SXSW has been an important event in the Made by Many calendar over the past few years.

We take as many people as possible and we always have a great time - we learn, we swarm, we go to lots of parties and we live together for a week in some big houses in Travis Heights. We also get to spend some quality time with our clients, do some new biz and hang out with lots of people we'd only otherwise know through Twitter and Instagram. 

For the past few years, we've tried to launch something new for SXSW: a homepage takeover and/or a new app. Last year we launched Hollergram for the iPad - an app designed specifically for SX that turns your iPad into a  glowing sign, and that simultaneously tweets your wittiest bon mots into the stream. Gosh, how we all laughed!

This year we are beyond super-excited to announce the birth of Picle. Our most ambitious Made by Many product yet - an iPhone app that uses photos and sound to give users storytelling super-powers.

Here's a little preview...

But first the back-story... 

Back in May last year Alex Harding carried out a little experiment whilst spending a day trip visiting the seaside town of Broadstairs, in England. 


I think it's safe to say that by this stage everyone at Made by Many had fallen madly in love with Instagram. Alex wanted to explore this further, and wrote a blog post called 'What would Instagram sound like?'. In it, he described the experiment he'd carried out to understand how a photographic journey could be evolved. Basically, he took photos throughout the day with the camera on his iPhone, and each time he took a photo he recorded audio using Apple’s voice memo app. Then, using After Effects, he merged the 2 formats together into a video entitled ‘Day Out at the Beach’. The response to the post was pretty good and we decided that we needed to develop the idea. We've turned that idea into Picle, and we want to try out in the wild at SXSW 2012


So, what is Picle? And why should you care?


In a nutshell:


Picle preserves moments that matter to you by capturing an audio clip with a photograph. These moments - or Picles - can then be laced together to make stories and shared with the web.

There's a web service that allows you to post your Picle or story to a website, and to share it in the normal ways, and like it, comment on it etc. The website provides a view of everyone's stream of Picles. 


We've been careful not to over-design Picle at this stage, because we want it to be a living example of the Lean product innovation approach we've been developing here at Made by Many. What we're launching is very much a Minimal Viable Product (or perhaps more correctly, a Minimum Desirable Product). We're approaching SXSW (as ever) as a giant customer development opportunity. All our hypotheses about the app may be wildly misconceived - but we really want to learn and we can't think of a better opportunity.  


We're asking for your help - not just in downloading, using it, and uploading your Picles, but also giving us feedback. We're planning to interview people using the app at SXSW, and we'll be organising a couple of Picle meet-ups: we *think* Picle will work well at events and when we're swarming. And we're planning to update people through this blog about what we're learning. We really want it to be an open conversation - and as such, we have set up a Picle Twitter account (@PicleApp)


There'll be more info about all of that, including a video in which Alex tells the story of Picle himself - from its inception as an experiment through to a live product in the app store. Our aim is to launch the SXSW version early next week. 


I have grabbed a couple of screenshots from the development phase to demonstrate how we have been prototyping, developing and building Picle. 



The first picture on the left shows the initial prototype we put together in Keynote and the accompanying shots show an early design along with a near completed grab.


We're counting the seconds, and look forward to Picling  with you in a Tequila-fueled frenzy!