I just came back from the CNET Japan Innovation Conference 2009 [JP] in Tokyo, where Cerevo, currently one of the most ambitious tech start-ups in Japan, showed its self-developed digital camera aimed at heavy social media users for the first time.
The company has just seven employees (two of them are part-timers) but big plans: Cerevo intends to dramatically simplify the process of uploading and sharing pictures online by providing both an extra-easy to use camera (the “CerevoCam”) and a photo sharing site (“CerevoLife”) specifically geared towards owners of that camera. And the company wants to bring its idea in front of a global audience.
Combination of Wi-Fi/3G-enabled camera with photo sharing service
Users first need to get the digital camera that Cerevo designed completely from scratch. The device features a 9MP CMOS sensor, Wi-Fi 802.11n (b/g/n), 3G HSUPA support, a USB port, a MicroSD card slot and a 2.4-inch LCD.
The noteworthy point about the CerevoCam is the network function. It’s able to upload pictures to CerevoLife, a photo management and sharing service optimized for play with the camera. Photos are being transferred automatically (via Wi-Fi), which means you can shoot pictures late at night and find them on CerevoLife the next morning without having to take the camera out of the bag. The site offers 5GB of free storage space for every user, which is enough for around 4,000 pictures.
Cerevo notifies you of picture uploads via email and allows you to share pictures from your email client (or CerevoLife) on Flickr, Twitter, Picasa and other services. You’ll get a warning via email when the battery is about to die, too.
If you plug a 3G modem into the camera’s USB port, you can upload pictures directly from the device to various sites in real-time. (With Wi-Fi, pictures take a few seconds to pop up on CerevoLife.)
Launch by year-end in a crowded market
It’s amazing what Cerevo CEO Takuma Iwasa and his tiny team have accomplished so far, but the start-up is facing serious competition, especially when the CerevoCam will actually sell. The network functions could be easily integrated into future cameras by the big makers. Not to speak of the many smartphones out there, which are already being used to flood sites like Flickr and YouTube with pictures and videos (even though Cerevo scores with the convenience factor). And there is no shortage of decent photo management sites either.
Cerevo plans to launch both the CerevoCam (for about $210, in black and white versions) and the corresponding photo site by the end of this year. Iwasa told me this could happen in Japan in late October/early November when things go well, with international markets following soon after (CerevoLife will get a fully translated interface, while the camera features Japanese and English menus).
The company has so far raised $1.3 million in series A from Tokyo-based VC firm enova [JP].
You can read more about the CNET Japan event (in English) here.