One of the cooler startups announced at this year’s Mobile World Conference was a little Dutch creation called Zcapes.
Brought to you by a trio of mobile service architects, the new microblogging platform attempts to “augment reality” by accomplishing a specific set of goals: answering what is arguably the most popular question on the Web in a new and different way, filling gaps commonly left by search engines, and by becoming a viable mobile solution for real-time activity.
A Big Agenda
Like Twitter has unintentionally done, Zcapes hopes to kill several birds (no pun intended) with their one solution. Simply put, a Zcape is a Web page built for an event or object, and is meant to provide relative information on an as-it-happens basis.
The company uses television programs as an example. On a Zcape page for a show like America’s Next Top Model, the idea is that thanks to tagging you’ll find a live stream of relevant content posted by people on popular services like Twitter, Flickr, etc. You also have the option to participate in polls (which model will leave in the next show?) and include RSS feeds.
In their press release, founder Raimo van der Klein elaborates on the benefit of the immediacy Zcapes aim to provide: "There is no mobile search engine where you are able to find good results for 'Shopping in Amsterdam right now', let alone a service that has any inclination of my context. Zcapes fills this gap of context relevant and situational content. Zcapes will contain this information by helping people create it and provide it to others."
Start on Your Desktop, Finish Anywhere
Though it’s a mobile service, to actually build a Zcape page you have to start on your computer. The tool is free and easy to use -- just open the Zcapes builder to pick a name, URL, and to fill it with whichever information filters you’d like to grab. Currently you can include Twitter, Flickr, Messages, RSVP, Membersearch, Mapview, RSS, Poll, Text and Photos. Tag the page accordingly (this is the most important step) then hit “Publish”. Here’s an example of one for our site.
Next, go to m.zcapes.com on your phone, login and follow other people or share your own page. That’s it.
On an additional and very cool note, Zcapes can be shared directly through your Twitter feed OR via a QR code. Just after you publish, a QR barcode for your site is shown. From here you can print the image and stick it anywhere in the real world. People with phones that support QR functionality can scan the code and the browser will take them directly to your Zcape.
Got a Zcape about books? Stick the QR code on a bookstore or better yet, in a book (but don’t tell anyone we suggested defacing property). Or maybe you want to promote a Zcape about your blog? Stick your QR code on various billboards and attract a curious audience.
Or, you can just Rickroll everyone. It’s entirely up to you.
As for future features, Zcapes’ blog states the following additions are in the works:
- Add YouTube box
- Add Wikipedia box
- Add Hotels in neighbourhood box
- Add “followed zcapes and “made zcapes” to user profile
- Add Dopplr box (tricky one as results are personal - we show if your friends are at ‘that’ location)
“It's the question. It's the question that drives us. It's the question that brought you here.”
What are you doing right now? OK wait, finish this article and then you can go get lost in a sea of tweets. Or watch The Matrix.
There are countless services offering ways to answer this question, and regardless of its innovation, Zcape is no exception. The difference between it and services like Twitter however, is that building and utilizing Zcapes is more like asking, What is the thing I'm interested in doing right now, and what is everyone doing with it? By aggregating similarly tagged content, you can create, partake in or simply enjoy what is essentially a lifestream for something inanimate.
Zcape Did *Not* Kill the Search Engine Star
They’ve got a cool and convenient idea going on, but the company is nowhere near overpowering the popularity of search engines -- regardless of how annoying they may be to use on cell phones.
And while we love the clustering of information Zcapes offers, for now all a Zcape is is a really great way to search Twitter and Flickr tags with ease. Perhaps as more Zcapes are made, our opinion will change. Until then, we’ll leave you with a link to keep track of.