Boulder-based computer vision startup Occipital has raised $7 million in Series A funding, and aims to leverage the investment to develop a next-generation computer vision platform.

Occipital, a TechStars veteran, is most widely known for the hit barcode-scanning app RedLaser, which it sold to eBay last year. Now, the startup’s most notable app is 360 Panorama for 3D panoramic image captures via mobile.

But Occipital has bigger plans. It wants to be the computer vision foundation — just as RedLaser became the backbone of many barcode-scanning apps — powering apps that will help mobile users interact with the physical world around them.

“360 Panorama is just the tip of the iceberg,” says co-founder Jeff Powers. What’s the whole iceberg actually look like?

“The iceberg is what sits underneath 360 Panorama — it’s the beginnings of a sophisticated computer vision platform that aims to fundamentally transform the way we interact with environments,” co-founder Vikas Reddy explains to Mashable. “Think computer vision plus augmented reality and the applications that become possible when your smartphone has a visual understanding of its surroundings.”

This is where third-party developers will come into play. Occipital will be soon be launching a platform that will give enterprising developers a crack at creating new layers on top of the computer vision technology inside 360 Panorama.

“Currently, there are companies that have introduced specific mobile applications that use limited computer-vision techniques,” says Occipital investor and new board member Jason Mendelson. “No one has produced a platform that allows developers to create dynamic content that automatically leverages best-in-class computer vision technology.”

Occipital’s $7 million Series A round was led by Foundry Group. Jason Mendelson and Brad Feld of Foundry Group, Manu Kumar of K9 Ventures and Gary Bradski of Willow Garage will join the startup’s board.

Image courtesy of Flickr, jurvetson

More About: 360 panorama, Augmented Reality, funding, occipital, startup

For more Dev & Design coverage:

Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook all compete for top talent. In doing so, they lure and acqui-hire the brightest minds in tech — who, unfortunately for them, later go on to trade these cushy jobs for the rough-and-tumble life of a startup founder.

Which of these four mega powers in tech (at one point or another) has produced, and hence pushed out, the top talent in the industry? A little analysis of the startups that have come from the former employees of these tech heavy-hitters, and a look at the funding these startups have raised, might shed some light on the answer.

TopProspect to the rescue. The startup, a site that helps you get hired through your social network friends, fashioned the infographic below after analyzing data, dating back to 2006, from its users and their social connections — that pool includes more than 3 million folks mostly in the Silicon Valley area.

“We only focused on companies founded in the last 5 years,” the startup explains of its data analysis. “Second, we made sure that the companies had at least 10 employees in our network (a pretty good sign that they’re legit, and well-connected). Finally, we only included companies with publicly available funding information.”

Google is birthing the most successful founders, if you measure success by funds raised (which isn’t always the best measurement of success). The search powerhouse-turned-social-media company has spawned 13 qualified founders in five years — who’ve started companies including Foursquare, Color and Qwiki. Together, these startups have raised a whopping $309 million in funding.

Lowest on the totem pole, at least for now, is Facebook. Its offspring includes seven founders — altogether raising more than $65 million — who have gone on to found startups such as Quora, Path and Asana.

Surprised by the results? Check out the full infographic below and share your thoughts with us in the comments.




Image courtesy of Flickr, satanslaundromat

More About: facebook, founders, Google, infographic, microsoft, startups, topprospect, Yahoo




Developers have already flocked to Evernote’s note-taking platform in droves to provide its 11 million members with additional utility. Now, six new application makers will vie for the crown of most inventive Evernote application or integration and compete for $100,000 in prizes.

The six finalists, being revealed Tuesday, are Colorstache, MyWorld, Notablemeals, Sniptastic, Touchanote and Zendone. Community members are being encouraged to vote for their favorites.

The finalists range from the practical to the fantastical. Zendone and Colorstache are more sensible in nature, for instance. Zendone focuses on applying a “Getting Things Done” methodology to notes, while Colorstache lets Evernote users browse and search for notes by Color.

The flashier MyWorld and Touchanote add spunk and character to the Evernote experience. MyWorld gives Evernote users an augmented reality browser for viewing notes, and Touchnote makes NFC note-tagging and association possible. More details on all of the finalists are included below.

The finalists were selected based on a few key factors: finish and polish of the application, utility, originality and integration with the platform. Each will be awarded $5,000 for placing in the contest.

