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Gluon: A photo-sharing app based on where you go, not who you know

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By Molly Lautamo
Special to Santa Cruz Tech Beat

June 23, 2016 — Santa Cruz, CA

New app connects you to nearby users & events through location-based photo sharing

Gluon screenshot shows inside an event album on the iOS app.

Gluon screenshot shows inside an event album on the iOS app.

Think back to the last big event you attended. Maybe it was a live show, a hockey game, or a wedding. You probably took a few photos, but what about the countless other photos taken by everyone else at the event? You can try searching for them using hashtags and location, but these are unreliable. People inevitably misspell the event hashtag, make up their own, or don’t bother tagging the location. Unless you know each person’s username for all their social media accounts, you’re only going to see a small fraction of the night’s captured moments.

What if you could easily find all those photos (and videos), regardless of whether or not you know the photographer’s username and chosen hashtag?

Turns out, there’s an app for that.

Filling the gap in social sharing

The Gluon app is focused on the familiar concept of photo-sharing, but with a couple major differences: Hashtags aren’t a thing and you don’t have to follow individual users to see a full photo feed. Instead, when you open the app it automatically finds your location and shares all of the cool photos and videos with you of stuff happening nearby. You can follow certain people if you want, or you can just choose to view posts categorized by your location, most popular, or events.

Gary Herman, CEO of Santa Cruz-based Jabico Enterprises, and Nick Zipse, software engineer at Jabico, co-founded the company because they recognized there was a gap in social sharing. “We have these supercomputers in our pockets,” says Herman, “and yet I can’t share photos with people I don’t know, even though they’re sitting right next to me?”

Gluon screenshot shows what's directly around you during an event.

Gluon screenshot shows what’s directly around you during an event.

After attending countless weddings that required you to upload photos to a Facebook album (which most people never do) in order to share them with all the guests, Herman partnered up with Zipse to figure out how to use geolocation tracking to populate your feed with nearby photos.

The process seems somewhat straightforward: You take a photo, it gets sent up to the cloud, and then shared with every person in the general vicinity in a matter of seconds. As it turns out, 15 different services are actually involved in this process and the algorithms Herman and Zipse have created are anything but simple. These algorithms break down the barriers to sharing photos with anyone around you, no Facebook friendship required.

Sharing with strangers

Sharing photos with strangers is not a new concept: if you have a public profile on Instagram and Facebook you do this on a daily basis and no matter what your profile status is on Twitter, anyone can follow your feed. What you can’t do with these platforms is easily find people around you without knowing their username. With Gluon, you don’t even have to remember to tag your location, mention the venue, or use the appropriate hashtag. You just create an event and share your photo, and the app automatically tags your location so anyone nearby can see the post.

The future of fan engagement

If you’re a venue, Gluon takes targeted advertising from specific demographics to hyperlocal. As a music venue, for instance, you can target only the people within a certain radius of that night’s show (the larger the radius, the higher the cost), notifying users of show times and that night’s performers or enticing more people to attend by showing a live photo and video feed of the event.

This live photo stream can also be displayed on your website by adding  the free provided widget to the site’s code, complete with a filter to ensure only appropriate photos end up on the site. After the event, the photos can remain on the your site as an album or collage, easily available to share on social media platforms and tagged by location.

The app’s technology has been in the works for over a year, and Gluon is now available to download for free in the AppStore. If you own an iphone, type “Gluon” in the AppStore to download. Otherwise you can explore photos at https://gluon.co/.

To learn more, please contact nickzipse@gluon.co


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Molly Lautamo is a writer & content strategist at mollylautamo.com.

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