Dan Garraway is a technologist, creative, and the co-founder of (IMO) one of the most interesting pieces of digital video technology out there: WireWax. I first met Dan and his co-founder a couple of years ago when, as a young startup, they got in touch to show me their technology that enables you to add motion tracking clickable hotspots to video content. I was kind of blown away by it. The idea of direct interaction with video content is a rather fascinating one (particularly with touch interfaces) and their execution of it is still the best I've seen. I've embedded an example above (for the retailer Oki-ni - you can see the tags when you put your cursor over it) and one below (the world's first shoppable music video for Canada's biggest biggest online fashion retailer SSENSE). Anyway, I've kept in touch with the guys since that meeting and decided to do a short interview with Dan. I like the fact that they are a startup and I think their work deserves as wide an audience as possible.
NP: In a few sentences, how does Wirewax work?
DG: Dead simple. Upload a video, draw a box around the person or object you want to make interactive – let the system do the clever stuff and just decide what you want to happen when they click. Whether to show product information, display another video, show a map, a profile etc.
NP: You've used the term 'intelligent video' to describe the area you play in. What's that all about?
DG: Video has been dumb for way too long. Colour was arguably the last major evolution. The web is, well, exactly that… a web of interlinked documents, texts and basically, communication. We'll tag a friend in a Facebook comment, link to an article on our blog, reference a Wikipedia piece in a quote, yet when we get to video, one of the most powerful and popular mediums of our time, it all, well… stops. Computers don't understand video, they don't know there's a person there, a product there or your friend there… they just seeing moving pixels.
This is the challenge wireWAX is utterly focused on, making video part of the web, making it intelligent. Anyone watching video should be able to stop, click on something in a video that interests them and see it/hear it/follow it/share it as we do everything else in our digital world.
NP: What are the really exciting potential applications for taggable/clickable video and where might this go in the future?
DG: We've just rolled out our latest version, which introduces new wizardry where you can now upload a video and it will automatically tag the people in it. In the coming months we'll be rolling out more of this simplifcation to get to the point where, if you don't want to, you don't have to tag the video at all. You can be at a house party taking a video of your friends falling into the pool with dirty cocktails and just upload it. wireWAX will automatically tag your friends from Facebook and track them through the video. Comment on them, share moments and find people, all in the video. Or why not shoot a video of your band and put profiles on each of your band members to encourage fans to follow them on Twitter.
Some of the most exciting developments for us come in the home. Television secretly loves the internet and we're playing cupid right now.
NP: What's the single biggest lesson you've learned as a startup that it would be useful to pass on to other startups?
DG: There's never been a better time to be a tech start-up. With free wi-fi, cloud services, Google docs, open-source and relatively cheap hardware you have everything you need to start building prototypes and developing ideas, so there's no excuse. But you still need capital to turn a bedroom idea into a realistic, scalable business and take it to market. The biggest thing is to swallow your pride, go look for investment and get your idea, team & pitch into the best shape they can possibly be; and convince someone with money to share your vision, you can't do it on your own. Then forget investment (for a bit) and focus on customers!