“Evernote currently has over 6,000 developers working on software and hardware integrations using out API,” says Andrew Sinkov, Evernote’s vice president of marketing. “We wanted to see what would happen if we did a developer competition as an incentive. We’re pretty blown away by the results. We had over 1,000 developers enter the competition from around the world.”

The grand prize winner will be chosen based on community votes, the votes of celebrity judges and live judging at the startup’s first-ever developer conference in August. The winner will revealed at the event — the Evernote Truck Conference — and will take home an additional $50,000 in cash. Evernote will also award two additional submissions with $10,000 each in the wildcard and student categories.

Check out the Evernote applications below and share your favorites in the comments. Should you wish to attend the event, Evernote is offering the first 50 Mashable readers who register via this link (with the “ETCMASHABLE” discount code) a 50% discount.

Colorstache

Colorstache, by Reno Collective, offers Evernote users a way to browse and search their notes by color.

Touchanote

Touchanote, by Wiseleap, connects the capture and organization capabilities of Evernote with the convenience of physical NFC tags. Easily associate any note in your account with a real world NFC tag.

MyWorld

MyWorld, by Wikitude, allows you to save the places you love in Evernote, then view them on a map in Facebook. You can then share your favorites with friends and view the places they’ve been.

Sniptastic

Sniptastic, from Andrew West, is a set of developer tools that let you share and organize code snippets.

Notablemeals

Notablemeals, from John McLaughlin and Kal Michael, is an iPhone app that makes it easy to capture memories about meals.

Zendone

Zendone is a personal productivity tool based on the Getting Things Done methodology. It offers a simple, well-designed interface for implementing the GTD workflow, using Evernote for collecting and archiving projects and tasks.

More About: evernote, evernote trunk, notes, startup, Web Development

For more Dev & Design coverage:

Jonathan Deutsch and Ryan Nielsen left Apple late last year to join Y Combinator’s accelerator program and help designers build animations in HTML5 as opposed to Flash. Friday, the two-man team is releasing Hype, the first product of their startup Tumult, on the Mac App Store.

Hype, which sells for $29.99, uses WebKit to render pages and has been crafted so that anyone comfortable with using Keynote or PowerPoint can start building animations in HTML5, no code required.

“It’s pretty clear that HTML5 is the future of the web,” says Deutsch. “It will, of course, run not only on desktop machines but also runs really well on any modern smartphone or tablet like the iPad. The problem is that there are no good designer apps for creating animated HTML5 like there are for Flash.”

Hype presents the user with a blank canvas with a timeline at the bottom. The user can then drag in images, video and text, arrange those elements and use keyframe-based animations to define where those pieces of content go.

“This is a very designer-friendly process,” Deutsch explains. “We we even made an intuitive recording interface, so you don’t have laboriously layout each individual keyframe. You can just hit record, move your objects and go. It’s really easy to make some powerful, beautiful animations.”

The animations, at least based on these samples, are impressive and present web designers with a viable Flash alternative for carrying their creative work over onto mobile devices. The tool is also intended to be developer-friendly and allows the user to edit raw HTML or Javascript.

As a bonus, Deutsch and Nielsen have built Dropbox integration into Hype, meaning users can publish their animations to Dropbox, as opposed to an FTP site, to solicit feedback from co-workers or clients.

Hype is targeting three primary markets: designers looking to add animations to their websites, Flash developers who need to deploy their content on the iPhone or iPad, and existing users of HTML5.

“There’s a huge wide opportunity with HTML5,” says Nielsen. “We can be the tool that everyone turns to to produce awesome and animated interactive content using the latest standards.”

Both Deutsch and Nielsen speak of a desire to push the HTML5 standard forward and will continue to iterate on the Hype product with more interactive and animation features. The pair is looking at how to weave WebGL, a technology for creating 3D content on the web, into the Hype experience.

Tumult has so far only taken Y Combinator and Start Fund financing. Deutsch and Nielsen hope to finance operations through Mac application sales.

More About: animations, design, HTML5, hype, mac apps, Tumult, y combinator

For more Dev & Design coverage:

Uber trendy mobile photo sharing startup Instagram is fast-approaching 300,000 photo uploads per day and closing in on 2 million members. It has also just released its API in private beta, according to an announcement on the startup’s blog.

