Category : From the lab

Building the future of entertainment at Hollywood Hack Day

Over the weekend of November 5 and 6, nearly 70 hackers crowded into the Katalyst offices in LA to build the future of the entertainment industry. Along the way, they were visited by Robert Scoble, Ashton Kutcher, Patrick Vlaskovits, D.A. Wallach from Chester French, and many others. ThingLink was happy to sponsor this event, as well as using it to debut our brand new image application development environment.

 

ThingLink inspired a number of hacks that weekend, including rich media tags for Rdio and Polldaddy (see below).

Another developer, who wound up taking the prize for the best use of ThingLink, created a tag where you can record a video. He also created a tag through which you can call to a cell phone (see below).

The ThingLink team also chatted with guys from Spotify, Topspin, RootMusic, SoundCloud and other cool startups like Mashery, Rdio, Rovi, MOG and Tracks.by, getting some new ideas and sharing feedback.

As always, the hack day had plenty of coffee, Red Bull, programming, and even a little controversy (was the Adobe team really presenting a hack or a corporate reel? The world may never know). We’re definitely looking forward to our next hack day and continuing to build great things.

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ThingLink Launches Image Application Development Environment

We are today announcing the launch of our latest innovation, the Image Application Development Environment.  Announced on the eve of Hollywood Hack Day, this initiative will allow users to build branded applications and rich media tags that take advantage of ThingLink’s signature image embedding technology and Image Network.

Until now, users and image owners were required to approach ThingLink for a customized app solution to service their needs. By launching the app development environment, ThingLink is inviting developers to create fun and interesting applications that make interactive images more engaging and relevant.

Here are some of our existing Rich Media Tags and you can now make your own.

“We’re looking to empower developers with tools that engage audiences around images,” commented ThingLink CMO Neil Vineberg. “We also invite corporations and small businesses to build a presence on the ThingLink Image Network by creating branded applications and promotional content for their services.”

Prospective developers should visit www.thinglink.com/developer, where after a simple sign-in and approval process, ThingLink will provide instructions and access to sample code from a custom built app, including performance suggestions and compatibility and design tips.

First announced in June this year, ThingLink has brought a new dimension to images on the web via Rich Media Tags, transforming static images into navigational platforms. From hand-drawn artwork to professional photography, Rich Media Tags can be applied to any image, enabling the embedding of links from some of the world’s leading social content platforms such as YouTube, Spotify, Wikipedia, Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and many more.

For more information on creating Rich Media Tags or to learn more about opportunities to integrate with ThingLink, visit: www.thinglink.com.

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Album Covers Go Interactive With ThingLink

by Cortney Harding

Twenty years ago, I went to a record store in a mall in Clackamas, Oregon and bought a copy of Nirvana’s “Nevermind.” I tore the cellophane off the cassette and eagerly pulled out the packaging, looking at the photos of the three strange looking men with odd-colored hair and clothes fresh from the Goodwill. I wanted to know everything about them — based on that one image, I took trips to the library to read Rolling Stone, watched for their videos on MTV, and listened to that cassette until it wore out.

I wrote that extremely dated paragraph to prove a point — fans want to interact with artists based on images. And those most iconic artist images, their album covers, are key points of entry for many listeners. Luckily iTunes and Spotify haven’t destroyed album cover art — they simply made it another image to be shared and utilized.

ThingLink makes it easy for artists to transform an album image into a shareable container for music, videos and social connection. Now I don’t have to go to the library and page through back issues for more information on an artist. Inside an album image I can click on a link and read a blog post in a nanosecond. Ditto for waiting for a video to show up on the TV — just hit the YouTube link. And while listening to a new track once required waiting for radio to spin it, now it’s a matter of hitting a Soundcloud music player. And…well, you get the picture.

People, especially kids, still get excited about album releases. And what better way to connect news about the album with an interactive cover that contains music, video and more. In a way, it’s almost like going back to days of unfolding vinyl albums or CD booklets — people want to interact with the album art, but now they have an even deeper way to do it.

Take the cover of the recently announced Bruno Mars single, “It Will Rain,” which is also the lead track from the forthcoming Twilight soundtrack. The album cover shows Mars slouched beneath an umbrella and featured links to the Twilight trailer as well as his social media properties. It created the right mix of branding (rain, the umbrella) with an air of mystery — there was really no way to tell what the song was about, merely a call to keep following and figuring it out.

