Since July 27th, the Android app market has one new and exciting treat: Lollicam. Created by the startup Seerslab and originally launched in South Korea, this video app has scored more than 300,000 downloads in its homeland. It has now made its way across the Pacific to the Bay Area where it presents itself to a bigger crowd.
Lollicam’s developers affectionately refer to it as ‘the magic mirror.’ What differentiates Lollicam from the conventional video apps? Instead of a realistic HD image, Lollicam offers its users a polished, refined image of whatever is being filmed. We already have that, one may think, and it is true. There are more than enough selfie/picture editing apps out there with options like Photowonder, FaceTune, SkinnyCam, etc. So, exactly how is Lollicam different? The photo editing happens in real time, which means images and videos are edited as they are being taken. The special sauce of Lollicam that makes this possible is its face-recognition engine that constantly analyzes the user’s face. The app then edits the images, rendering the facial image to have slimmer jawlines, better skin, bigger eyes, etc. This functionality also makes it possible for the various stickers within the app to apply themselves accordingly to the user’s face. Want to add a mustache to your selfie? Click the icon and the mustache will appear on the screen and right under your nose as you take the picture.
The biggest advantage that Lollicam has is it simplifies video editing. Videos taken on cell phones are difficult to edit on both PC and cells — editing a cell phone video on PC has convertibility issues while editing on a cell is difficult due its small screen and limited software. The app’s catchphrase ‘Bring Hollywood to your everyday life’ exactly points at how the app makes video editing easier. Yet, there are some challenges present. First is the processing speed of the app; the app can significantly slow down when tracking videos in real time if the face-recognition engine is not fully adapted to the mobile environment. Lollicam’s graphic effects, such as its stickers and filters, also take up a lot of memory, making the app prone to slowing down. Expanding its customer base to the Bay Area means that an iOS version has to be built as well. This may be slightly easier in programming — unlike an Android app that needs a Java Virtual Machine to translate the written code to function in a mobile environment — as iOS does not require the extra translation process. However, at the same time, iOS users are usually more scrutinous on aesthetics, pushing the designers to exert their efforts on the graphics and effects.
Despite such challenges, Lollicam is, nonetheless, excited for its new journey in the Bay Area. The focus on marketing has changed to accommodate the new customers and their culture. According to Summer Jung, the product manager for Seerslab, the users in Asian countries are predominantly young women who prefer ‘glam’ selfies. In the Bay Area, however, Lollicam will take a funnier, sillier approach to attract a wider audience. The mission is to give its users an enjoyable experience of exchanging images, GIFs, and videos with friends and family. The addition of their new art director, Gianni, who has a strong VFX background, as well as their future plans to collaborate with providers such as Disney for animated stickers and effects, would help Lollicam achieve this goal.
Summer adds that she appreciates how Silicon Valley has a great ecosystem for startups. “It may be because all the major players in the Valley, such as Google or Facebook, also started out as startups at some point,” she comments, “I really appreciate how they still remain entrepreneurial and support small startups.” Seerslab itself has been selected by FbStart, a new program from Facebook that is designed to help early-stage mobile app companies and support them by providing Hootsuite credits, Facebook ad credits, Mailchimp credits, and so on. Such assets are crucial to small startups with a limited budget and even less connections for stable investment. Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Service are other examples of big, stable companies supporting small, new startups. “The Bay Area as a whole is very open to new products,” says Summer. “There are many people who are willing to invest in ideas even if they don’t have a real product yet. It is the ideal place for people with great ideas to make them come true.”