The Instagram API will give selected developers access to the startup’s data and allow them to incorporate Instagram photos within their own applications. This marks a significant move by the startup; the decision will open up photos and user data, once locked down to the iPhone, to more web and mobile services and potentially spawn a new wave of user growth.

Interestingly enough, the Instagram API news follows Picplz’s public beta release of its API just hours earlier.

“Although we’re excited by the growth we’ve seen, we feel that the first step to creating a lasting company is to work with the many talented developers out there in the world,” writes CEO Kevin Systrom on the release.

Systrom assures app users that they will maintain ownership and privacy control of their images, saying that Instragram is granting access on an invite-only basis to ensure users’ photos stay protected.

“We’ve taken a close look at how to best protect your images and data while enabling developers to build cool stuff,” says Systrom. “We’d like to make sure that the people we do let in create quality apps that increase the aggregate utility of the ecosystem.”

With nearly simultaneous API releases, Instagram and Picplz have created a new battlefield and are now fighting for developer attention. Instagram’s API remains private while Picplz’s is public, which gives the Mixed Media Labs startup a marked advantage over the competition.

More About: api, developers, instagram, mobile photo sharing, picplz, trending

For more Dev & Design coverage:




The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: Wallcast

Quick Pitch: Wallcast is a PC and Mac application that transforms your wallpaper into a dynamic collage of photos from you, your family and your friends.

Genius Idea: Husband and wife Eric Bouchard and Marie Asselin were visiting Paris after Bouchard sold his first company. As expected, the couple was fielding requests from their parents to send photos during their six-month trip. That, along with the observation that their parents’ desktop wallpapers were, more often than not, showcasing poor quality photos, inspired the pair to create a tool to make desktop wallpapers more dynamic, beautiful, personal and collaborative.

The duo worked with a small development shop in their hometown of Quebec to turn their vision into a reality, and in late December 2010, Wallcast was released. Wallcast is PC and Mac software that creates and continuously updates your desktop wallpaper from a pool of photos submitted by you or your friends and family members.

The initial setup process is a bit cumbersome, but once you upload a few photos and install the PC or Mac software, you’ll start to see Wallcast come to life. The wallpaper highlights five photos pulled from the photos you upload, e-mail or add via iPhone app. Your wallpaper will automatically refresh with new photos every 15 minutes, depending on your preferences.

The most powerful aspect to Wallcast is that friends and family members can submit photos to your wallpaper via e-mail or iPhone app. You’ll need to invite them through the website, but once you do, the photos they submit are added to your pool and automatically swapped in and out of your dynamic wallpaper.

An Android Wallcast app is also in the works. The app, like the existing iPhone app, will enable you to quickly capture and share photos with your wallpaper or the wallpapers of others. The Android version will also let you use the dynamic wallpaper on your device, a feature not available to iPhone users.

Desktop wallpaper may seem passé, but Wallcast almost feels like a more realistic implementation of a “private network” than the mobile private photo-sharing experience Path is attempting to engineer. It’s not inherently social in the way that social media denizens expect, but that’s intentional and the end result is something that is still both deeply personal and a shared experience with close friends and family.

Asselin and Bouchard initially planned to support photo integration with Twitter and Facebook, but quickly realized that wallpapers would get cluttered with junk photos. The two are, however, working on features that will allow you to selectively pull photos from social sites into your wallpaper collage. A browser plugin that will let you right click photos on the web and send them to your wallpaper is in the works, for instance.

At the end of the day, Asselin says the couple hopes that Wallcast will bring people closer through the one screen most of us stare at all day long.


Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark


Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: desktop wallpaper, iphone, mac, pc, spark-of-genius, startup, wallcast




Four-year-old ticketing startup Eventbrite had a strong 2010. According to numbers released by the company today, the event ticketing platform was responsible for more than 11 million ticket sales, grossing nearly $207 million for the year.

The massive ticket sales figures represent sales for event organizers, but they mean that the company is pulling in substantial revenue through ticketing fees. Eventbrite takes a nice cut of all for-charge ticket sales — roughly 2.5% of the ticket value plus $0.99 per ticket .

Eventbrite also reported strong traffic for the year. On average, the site saw more than 17 million pageviews per month, with October coming in as the highest trafficked month at 6.7 million unique visitors.

