Social media often disconnects people from the real world, keeping them inside scrolling through the feeds on their phones. A new social app called Voiijer (pronounced “Voyager”) aims to do the opposite, connecting nature lovers to the wonders of the world where they can build communities, share their adventures, document their discoveries, and collaborate with others on expeditions.
Voiijer resembles something between a nature-focused Instagram and a timeline-based social app like Twitter/X. Voiijer allows users to browse the site’s homepage and discover content shared by others who have documented their journeys into the natural world.
Scrolling through someone’s feed, one can come across content such as photos, videos, audio, text notes, and even 3D scans for augmented reality (AR) viewing. Each observation may contain additional data.
For example, posts such as “Can technology help discover dinosaurs?” which includes photos and videos of fossil discoveries; “Why is Iceland one of the best analogs to Mars?” which includes text explanations and multimedia documenting an Icelandic expedition; and “Can we find blue vipers in Komodo?” where the user explores Komodo National Park in Indonesia in search of blue-colored snakes.
Voiijer, which launched this summer as a public beta, was invented by CEO Michael Bart, a member of professional explorers’ society The Explorers Club and a Fellow of the UK’s Royal Geographical Society. The idea came to him during an expedition to the Gobi Desert, where his team was able to make groundbreaking discoveries thanks to significant funding and state-of-the-art technology, but was struggling to share their findings with a wider audience.
It occurred to Bart that smartphones could be a useful tool for creating communities where users could tell stories and share their data more effectively. To bring the app to market, the startup raised about $1 million in angel funding from friends and family.
In addition to Bart, Voiijer’s co-founders are CPO Michelle Exell, whose experience includes multi-platform interactive projects using augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and spatial technologies; and CMO Greg McConnell, formerly of WPP and J. Walter Thompson, where he developed brand strategies and built successful lifestyle partnerships.
Like other social apps, Voiijer allows you to view content created by other users or share your own. The search feature allows you to find specific topics, observations, projects, and other people on the app who share your interests.
You can also invite other users to collaborate on projects (called Voiijs), plan expeditions with your team and upload data, content and files, documenting your travels and fieldwork both in real time and at the end of the expedition. According to the company, this ability to share their discoveries will help others learn more and in greater depth than just a post or short video.
“Our combination of technologies is unique,” McConnell told TechCrunch. “Fieldwork is inherently multimedia, and expedition stories need to be told in new ways. We’ve brought together in one app the full power of an explorer’s toolkit: GPS, cameras, laptop, microphones, and sampling bags – powerful data collection tools to create compelling stories,” he continued.
“In addition to photos and videos, Voiijer supports audio recordings, short and long notes, and scans that come to life with Apple’s AR Quick Look. No other app supports this range of media, as well as collaboration and story creation features,” McConnell added.
The startup, based in New York and Hong Kong, plans to eventually monetize the app through advertising and subscriptions to additional services. However, the app is currently ad-free as it is only a public beta version.
The test version has been tried by about 100 users, including Kenton Kool, an experienced mountaineer with 17 Everest climbs under his belt. On Sept. 30, the iOS app will launch “officially” and will be open to more early adopters, with a goal of reaching 10,000 people within three months.
“We’re excited to invite people into the Voiijer community at this crucial stage,” said Exell. “Their feedback will be critical to improving our platform and ensuring that we are delivering an experience that really resonates with our audience,” she said.
Voiijer is currently available as a free download on the App Store. Even if you’re not an explorer yourself, you can browse the app’s content to learn more about the world and field research conducted by the app’s users.
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