And what Mars’s team did is just the beginning. As I talked about in my previous post, a label could make a game out of spreading pieces of the cover and clips of a track around the web and asking fans to help put it together. Album announcements could feature a recorded clip from an artist with a special message that is changed daily, or pulled after 100 listens. Different pieces of the album art could feature different song clips.

 

The days of buying cassettes at the mall are long over (and thankfully, the associated hairstyles are lost to the ages, too) but the desire to interact with album artwork is as alive as ever.

Cortney Harding is a music evangelist for start-ups, including ThingLink and official.fm. She was previously the music editor and indies correspondent at Billboard magazine, and knows way too much about the music industry for any sane person. Follow her on Twitter or on Tumblr.

 

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ThingLink Launches e-Commerce Tags For iTunes And Topspin, Offers New Options For SoundCloud Users

ThingLink, the provider of in-image interaction tools and Rich Media Tags, today announced the creation of exclusive e-commerce tags for Apple Inc’s online retail platform, iTunes and independent artist promotional platform, Topspin. Artists hosting their music through wider audio creators platform SoundCloud can now also import third party ‘buy’ links to their profiles via ThingLink’s Rich Media Tag system.

From today, music artists and their promoters can embed ‘buy now’ links to iTunes or to a Topspin custom store in the images they use throughout the web. Any hosted image – from artist pictures, album cover art or event photography – can now be converted into an ad hoc music store, providing an innovative and engaging new method of getting new music into the hands of those who want it most.

“By providing an embeddable, direct route to purchase, ThingLink’s e-commerce tags remove another barrier between artists and fans looking to buy their music,” commented Neil Vineberg, ThingLink CMO. “As a team we’re keen to progress the conversation on how music retail is evolving, and teaming up with platforms of the calibre of iTunes, Topspin and SoundCloud can only help us to achieve that aim.”

First announced in June this year, ThingLink has brought a new dimension to images on the web via Rich Media Tags, transforming static images into navigational platforms. From hand-drawn artwork to professional photography, Rich Media Tags can be applied to any image and already allow the in-image embedding of links from some of the world’s leading social content platforms such as YouTube, Spotify, Wikipedia, Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and many more.

“We at Topspin are fans of any method of distributing artist offers, especially when the method is as simple and powerful as adding ‘buy now’ links to artist images,” says Ian Rogers, Topspin CEO. “Photos are a big source of traffic for artists, so it makes sense to attach links to artist offers and let those images travel the web.”

For more information on creating Rich Media Tags, visit ThingLink or check out out most awesome Music Guide instructing you how to make the most out of the service.

 

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ThingLink and Eventbrite Launch Ticket Purchases From Images

ThingLink, the leading provider of in-image interaction tools, and online events platform Eventbrite have today announced an integration partnership to allow direct ticket purchases from images. Eventbrite users will now be able to boost attendance wherever they use web-based images to promote their events, via the incorporation of ThingLink’s unique Rich Media Tags to the ticket-selling platform. Event flyers, promotional images and other listings can now be transformed into direct selling platforms, linking users and potential customers directly to an Eventbrite listing.

ThingLink allows our users a greater level of flexibility and customer interaction when promoting their events,” commented Mitch Colleran, Eventbrite Partner Manager. “As well as providing a direct selling platform, ThingLink will allow our users to bring their promotional images to life with video, audio and whatever social features they desire.

Our aim with Rich Media Tagging is to empower online images with all of the functionality of the modern web and through this latest collaboration with Eventbrite we have brought on board a true market leader,” added ThingLink Chief Marketing Officer Neil Vineberg. “In-image purchases remove a barrier between ticket holders and event goers, as well as open up a new realm of creativity for those building flyers and promotional imagery for their events.


This is how you set it up

By now you probably want to try it out and promote your own event. Here is an easy 8-step tutorial on how to sign up for ThingLink and Eventbrite in order to start creating and using your own ThingLink/Eventbrite Tag.

