Interactions on Instagram–the numbers of likes and comments on photos and videos–have taken a massive hit this year, according to a new study released by research firm Quintly.
Surveying over 13,000 Instagram profiles of varying sizes, Quintly found overall interaction rates have dropped 27 percent since last year for image posts and and 39 percent for video posts. What’s more, Instagram users with large followers (defined as over 1,000 followers) saw the biggest hit.
Interestingly, this plunge occurred largely before Instagram began rolling out its highly controversial algorithm-driven feed in place of its chronological one. Instead, Quintly chalked up the declining engagement to a growing user base and increasing post frequency–there’s simply too much content for people to engage with. They also cited the growth of brand advertising, which may be alienating Instagramers.
Other takeaways from the Quintly research:
Video posts are 15 percent of Instagram timelines in 2016, up from a mere 5 percent last year
While interactions are down, they’re still higher than both Facebook and Twitter
It will be interesting to see what these engagement numbers look like after a few months of Instagram’s algorithmic massaging.
The visual storytelling app Storehouse will be closing down on July 15, 2016.
The app sought to differentiate itself from the legions of photo-sharing apps by focusing on storytelling–allowing users to craft coherent narratives using images, text, video and audio.
In a statement released by company founder and CEO Mark Kawano, Storehouse was “unable to achieve the type of growth necessary to justify the continued operation of the service.”
Users who created stories on the app will be able to download an archived version that includes all the photos, videos, and text as a zip file. The stories themselves will be HTML pages viewable in a web browser.
The roll out of 360-degree imaging started four years ago at the 2012 London Olympics. At this year’s Rio Games, every Getty photographer will have a 360-degree camera, the company said.
“The technology is still in its infancy – as are the business models addressing how to use it – but we can expect to see VR become a leading tool for visual storytelling. It is anticipated that over 14 million consoles will sell this year alone and we are only on the cusp of what will be a tectonic plate shift in VR” said Dawn Airey, Chief Executive Officer of Getty Images, in a statement announcing the initiative.
Last month, Getty Images said it was supplying hi-res VR content from current events around the world for Google Expeditions. Last year, Getty paired with Oculus Rift to provide 360 imagery available for users of the Oculus platform.
While it’s still early days, the market for VR content, including education, social experiences, movies, gaming and adult entertainment is expected to reach $5.4 billion in revenue, according to Piper Jaffray’s estimates. Google’s Cardboard app has been downloaded over 10 million times and there are over 1.3 million subscribers to YouTube’s 360 channel.
In 1958, legendary physicist Richard Feynman delivered a lecture dubbed “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom“– a talk that anticipated (if not actually initiated) an era of manufacturing on the atomic scale.
Fast forward to 2016 and it appears that camera lenses may have found some room at the bottom.
Several researchers from Havard have demonstrated a new optical technology that uses a metasurface–basically an ultra-thin film–with extremely small (smaller than a wavelength of light) vertical structures on it. According to the researchers, these structures comprise a “metalenses” can focus light, resolve incredibly small features and magnify objects at up to 170x.
Since these metalenses not are made from curved glass, they’re not subject to the same optical distortions that plagued conventional lenses.
Here’s a graphic from Havard of light passing through, and being focused by, these nanoscale pillars.
Credit: Capasso Lab | Havard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science
The lens is quite unlike the curved disks of glass familiar from cameras and binoculars. Instead, it is made of a thin layer of transparent quartz coated in millions of tiny pillars, each just tens of nanometres across and hundreds high. Singly, each pillar interacts strongly with light. Their combined effect is to slice up a light beam and remould it as the rays pass through the array.
“This technology is potentially revolutionary because it works in the visible spectrum, which means it has the capacity to replace lenses in all kinds of devices, from microscopes to cameras, to displays and cell phones,” said Federico Capasso, Robert L. Wallace Professor of Applied Physics and Vinton Hayes Senior Research Fellow in Electrical Engineering at Havard and senior author of the paper in a statement releasing the findings.
