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SF startup debuts crowd-sourced video app

Hungry for an Ike’s Place sandwich but don’t want to brave a frustratingly long line? Ready to start your commute but want to first check how congested the 101 freeway on-ramp at Market is?

San Francisco startup Koozoo can help you find out all this and more. Their new app, which launched Thursday, turns your iPhone camera into a live video stream.

The Koozoo website pitches the app as “a massive realtime database of content that allows all of us to make better decisions as we go about our day.”

After downloading the app you’re privy to an entire stream of people letting you know how long the line is for brunch at Outerlands or what you’re missing out on at Dolores Park, all to help you better make life decisions. Obviously.

You can select by location and find video feeds from people closest to you, or check the “home” feed for the most popular videos with the highest number of views or highlight picks from the Koozoo team itself.

You can also watch everything from Koozoo’s website, or share a links to videos on e-mail or Facebook so that even non-app users can watch from a mobile or desktop browser.

And then there’s your own feed. As a basic member, you can share short clips of live video from wherever you are.

But if you want to step your game up a bit, use  that old, decrepit, cracked iPhone that is surely laying around your house to stream a 24/7 almost-live (there’s a few seconds of delay) video of any public space. If you download the app now, Koozoo will send you a free mounting kit so you can suction-cup your phone to a window.

The most popular views captured so far are traffic, weather and lines at businesses. The good news is there’s already a running stream of the line outside the ever-crowded Tartine Bakery.

Koozoo co-founder Drew Sechrist told Wired:

“We’re going to be led by the community, it’s up to them to do with the technology what they want to do. We think that over the course of the next few years we’ll see dense networks of cameras in major metros, and you’ll be able to virtually change your point of view live.”

The app went public Thursday, but so far is only streaming from San Francisco and Austin so Koozoo employees can manage the feeds on their own (Read: Make sure nothing inappropriate, such as porn or illegal activity, gets onto the stream). As the company grows, they plan to have a computer program to take over this role, but vetting videos and maintaining privacy is sure to be an issue.

The Koozoo app is available for free in the App Store starting Thursday and works on the iPhone 3GS, 4, 4S, and 5, and the iPod Touch. And Android users, don’t despair. You can sign up on the Koozoo website to be notified about the release of the Android app.

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