WordsEye is a social platform that increases engagement and has real potential for boosting viral content

Creating viral content for social is a growing trend, but it’s hard to produce content you can guarantee will spread on Twitter and Facebook, especially when you have time constraints.

To help with this very real problem, New York-based startup WordsEye has developed an application that allows you to produce 3D images by describing them in natural language. Instead of just re-sharing a scene, you can modify it by just changing a few words or the camera angle and then re-share. This drives engagement because people can actually do something with the content they see in their feed.

Daniel Bauer, co-founder of WordsEye said the company has, “made ‘typing a picture’ almost as easy as sending a text message. This is really a new medium for communication and expression with visual imagery.”

He explained, “WordsEye scenes are very malleable and can be viewed from any angle, and modified by changing a few words – unlike other visual services like Instagram, Snapchat, or Bitstrips, who apply canned filters and templates to “static” imagery. WordsEye will turn curators, people who mainly collect and re-share pictures only, into creators.”

Co-founder Bob Coyne had worked on commercial 3D authoring software for years when he first came up with the idea for WordsEye. He realized that 3D graphics promised the ability to visualize almost anything you can imagine, but that existing authoring tools were just too difficult to use.

Being able to use natural language to describe a visual scene would break down this barrier and unlock this potential to a larger audience.

After working on the idea for a while, together with Gary Zamchick, Larry Stead, and Computational Linguist Richard Sproat, Coyne decided to return to Columbia for a PhD in Natural Language Processing.
At Columbia, Coyne continued to work on text-to-scene generation, funded by a multi-year NFS grant on the topic, together with his advisor Julia Hirschberg, Research Scientist Owen Rambow, and Daniel Bauer, another PhD candidate.

In early 2013 Coyne, Bauer, and Zamchick participated in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program at the Columbia Business School (IE@Columbia). A business plan was developed and WordsEye Inc was formed. The team participated in a number of venture competitions and pitch events, winning the grand prize at the 2013 New York State Business Plan Competition.

Bauer said, “We have since worked on developing the system into a finished product, creating social media features, enabling better graphics output, making the system scalable and moving it to the cloud.

“We have licensed technology developed at Columbia. We have raised some seed funding to support the company through most of the year. We will start opening the site in beta mode to a limited number or pre-registered users this month.”

The team is about to grow, adding expertise in mobile and game development.

WordsEye also has contractors working with them on 3D graphics engineering and design, and is going to add a mobile development intern, a Columbia MS student to its team shortly.

Now, the company has taken the next step by joining Columbia’s Startup Labs in New York, where it will join 63 other Columbia alums and their business partners in a co-working space provided by WeWork.

Bauer says joining the program is an extension of the environment he and his partners experienced while studying at Columbia.

Bauer commented, “Columbia has been an incredibly nurturing environment for us, providing academic background, a work environment, business skills, and a network. Contacts to most of our seed investors have been established through mentors and events at Columbia.

“The entrepreneurial environment at Columbia has really grown into an eco-system in the last year or so. We hope to stay connected to this environment by working at CSL. At the same time we knew we had to move off campus to grow as a company.”

The main benefit of joining the program Bauer explains is having joint office space to make working as a team much easier for the company.

“So far we often had to communicate by email or phone, which sometimes slowed things down. Conference room access is important to us, so we can organize team and board meetings,” he says.

Like many of the companies joining the scheme, WordsEye hopes that CSL will be more than a co-working space, offering mentorship and events.

“Co-working spaces do not only offer affordable work space, they also provide a community that offers experience, expertise, rapid feedback, and contacts,” he says. Those involved in the program need to make use of the network to get the most out of it.

Bauer thinks New York already offers one of the best environments for startups in the country and world-wide, predicting that, “technology transfer will become more important and immediate, so we will see an increasing number of research IP and technology based ventures building more innovative new products.”

We couldn’t agree more.