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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.

Seene, like other 3D imaging software, picks out lock points. The more complex the subject, the better.
When you are recording your Seene, you must fill every part of the quartered pie.

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.

Just like other photo sharing social media apps, you can caption your photos and share to social networks.
While Seene doesn't have a comment function, users can "like" each other's images.

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?


Total comments: 5

I've tried it and it's interesting, but then when you try to share your photo on Facebook, it wants permission "to post things to your friends on your behalf". Um - NO THANKS. Throwing my friends under the bus to get ads from these people just to share a photo isn't what I call friendly.

FYI - if anyone uses Internet Explorer the 3D effect won't work, either. They have to view it in Firefox or Chrome.

Edited 36 seconds after posting

I'm using IE11 and the 3D effect works fine on my machine.


I have to admit, I am really impressed with Seene. It's not always perfect but the effect is pretty good even when it is not.

Hard to say if it will be only a fad or not, but anything that has a proprietary format usually is... on the website for people that can't see the 3D effect they should convert it into a looping movie that tilts up and down and right and left.

Edited 1 minute after posting

A great app. Only I have a problem with how images get distributed. Your picture is uploaded to Seene's cloud and you are given a URL to send to your friends. Does Seene now own the image like Facebook and other cloud media? Also, how are they ever going to prevent people doing nude selfies in 3D?
I will not sleep tonight worrying...


Another fad? Perhaps one with a bit of "depth" to it.

Thanks for the info.

Total comments: 5
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