Last week, the Occipital team packed their bags and gathered in the Rocky Mountains for 3 days of planning, team-building, and fun. All the event details were kept under wraps to the team, who spent the week leading up to the retreat filled with inquisitions about what we were to be doing and some pretty harebrained ideas of what was in store for the team (Trust falls? Man vs. Wild style challenges? Hunger Games?).
We chose to head to Steamboat Springs, staying in an incredible place. While Steamboat may primarily be known as a ski destination, we found plenty of awesome things to do even without the powder.
3 days away went quick, as we enjoyed time with each other, hiking, a pizza cooking lesson (where we perfected our pizza crust toss), a trip to Strawberry Hill hot springs, hot tubbing, pool, shuffleboard, basketball, and yes, plenty of reflecting on the highlights of the year past and planning for the next big thing.
To the highlight reel:
If 360 Panorama sounds a little different these days, it’s probably because it has recently become multi-lingual. As part of version 4.1, 360 Panorama is now fluent in deutsch, thanks to our intern Marian Gläser.
A student at the University of Applied Science of Berlin (Hochschule für Natur und Technik) studying International Media and Computing, Marian was seeking an internship that would meld his interest in computer vision and iOS development, and put him back in the US (having spent a year in Indiana previously as an exchange student). Since joining us, he has spent time in our Boulder and San Francisco offices, proving himself to be truly multi-talented. He’s filled in on projects acting as Director of Cinematography, Backend Engineer, Frontend Engineer, and yes, lead German translator.
Marian’s enthusiasm for bringing the app to Germany convinced us to give localization a try sooner rather than later, and the initial reaction has been positive. Since the update 360 Panorama made it all the way to the #1 Photo & Video app in the German App Store, to which we say,
Herzlich Willkommen Freunde aus Deutschland!
Marian is quite pleased with the outcome as well, saying, “I did it with a lot of passion and with love for details, which has been met with incredible feedback of my fellow countrymen. I feel honored to have brought 360 Panorama to Deutschland!”
Marian arrived in December, and will be spending one more month with us before he heads home to work on his thesis (on Computer Vision connected to Social Media) to complete his Bachelor Degree. Post-graduation, Marian plans to pursue further studies in Computing and Business.
We’ve truly enjoyed having Marian and his talents as a part of the Occipital team for the past 5 months and will be sad to see him go in May. But rest assured, Marian will leave a legacy behind at Occipital, as the first to share 360 Panorama in a different tongue. Glückwunsch Marian! We’ll miss you!
Think you’re the next great Occipital intern? Connect with us at jobs [@] occipital.com.
We just released a brand new and awesome version of 360 Panorama in the App Store today. Everyone on the team put in a lot of hard work into version 4.1. We are very excited to get it in your hands.
This version has a great collection of new features and support for the new iPad’s amazing Retina display.
The app is a living and breathing organism for us. We are constantly using it every day, thinking about how we can improve it, and discussing our ideas. And believe me, we have no shortage of those.
We carefully pick and choose what the next update will include by thinking about how we can make the app more magical, simpler, and easier to use.
To quote @chamillionare: “Making everything simple is actually complicated most of the time…”
Most importantly we listen to what our customers have to say. We have a great community of users that actively keep in touch and send us valuable feedback.
With version 4.1 we are introducing the in-app panorama list. You can now quickly browse and view your panoramas with clear thumbnails instead of searching for them in your camera roll.
We also display dates for your panoramas and show which ones you’ve uploaded. It will be much easier to take a bunch of panoramas and upload them for sharing, enhancement, and safe keeping when you get back home to fast internet.
Once you capture a panorama, 360 will automatically save it to your list so you don’t have to worry about tapping the ‘Save’ button. In fact, the ‘Save’ button is now gone! Wait a minute! What if you want to save panoramas to your photo library? Easy. Tap the new ‘Camera Roll’ button in the ‘Share’ menu and 360 will export your panorama for you.
Finally, there’s the beautiful full-screen viewing mode: While you are viewing a panorama, tap the screen to hide the menu bar and the other buttons and get an immersive display of the scenery. Don’t forget to tap the ‘Gyro’ button for further awesomeness.