1. Sign up for ThingLink. We’ll come back to this.

2. Sign in to or sign up for Eventbrite

3. At Eventbrite, search for an event that you want to feature in your image or create a new event.

4. Fill out the event registration and Save and publish the event.

5. Copy the event’s URL link. It should look something like this: http://sfmts9.eventbrite.com

6. Single tag an image or ThingLink-enable all your images on the site where you want to show the images. Paste the event’s URL in the link field of the tag editor. The editor will state that this will become an Eventbrite tag. You don’t need to enter a description.

7. Voila!

8. Watch the ticket sales roll in. Remember that ThingLink also offers many more Rich Media Tags such as YouTube, Flickr, Soundcloud and Wikipedia.

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Our summer surprise: TED Talks video tags

The summer sun has given our developers an extra boost and we have a sunny surprise for our users and the organizers of the TED conferences. You can now create TED Rich Media Tags with Thinglink!

Just insert TED talk URLs straight into a tag’s link field and it will turn it into a video tag much in the same way as our previous YouTube and Vimeo video tags. We love the innovation and inspiration TED brings to the world and we want to make it easy for everyone to embed and share TED videos on their images.

Follow the following steps to create your own TED image tags and help spread the videos around the world:

1. Take any TED talk URL such as this one: http://www.ted.com/talks/rebecca_mackinnon_let_s_take_back_the_internet.html

2. Insert it into the tag’s link field:

3. Here is the result:

Remember that the TED tag is only one of many ThingLink Rich Media Tags and all of them are as easy to set up. Visit ThingLink now to set up your own account.

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Track how your your tagged images spread

We have a nice little update for you that many have been asking for. One of ThingLink’s core features is the possibility to embed tagged images anywhere on the web. Embeddable features have always been a useful addition to other services such as YouTube, Flickr and Soundcloud, enabling the dynamic spread of great content across blogs or other websites. ThingLink now enables you to track all of the places where your images have been embedded, allowing you to see who is using your images and where.

The feature is located on ThingLink’s dashboard above each of your images, but naturally if the image hasn’t been embedded elsewhere there is only one location (in the example below you would only see the URL http://lovegolf.tumblr.com). We believe that the updated embed feature opens up new perspectives for ThingLink’s users that want to either launch campaigns and track them in real time or just see how their images are spreading around the world.

Now if you haven’t tried the embed feature yourself, you can try it out by hovering the top left corner and selecting embed image. This gives you a snippet of code which anyone can embed on any site to make your tagged image appear. The best thing is that if you have links or tagged media in your image, the links and media still point to the place you specified regardless of where the image is embedded.

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Today’s release: ThingLink Twitter tags!

Now you can really make your images work for you – and for your friends! The new ThingLink Twitter tag lets you tag people in images with their Twitter account. What a neat way to know more about the person in the photo and get social!

Think about all the portrait/promotional/conference/seminar/party/any other photos that people like to browse after an event. You can remember faces, yeah, that was an interesting person but what was her name? With our new Twitter tag, you can enable Twitter-follow right from your images.

How does it work?
1) Make sure you have signed up and added the ThingLink tagging tool on your site,

2) Copy-paste a Twitter profile url into the ThingLink tag editor, and you’re done! The person’s name, profile image, and a follow option appears on your image.

The feature is automatically activated for all users and you’ll see the result immediately. Naturally ThingLink also makes all existing Twitter tags interactive, so there is no need to update them.

Here we are:

Image credit: Kai Widell

What we think is cool is that you can also leave your images open for people to tag themselves. This is handy if you you don’t know who the people in the images are or if you for example want to identify people in historic photographs (we were surprised to notice that several historical persons are still tweeting). Anyhow, here is an other example: organizers (not all of them) of the recent Summit at Sea conference.

Image credit: Elliot Bisnow

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Collaborative editing for user-generated images: 7DayPic enables ThingLink image tagging

This week’s feature release enables collaborative editing of tagged images for entire websites. The idea for this feature came from Julio Castillo who runs an image sharing website 7DayPic. As the name indicates, the service lets you host and share images for 7 days. One day Julio emailed us and asked: “I have an image-hosting service, and would like to try enabling ThingLink tagging for my users. Is that possible?”

We thought this was a great idea, and a first step towards enabling image tagging for community sites. In this release the feature appears in its simplest form: upload an image, tag it with ThingLink’s in-image tags and share it with the world.

