Although Microsoft has had apps on iOS for a long time now, most of those have revolved around its Office productivity suite and related products. Of late, however, it has dabbled in rather strange new ventures, like the Selfie app, literally its name. Now it has another oddly named app, again for iOS only, called Thinga.me. And like Selfie, which sort of stepped on the toes of oh so many camera and social networking apps, Thinga.me is daring to set foot in a “collection” market dominated primarily by Pinterest.
Of course, Pinterest doesn’t have a monopoly on services that let users collect digital representations of objects, or even digital only objects, into themed groups for showing off and sharing with others. Even Google, with its much maligned Google+, tried something similar, to somewhat no effect. What makes Thinga.me different, however, is its sole focus on capturing physical things and then displaying them as on a rack or table, like what you might do with those physical things in the real world.
So Thinga.me’s content is gathered solely from the iPhone’s camera. You simply take a photo of, say, your
toys collectible figures and then dump them into a collection to share with friends and family. Digitally, of course. Thinga.me’s unique appeal is what happens in between. The app automatically crops out the background of the photo, leaving only the object intact. When placed in a collection with, say, a wooden shelf motif, it has the effect of looking like being placed on a real shelf.
Like Microsoft Garage’s other mobile apps, Thinga.me is really more a showcase of Microsoft’s technologies and research rather than a direct attempt to feel a need in the mobile market. In this case, it’s Microsoft’s imaging technologies at work, detecting and separating the object from its background. Of course, it’s not perfect, and you’ll need to keep in mind a few things when taking a photo of your subject, like using a contrasting background or keeping the subject within the frame. When all else fails, you can make manual tweaks as desired.
While Thinga.me is available for free, it’s still an invite-only club. No word yet if and when Microsoft Garage plans to make it widely available.