Viewdle, a San Jose, Calif.-based startup, believes it has the solution to help consumers manage and share their storehouse of pics and vids, although the product is not due out until early next year.
The company is announcing today that it has raised a $10 million Series B round of funding from Best Buy Capital, BlackBerry Partners Fund, Qualcomm Ventures and returning investor Anthem Venture Partners. Anthem previously invested $2.5 million in the company’s Series A round in early 2008, soon after Viewdle was launched.
The latest funding will be used to help the company continue to develop its facial recognition technology, which it says can identify who’s in the pictures and videos in real-time.
“The problem that many consumers face today is that the more photos and videos they shoot, the harder it is to manage them and store them and post them and identify who’s in them,” says CEO and co-founder Laurent Gil. “We’ll be able to help with that.”
Viewdle, which Gil says has already been granted five U.S. patents, uses state-of-the-art facial recognition technology to identify people in pictures and videos, making it ideal for when smartphone users upload photos to social networking sites. The people in the pictures would then be instantly tagged, and Gil points out that only a user’s friends and network connections would be identified in photos.
I couldn’t help but notice that the BlackBerry Partners Fund is taking part in this funding a week after RIM unveiled its plans to soon release a tablet computer called BlackBerry Playbook. Gil wouldn’t comment much on BlackBerry’s involvement, but the Playbook is expected to have a front and rear facing camera, meaning the Viewdle’s facial identification technology could come in handy for the device.
As part of the funding, John Albright from the BlackBerry Partners Fund and Kuk Yi from Best Buy have joined Viewdle’s board.
Viewdle plans to release its product in a few months. Gil acknowledges that the facial identification technology could have uses in security-related fields, but he says that’s not what he and his co-founders set out to do.
“Truly, we are just looking for ways to manage pictures and videos of our friends,” says Gil, who co-founded the company with other students and a professor from the Institute of Cybernetics in Kiev. The company continues to employ more than 40 engineers at its Kiev-based location, while it also has six employees at its corporate headquarters in San Jose, Calif.