Examples of use cases:

1) party/event images
Share photos of your party and invite your friends to tag them. Who is in the picture? What is happening? Who is wearing what? Don’t worry, these image will not be around forever!

2) short-term campaigns
Creating a 7-day campaign site has never been this easy! Just upload your image to 7DayPic, tag it and share it. This can be used for a conference, product launch or a music event.

3) education
A biology home assignment for 5th grade students: identify plants using digital image archives.

Try it out for yourself by using one of the many apps that 7DayPic features. Be creative, crazy and wild. Remember that the images only last seven days.

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An image is worth a thousand customers – ThingLink and Savalanche join forces to introduce a new image-based social shopping model

ThingLink, the Finnish-American innovator of image interaction tools, and Savalanche, a Finnish pioneer of social shopping, have joined forces to launch a new image-based social shopping model. The partnership enables anyone to easily set up a web store and become a retailer for their favorite things, and make their shop appear on images. The service is free for both publishers and sellers alike.

“Images have become a platform for many kinds of social activities, one of them being shopping”, says Ulla Engeström, founder and CEO of ThingLink. She continues: ” Collaboration with Savalanche serves our publishers, because it makes social media exposure convert into sales. ”

In the background of the cooperation between ThingLink and Savalanche lies a new emerging demand: consumers looking for inspiration and recommendations online want to immediately locate where the product can be bought while also being served with its price and other information. Speed is of the essence – the less clicks there are between for example an interior design product display and the product’s buy button, the bigger the chance that there will be a sale.

“Our cooperation brings the buy button straight into images – no links or searches are needed”, says Pasi Vuorio, founder of Savalanche. “Savalanche lowers the threshold of founding a web shop. Anyone can set up their own web shop supported by social media in order to for example sell design products through a lifestyle blog. It is a risk-free new distribution model for retailers”, Vuorio continues.

 

(ThingLink offers interactive illustration for your story. Try embedding the image by hovering the top left corner, selecting embed, copying the code and pasting it in your own html code. Voila!)

The revenue model of the service is attractive to both the brand and the web shop owner. A design blog such as Sisutusblogi.fi may become a retailer and start earning sales commission from all sales via their shop. While the consumer might be buying products from different brands on a blog store there is only one payment and one order, even though the merchandise is delivered from many different companies.

Examples of pioneering retailers include Finnish Design Shop,  Valleys and Tiia Arkko.

Teemu Kiiski, the CEO of Finnish Design Shop, welcomes the new service: “Inspiring images are key in selling design. A web store should exist where consumers actually talk about the products, that is on blogs, web publications, and within social media in general.” Teemu continues: “With the help of ThingLink’s tools and Savalanche’s social shopping, Finnish Design Shop will radically expand its distribution channels and reach new customers.”

“Interactive images create new kinds of long-awaited revenue model for web publishers”, says Harri Kangas, founder of sisustusblogi.fi, and continues; “ThingLink’s tools are easy to use, the image tags fit even the most elegant of images and it enables easy image sharing worldwide. ”

“ThingLink currently serves thirty million image views monthly. Our users mainly consist of music and lifestyle publishers ” Ulla Engeström says. “This cooperation adds value to private blogs, long tail producers, and online stores, and we expect new users from these fields”, she continues.

 

(ThingLink offers interactive illustration for your story. Try embedding the image by hovering the top left corner, selecting embed, copying the code and pasting it in your own html code. Voila!)



ThingLink develops image interaction tools that allow content sharing via online images. ThingLink technology changes the way people interact with photos by transforming them into a surface for navigation, commerce, and social connection. Brands, publishers and bloggers utilize ThingLink in their images to share links, drive traffic, and set up image-based advertising campaigns.

Savalanche is a new webstore solution that combines online commerce, social media and affiliate marketing in an effective way. With Savalanche, anyone can set up a webstore – even without any products of their own. Savalanche users can sell their favorite products imported and produced by external product suppliers. For importers, manufacturers and marketers, Savalanche offers a new kind of channel with the ability to reach a wide, targeted consumer base through the different social networks operating on the Internet. Savalanche is owned by Vuole Oy.

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