Here’s the problem with texting, commenting, and tweeting: Context. You know those celebrities who get themselves in trouble because of an inadvertently offensive tweet, then claim it was misinterpreted? Yeah, they could have really used some context. How someone reads your response to, “Does this make me look fat?” could make all the difference between a harmonious home life and a scene reminiscent of “The Shining.”
Context is everything, and Kent Speakman, an executive for SeeMail knows it. “With voice notes versus text, I am sure we have all sent an email or text to a coworker or someone you are dating, and it’s taken out of context. Being able to add the extra emotion of voice can much more clearly articulate the emotion and feeling you are trying to convey with the message,” said Speakman.
The “voice notes” Speakman is talking about are the foundation of SeeMail, a new mobile application, founded by CEO Ward Chandler, that allows users to record audio over pictures and send them to their friends and family. Voice notes act as a type of recorded commenting system that is the key to adding perspective to any still photo. “Photo sharing has become such an upcoming and exciting area that everyone is doing it in some way or form,” Speakman told me, “and adding the voice note is a much more natural and easy way to tell the stories”
“SeeMail was actually inspired by the old photograph that you would flip over and read the story on the back of the photo”
SeeMail is all about storytelling, and much of the inspiration for the application came from that very concept. “SeeMail was actually inspired by the old photograph that you would flip over and read the story on the back of the photo,” Speakman told me. We can be moved by a sunset at the beach, but adding the comment, “a beautiful sunset,” to any photograph tends to elicit a, “well duh,” response from most people. Speakman is hoping to capture the emotion from every photograph with SeeMail. “You can take a picture of an empty field or something like that and have no context. It could be extremely lonely or the most beautiful picture that you’ve seen. It depends on the emotion that is behind it.”
Although SeeMail could be written off as a standard entertainment application alone, Speakman feels that it has the potential to be much more than that. “You can create very intimate messages, from a new baby being born and sharing that with your family members to real estate agents sharing wonderful properties with their clients. There is just a multitude of different uses, and having that intimacy is important and exciting.” said Speakman.
With plans to reveal tools for members of the military to contact their families while they are away, Speakman hopes it will make a huge impact on how we communicate via social media. “The picture will tell the story but what will really drive that emotion home is hearing them talk about it in their own voice,” Speakman said.
It seems though, that one of the positive aspects behind applications like Instagram and Twitter are their private nature; you can tweet and post pictures quietly at a concert without disrupting anyone around you, for example. With SeeMail relying on voice notes, the private nature of photo sharing seems to be limited. However, as Speakman told me, adding audio sometimes enhances sharing. “We’ve been attending a few different concerts and an Instagram of a rock show is pretty cool,” Speakman told me,“but when you are actually able to add the music on top of that and then share that experience, it’s a much more meaningful and powerful message.”