If it sounds impossible to build at scale, it isn’t–at least, in theory. Capasso told the BBC these metalenses could be made alongside computer chips. In fact, modern semiconductors have components that are smaller than the sub-wavelength focusing pillars on the metalens.
A view of the horizontal planar structures that help to focus light, sitting atop an ultra-thin metasurface. Credit: Capasso Lab | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science
Given their size (or lack thereof) the most obvious commercial applications of this lens tech are in microscopes, smartphones, contact lenses and other wearables.
“Any good imaging system right now is heavy because the thick lenses have to be stacked on top of each other. No one wants to wear a heavy helmet for a couple of hours,” said Mohammadreza Khorasaninejad, a co-author of the metalens research paper, in a statement. “This technique reduces weight and volume and shrinks lenses thinner than a sheet of paper. Imagine the possibilities for wearable optics, flexible contact lenses or telescopes in space.”
Many photographers carefully curate their Instagram feeds to give visitors a sense of their best work. A new app dubbed Instamuseum lets visitors to your Instagram page see your work in an even more rarified setting: a virtual reality art gallery.
Using Instamuseum, you can type in the user name of any public Instagram account. The app then converts those Instagram images into a 3D rendering of a virtual reality art gallery. Pop on a pair of VR goggles and you can explore a user’s Instagram account as if you were walking the halls of a museum.
The app supports several layout options and can only show up to 90 images at once, depending on your layout selection.
The galleries are viewable using Google Cardboard headsets or the HTC Vibe today with Samsung Galaxy Gear and Oculus support coming soon.
If you don’t have a headset, or don’t want to strap one to your head, you can still render the galleries in a web browser. See below.
Photography, like many other disciplines, has a loose set of rules that are very often strategically broken by artists and practitioners–to prove a point or to simply experiment. Thumbing one’s nose at the rules of composition, in particular, is a time-honored tradition.
Photographer James Allen Stewart has his own spin on compositional rule-breaking and has put together this video explaining his approach.
Medium format cameras are widely used in commercial photography but they also have a thriving (if less well-publicized) life in museums, where they’re used to create high quality digital files of precious artwork. Those cameras, and the photographers who operate them, have some new competition from Google’s Art Camera.
This custom built, robotic camera creates gigapixel images from artwork. The robotic system steers the camera automatically from detail to detail, snapping hundreds of high resolution stills of the painting. A laser and sonar system ensure that the camera is always in focus while Google’s software ingests the stills and stitches them all together.
The results are on display in Google’s online Cultural Institute, where a user can zoom in up close on artwork without having to travel to a real museum (welcome to the future).
Google is now dispatching 20 of these Art Cameras to museums around the world. And, they’re free. Museums will be able to create incredibly detailed, gigapixels images with a robot/laser/sonar camera–for free.
It’s not clear if these cameras require Google personnel (photographers?) to operate (we’ve asked Google).
Change is the only constant at Instagram. The social network revealed today a brand new design that aims to put the focus more squarely on its users’ content. Oh, and there’s a new logo too.
“We stripped the color and noise from surfaces where people’s content should take center stage, and boosted color on other surfaces like sign up flows and home screens,” wrote Ian Spalter, Instagram’s head of design.
Spalter added that, “By paring down the new interactions and using standard iOS and Android components, fonts, and patterns, people will be navigating familiar terrain. We also redesigned our icons in a way that feels at home on Android and iOS.”
The redesign is available now for both Android and iOS platforms. Check it out, and let us know what you think of the new look.
Today it’s video. Specifically, Instagram is updating the Explore tab in its app to promote videos. After you update the app, you’ll find a personalized “Videos You Might Like” channel that curates videos from across Instagram into a single location.
The Explore tab will also now have “Featured” channels with content grouped by specific topics. When you click on a video channel it will autoplay all the videos without looping, so you can binge watch one after the other without ever having to tire out your finger with excessive swiping.
Instagram’s Explore tab works a bit like Pandora, the Internet radio station. You “train” Explore by expressing preferences for the content being displayed and it’s a chance to be exposed to Instagram content even if you don’t follow the creator.