Pholio is trying to make a personal, private Google Photos

The Verge Technology 11 months ago

A London-based startup has created a device that can back up your photos and videos and make them searchable, marketing it as a rival to Google Photos. Though the service is similar, Pholio keeps your stuff private and off some companies’ servers.

The device has built-in algorithms that can locate specific photos you search for, based on 20,000 built-in descriptions. You can also customize and train the software to use new descriptors, too. Once connected to your computer, Pholio collects all of your digital images and videos and automatically backs them up them on the device, the company says.

Pholio can store a full-resolution copy of your photos, or users have an option for an “optimized format” which creates a smaller version (3–4MB for photos, and 720p for videos), which are kept locally on the device. “With the growing volume of data coming from imaging and connected devices in the home there is a critical need for local processing and control,” said Simon Randall, CEO of Pholio, in a statement. “This will save cloud streaming costs, increase response speeds, and provide choices that don't require handing over control of your data.”

Pholio’s creators trained the software by showing it millions of different images. Though the concept is promising, the company producing the Pholio is a startup with a big dream. Even Google faces hurdles in making tools like this, and in one instance, had to apologize for after its Photo app tagged two black people as gorillas. The device is currently on Kickstarter, so the usual caution applies for crowdfunding projects.

The device comes with 500GB of storage, while a pro version has 2TB of storage. Pholio allows browsing on PC / Mac, tablets, and smartphones, and encrypted backup services are coming soon, the company said. The standard model has a special launch price of £199 (roughly $262), with estimated delivery of March 2018. The standard price is £299 (about $394) with an earlier delivery of January 2018, though the project notes say a number of units will be shipped “in time for Christmas.”

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