed. In the future, we plan to develop additional ways to edit and share TakeStories without uploading them to the website.

Usefulness:

Here are some things that we've found TakeStory useful for:

We are sure that you guys will find many other things that TakeStory can be used for.