A new startup called Happaning wants to make video a more immersive experience by allowing people to watch the same event from multiple perspectives. Or, as co-founder and CEO Andrew Eniwumide likes to say, it’s “Google Street View, but with video.” The company believes its unique technology offering these multi-vantage-point videos could ultimately do more than just introduce a new user experience for video — it could solve other issues with misinformation or deep fakes, for example, as there would be other, verified perspectives of the same scene that could be used to fact check any attempts at misleading others through video edits.
Some of its loftier goals in this area are further down the line, however.
Launching today at TechCrunch Disrupt 2021 as the “wild card” in the Startup Battlefield, Happaning’s early beta version will first introduce its concept of multi-vintage videos, or what it’s trademarked as “ViiVid” technology. This is a system where users create video content using its mobile app that is then combined alongside videos filmed at that same location at the same time.
While the system is not using blockchain technology to verify the videos in any way, there are some similarities with that concept. Happaning borrows from the blockchain’s idea of a decentralized network where many sources are contributing to something like a master ledger. But in Happaning, no single node has all the same information as another — that is, one person’s video is unlike anyone else’s. Together, however, they display a fuller truth about what took place at a given place and time.
The company has patented some concepts related to its technologies involving synchronizing multiple video streams and the user experience of swiping through different video perspectives, locally in the U.K., where the team is based, and with the World Intellectual Property Organization.
The initial use cases for such technology would be recording real-world events like weddings, concerts, sports events, protests or marches, or any others where a larger crowd of people would attend. Once recorded in Happaning, you can then swipe from one video to the next to see the same event from other angles and perspectives by tapping on markers inside the video. Imagine, for example, being able to swipe from a video filmed in the back of the concert looking down on the stage to a video in the front row.
Eniwumide says he came up with the idea for Happaning to solve the issues around how video is being abused to mislead people. He notes that the issue is widespread across social media, pointing to a report that indicates Facebook posts from misinformation sources were getting six times more engagement than those from reputable news sites.
“As time has moved on, storytelling media has become more and more sophisticated to the point where now we’ve got 360-degree videos. But we’re also seeing with videos, is the fact that they’re subject to abuse, they’re subject to careless editing, they’re subject to bias and even deep fakes,” Eniwumide says. He imagined that an app that could verify video content hadn’t been altered and was really taking place where it claimed to be, could be useful.
“We like to think of it like Google Street View, but with video,” Eniwumide continues. “So you could be recording a video and somebody else is recording in the local area, and we synchronize those video feeds by time, location, and audio and visual cues.”
Then someone watching could swipe in the direction they want to move in, similar to how Google Street View lets you move in different directions to see things from other angles and vantage points.
At launch, the focus is on livestreamed videos, but further down the road, the startup wants to develop its IP into more of a technology standard and offer ways for the videos to be exported and published elsewhere. The debut version of Happaning is very much an MVP and technology demo — the overall user interface and experience doesn’t look or feel fully developed at this point. But the app is free to use, with longer-term plans for subscription tiers, presuming it gains traction.
Eniwumide’s background includes over 12 years of experience as both a software developer and principal consultant at U.K. engineering firms including Detica and BAE Systems. He’s joined by CFO Leslie Sagay, CMO Joanna Steele, CTO Colin Agbabiaka and AJ Adesanya, who works on infrastructure. Most of the team, however, is not full time with the startup at this point.
Happaning has raised a total of £219,500 in pre-seed funding at a £3 million pre-money valuation and is aiming to raise a £500,000 seed at a £4.5 million pre-money valuation.