Make sure to check out the full-screen viewing especially on your iPad. It’s the next best thing to being there. I promise you will be impressed.
Oh, and there is one more thing. 360 Panorama now speaks Deutsch in the German store.
Willkommen bei 360 Panorama.
Occipital is proud to be a TechStars company. Beyond spending 3 great months doing more faster in 2008, we continue to benefit as active members of the Techstars family. We keep close ties with the program, especially those in the Boulder program. That’s where we first met Danny, and well, we’ll let him tell you the rest of the story:
A year ago I was bored. I was at a gigantic company, too big for its own good. My job title said Software Engineer, yet I was averaging about one line of code per meeting I was attending. That lack of productivity was slowly sucking the life out of me. My only coding joy came on nights and weekends when I was able to tinker with the apps or websites I had built to teach myself some new things. It was time to search for something more exciting.
However, beyond looking for excitement, I had no direction. Something fast paced, a place where I could help create and innovate, but where? Startups seemed meet those criteria, but as a complete outsider to that world, where would I begin? How would I know if a company was right for me?
I’d been following TechStars for years and it seemed like a holy grail for tech startups, but without a company or even a cofounder, it didn’t look like I’d have the pleasure of learning about building a company from some of the greatest mentors in the world anytime soon.
That’s when I discovered Hackstars, a back door into the TechStars program. As a Hackstar, I’d get to go through the TechStars program as a mercenary developer, helping out the companies wherever I could for the duration of the 3 month program. I’d also be meeting and learning from some of the greatest entrepreneurs around, just like everyone else in Techstars. The skies opened, light rained down on my keyboard, and I started my application. After a few weeks (and some incessant emailing) I met with Nicole Glaros and secured my spot as a Hackstar for TechStars Boulder 2011.
The 3 months I spent in TechStars were everything I’d hoped they’d be and more. I was looking for new opportunities and I found them in tremendous, tremendous supply after the program. I went from a complete outsider to having some of the best connections you can have in the Boulder startup community (and beyond). As it came time to find a job I was put in touch with Occipital, a company I saw as one of the great success stories of TechStars. It was soon clear this was the place I could proudly sport my new Hackstar credentials.
Shortly after demo day I started working at Occipital as a mobile engineer. When I had dreamed of something new and exciting a few months earlier, I couldn’t have pictured things working out as well as they did. I owe most of it, if not all, to being a Hackstar. If you’re thinking about applying, do it. You won’t regret it.
We’re happy to have Danny’s mobile development talents on the Occipital team. In addition to cranking out code to support 360 Panorama on Android, Danny is the founding member of the Occipital quadcopter R&D team.
The mobile landscape and Apple’s iOS are evolving at the speed of light.
One of the best ways to keep up with this ever changing ecosystem is the VTM iOS Developer Conference where you can attend talks by domain experts and meet many fellow developers. It’s a great way to keep your skills sharp and find inspiration.
A couple of us attended the conference over the last weekend in Boston (Nov 12-13). We enjoyed listening to an interesting variety of both technical and philosophical discussions about new features in iOS5, development strategies, and the future of mobile.
This year marked Jeff’s third time speaking at a VTM conference. He gave a talk about how to enrich the user experience of mobile apps by not limiting it to the two dimensional interface of the touchscreen. Jeff discussed how to use the many sensors available on smartphones (e.g. gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, etc.) as complimentary inputs.
Staying true to the premise of his talk, Jeff built a sample app for the audience step-by-step with a brand new UI for “time travel”. His app set the “time” by physically moving the device just like the arms of an analog clock. (check out his slides here)
Another highlight for me was the closing address, “Beyond the Gold Rush”, by Brent Simmons. He talked about the past, present, and future of mobile. Brent predicted that the next 5 years will be even more magical and revolutionary.
He challenged the audience to realize this future by “solving the hard problems” because the mainstream users have now embraced mobile devices and are ready to go way beyond the fart and flashlight apps.
We accept the challenge. Let’s get to it!
Overall the VTM conference was a great way to spend a beautiful New England weekend with comrades.