Founded in 2006, Eventbrite has grown to become a dominate force in online ticketing. In 2010, 222,353 events — across 147 countries and 9,370 cities — were posted to site, according to a company blog post published earlier today.

Look for even more growth from Eventbrite in 2011. The startup closed $20 million in Series D finacing late last year to fuel expansion.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Laughing Squid

More About: eventbrite, startup




The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: GoldRun

Quick Pitch: Using augmented reality app GoldRun, advertisers create scavenger hunts for virtual goods in physical locations.

Genius Idea: Buzz has been big around augmented reality, but few companies have figured out a way to turn it into an effective marketing tool. We’ve seen brands invoke everything from Iron Man masks to musical cheese snacks in efforts to incorporate augmented reality into their marketing plans. But none of these ideas exactly created the AdWords of augmented reality.

GoldRun, which launched in November with a campaign for H&M, comes closer to creating a marketing platform that will be useful across multiple industries. The app allows brands to create virtual scavenger hunts. When consumers download the free GoldRun app and sign up to follow a campaign or “run,” they can collect virtual goods from physical locations using their phone’s camera. During the H&M campaign, for instance, users could collect a different virtual item from the brand’s fall/winter collection by snapping a photo of it in front of each of its 10 Manhattan locations. Doing so resulted in an instant 10% discount on any H&M purchase.

The platform’s agility is its greatest strength. AirWalk used the platform to build virtual pop-up stores in locations in Washington Square Park and Venice Beach at which app users could purchase a special edition shoe from its website (VP of Business Development Shailesh Rao calls it “V-Commerce”). The NBC’s Today Show ran a scavenger hunt for virtual items in Rockefeller Plaza. Esquire Magazine is planning a campaign that will virtually place its February cover model, Brooklyn Decker, in more than 700 Barnes and Noble stores. Other planned campaigns range from the Sundance Film Festival to Gwen Stefani’s perfume line.

GoldRun provides a more interactive and customizable approach to location-based advertising than check-in games like Foursquare and Gowalla. Campaigns, in addition to distributing special offers, include an option for users to create interesting photos (items in the H&M campaign, for instance, were positioned in a way in which they could be virtually “tried on”). Users share these photos through their Facebook profiles, which is more valuable for the brand than shared check-in information.

Given how eager brands have been to adopt location-based marketing through check-in apps, it’s not a surprise that many are eager to run campaigns on the GoldRun app. Rao says that more than 40 companies from various industries have approached the as of now self-funded startup about running a campaign. It will be interesting to see if consumers respond with equivalent enthusiasm.


Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark


Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: Augmented Reality, esquire, GoldRun, MARKETING, mobile app




Tumblr founder David Karp showed up yesterday to christen his company’s new office in Richmond, Virginia.

At the opening celebration, the popular blogging platform’s founder spoke extensively about the startup’s plans for the future — plans that definitely set it apart from the product-focused startup scene on the West Coast and plans that will make the most of the company’s recent $30 million round of funding.

In an interview with local writer Johnny Hugel, Karp said that community — a huge part of Tumblr’s success so far — would play a larger role than product in the near future.

He’s even making community management, especially in creative communities such as fashion and film, a central goal for Tumblr.

“You look in fashion, creative writing, photography, music, so many of these creative circles,” said Karp, “and we have these really substantial communities that now live on Tumblr.

Tumblr has, in the past, put on events like concerts and film festivals around those groups. “They did wonderful things for the communities… resonated through the industries and brought attention to all of the stuff that was happening on Tumblr,” Karp continued.

“So that’s something that we want to get better at doing this next year… I imagine that by the end of this year, that’ll end up being maybe be half of our team.”

One new hire who will be working extensively in events and community is Rich Tong, Tumblr’s fashion director. We’re not aware of any other startup outside of the fashion world that has a fashion director; but we suppose that’s the point: Tumblr doesn’t see itself as being outside the fashion world or any other creative community.

Tong founded Weardrobe, a social fashion site that was acquired by Google mid-2010. In addition to being a good product guy with an entrepreneurial bent, Karp says, “He also has the fashion vocabulary, so unlike everybody else at Tumblr, he can go into that community and say, ‘Well, why do you use Tumblr? What could we be doing better? What’s the most interesting stuff that’s going on right now, and where do we find it?’”

