Familiar Turns Your Screensaver Into A Social Picture Frame

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Familiar, the artist formerly known as Picadee, launches in beta today. Familiar has an incredibly simple yet compelling value proposition, namely that billions of screens worth of untapped real estate are worth taking advantage of …

Familiar is basically a socially programmed screensaver (yes, screensaver) which allows you to share and display photos with contacts you select through Facebook and via email. In the beta version, all photos you upload to Familiar will turn into a collective screensaver for the people you’ve connected with, combining with photos that other users have shared in Familiar’s ‘The Shuffle’ function.

To share photos, you can either drag and drop selected images into Familar’s downloadble desktop app or use the web interface to sync from Facebook Albums (via Facebook Connect), Flickr and Picasa. Familiar co-founder Marcus Womack tells me that they plan on supporting mobile services like Instagram and possibly others.

“The [photosharing] fragmentation is great for us – people receive photos from their friends in email, on Facebook, or via links to a dozen different websites,” says Womack, “With Familiar, we make it simple: your family and closest friends send photos directly to each others’ screen, even if everybody is using a totally different app to take, manage, or share photos.”

After Familiar users have built up a palatable collection of photos, they can go to Familiar ‘Preferences’ and decide whether to use ‘The Shuffle’ as their screensaver and/or ‘Photos I Love’ (which they can designate by clicking the ‘<3′ button on each photo) as their desktop background. They can also adjust the volume on various friends by using a Less/More slider.

Womack explains that his vision for Familiar extends way beyond photos, but that the company wanted to launch their pared-down beta in time for the holiday season, which is typically a photosharing extravaganza.

In addition to granular contact sharing options, Womack eventually wants to develop a version of Familiar for all screens including iOS and Android. He also wants users to be able to share updates and other content like local news, stocks, sports and weather via their screensavers. Womack hopes that people will think of Familiar on the mobile phone as a mobile photo wallet and Familiar on the iPad as a mobile photo magazine,”Your usecase will depend on the device.”

Familiar is an interesting endeavor as no one has done anything ambitious with the screensaver since Pointcast in the dotcom era. There are infinitely more screens and infinitely more people who want to share in today’s startup environment; “Every time we see a digital screen we think it’s an opportunity to make you more informed and connect you to world around you,” Womack says.