Wherever you are right now, take a look around: how many people are gazing intently at their smartphone?
The must-have gadget of the 21st Century has revolutionised how we communicate and remain connected with our friends – yet it has also led to an epidemic of social isolation as people become absorbed in the virtual world at the expense of the reality around them.
Start-up Togee Technologies believes its innovative screen-sharing technology can help bridge that gap. “We’re calling it the counter [to social isolation] – it is a social plugin to anything you are doing on your phone,” explains CEO Daniel Diegelmann.
“Instead of consuming alone, sitting along with your screen and scrolling endlessly, we think that it should be possible to share that experience.”
The average person’s mobile consumption is now almost five hours a day, says Diegelmann, which makes ‘screen time’ the most common activity worldwide.
“We definitely don’t want to increase screen time, but to make it more qualitative,” he insists. “We think this is a very efficient way of communication. Hopefully we can even bring down the screen time overall.”
Togee works by hovering a button over the top of any app you are inside, be it YouTube, Facebook, a web browser or a mere calendar. When you wish to show something to a friend you can use this to invite them to share your experience.
Your friends pop up as video feeds at the bottom of the screen and everyone can watch the shared screen, talk about it together and even doodle over the top to highlight items of interest. Think WhatsApp, but with video and audio in real-time.
“If we’re standing next to each other right now, I could bring out my phone and say ‘look at this’. It could be any visual, any content, any application,” says CMO Peter Andersson.
“We want to replicate that moment with the next-best thing to a physical meeting. We can consume this content together and enrich the conversation by adding a visual and interactive layer of communication.”
Available on Android, the video renders in 720p for now but could scale to 4K resolution when 5G technology becomes widely available, says Diegelmann (below).
“The magic within Togee is that we are streaming the screen, your face, your voice and the doodling all at once. It’s the full experience.”
Users can also record experiences and send them to friends. “It feels like it’s something that should be in every pocket and on every smartphone,” adds Diegelmann.
Togee’s tech allows for up to 50 people to share a live session, a feature which it is considering offering to businesses. For now it is limiting its consumer product to four people in a session to ensure a high-quality experience on mobile screens.
The VIP beta version of Togee was released on October 24th on the App Store and Google Play. Based in Stockholm with 20 staff, it has big plans for the UK after a recent trade visit to London Tech Week.
“We were selected as one of Sweden’s top 10 start-ups,” says Andersson. “We pitched at Google and also met potential partners like Manchester City; the telco Three; and MediaCity.
“We are looking at how we can integrate our solution into their media verticals.
“There are also other football clubs and big eCommerce companies in Manchester as well… the UK is definitely a very important market for us.”
Cultivating partnerships and tapping into the influencer market will be key if Togee is to meet a target of a million users by early 2019.
“Imagine going to the website of a fashion brand and together picking the clothes you are planning to wear. You can even record this experience and post it on Instagram,” says Diegelmann.
“Influencers can also create this very personal content where they review material or digital content and post it online.”
Andersson describes the Swedish tech ecosystem as “really great with good interest from international VC venture capital”.
After early angel investment of almost $1 million, Togee is now closing a second seed investment of $1.5m and plans to raise a Series A round next year.
“Fifteen years ago you had Skype – and we believe we will be the next comparable and game-changing solution,” Andersson (above) says.
Diegelmann agrees. “The biggest reason that we have such huge potential is we create so many win-win scenarios on top of other applications and potential collaborations,” he says.
“It only requires one other contact to have value, compared with Facebook and Instagram where you need a lot of people before your content brings much value.
“We believe that Togee will be the next step in daily communication.”