Karp said he expects to make as many as 70 new hires before the end of 2011 — a move that would more than triple the startup’s current staff.

As far as product goes, Karp says engineers are still focused on creating the best experience possible. Soon, he said, “directories are getting a major overhaul.” In keeping with the company’s focus on community, Karp also expects to release some custom tools around film festivals and major fashion events.

We’ve also have a shiny new iPad app to look forward to, and mobile apps will also continue to be a focus of the company, whose mobile dev team all reside in Richmond and will be holding court at the new offices.

Can a strong focus on the creative communities help Tumblr continue to compete against forces like WordPress and Posterous? This NYC-based startup’s approach to community is quite different from what we’ve seen in other corners of the world, but for this product and this platform’s users, it just might work.

More About: blogging, community, david-karp, tumblr




This post is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark as a new part of the Spark of Genius series that focuses on a new and innovative startup each day. Every Thursday, the program focuses on startups within the BizSpark program and what they’re doing to grow.

No matter what your religious persuasions are, it’s hard to name a book that has had more influence than the Bible. Literature, wars, customs and geography have all been inspired by its content, and there’s good reason for scholars of just about every liberal arts topic to have a copy on their bookshelves.

But what most people don’t see when they look at the Bible is an opportunity for high tech entrepreneurship. Nelson Saba, the CEO of Immersion Digital, is an exception. In 2002, he led the development of a digital interactive Bible that was purchased by about 600,000 people. In 2008, the company raised $7 million in angel funding to launch a new version, which aims to not only supplement — but replace — the paper version of the Bible.

Saba recently spoke with Mashable about creating a platform that not only enhances an ancient text, but also has the potential to revolutionize educational texts across every topic.


Beyond Scholars


CES

Immersion Digital was not the first company to create a Bible software, but most Bible software that came before it targeted scholars rather than families. The first product, Illumina, was designed for families to use as a Bible. And Glo, the version the company released in 2009, is even more so.

“We started to realize that there were now several generations that were digital, and now it’s not just a matter of creating a powerful way of communicating the Bible,” Saba says. “We thought it was necessary to have something that could be literally a digital alternative to the paper. Something that you, as someone who belongs to that digital generation, would favor over paper.”

The current version has a beautiful zoomable user interface that allows users to “dive into the content,” and it’s easy to browse the Bible from a variety of angles. You could, for instance, search for everything about marriage. You just as easily search for everything that happened in Jerusalem or everything that happened in a specific time period. Every topic also has interactive components like an atlas, videos, time lines and photos.


Beyond Software


In 2010, Glo won the Superbowl trophy of Bible publishing: The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association‘s Bible of the Year award. It was the first digital product to win.

“It was kind of a validation for us, that digital is not seen anymore as a software,” Saba says. “Digital is really seen as a media that can be used to deliver books, in this case the Bible…we don’t even use the word software that much, because… we really don’t want to be perceived as anything other than a Bible in a digital form.”


Beyond Desktops


CES

Much of Glo’s strategy for becoming more of a book replacement rather than a desktop program relies on breaking out of the browser.

“This new product was released for both desktops and laptops at first, which we knew was not our target, but that’s what we had so we launched with what we had aiming at where we are getting at…which is really the mobile platforms,” Saba says.

Microsoft highlighted Glo’s app for a Windows 7 tablet at CES, and the freemium model app will be released along with a similar iPad app later this month.


Beyond Bibles


CES

What Immersion Digital has created in Glo is not only a Bible, but a platform that highlights the potential of digital books to be more than electronic copies of their paper counterparts. The ability to have context and visualization of concepts at your fingertips is something that nearly any textbook could benefit from.

“This product is an educational product focused on teaching people about the Bible, that’s what our vocation is as a product,” Saba says. “The combination of the experience and exploration that you can have with interactive media, with the text itself, it lends it naturally to this very engaging and active learning experience — you are navigating, you’re leading it, and as you do so you’re learning.”

Immersion Digital’s plan is to apply the platform to other topics. It is planning a prototype for subjects like history or geography that it will market to publishers of textbooks.


Sponsored by Microsoft BizSpark


BizSpark is a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: bible, bizspark, e-books, Glo, religion, spark-of-genius