RIP Seene (what it was, and how to backup your data)

Screenshot of picture viewer
Seene is shutting down

Almost three years after its inception, the beloved 3d photo app, Seene is coming to a close. Built around Obvious Engineering’s world-class computer vision technologies, Seene has never been far from groundbreaking.

Seene launched in the Appstore in 2013, and despite having millions of downloads and getting rated as one of best apps of the year by TechCrunch, it will be shut down by late August of this year after seemingly getting acquired by Snapchat. Nonetheless, you still have a chance to backup and export your data as long as you act before August 25. Even though they are shutting down, you can still explore the gallery online, or on your phone right now. The app has been removed from the Appstore and the Android app is still up on the Play Store but, it is going to be removed soon.

If you’re not familiar with Seene, it is an app that lets you easily take sharable, lifelike 3d photos, or “scenes” (2.5d – 3d photo with depth data) that “combine image, depth, and movement“. Once created, you could share your scenes on the service itself a la Instagram, or on other mediums as a video, gif or JPEG. Just like Instagram, you could take photos, apply filters to them, share them, comment on them, and like them. However, unlike Instagram, you can take advantage of the 3d depth data to look around inside the photo, see the depth data (wireframe), apply accurate depth blur, and explore the Seene in VR (think Google Cardboard or HTC Vive). The app worked on iOS, and android, as well as on the web (view only). The iOS version had multiple capture modes (full 3d object, 3d face, better 2.5d image capture) while the Android version only had one (2.5d image capture) and the web version only lets you view pictures shared publicly.

Seene Labs also has a number of other impressive machine vision technologies (that don’t require any special sensors) including 3D Face Capture3D Scene Reconstruction2.5D Scene Reconstruction, Computational PhotographySLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) and Object Tracking, and Augmented Reality.

We enable these devices to locate themselves in space, map visual environments, and recreate in 3D what is seen through the camera, turning a standard smartphone into a 3D scanner without the use of additional hardware or off-device processing.

They also are responsible for a popular Open Source Google Cardboard SDK for iOS.

Recently, on July 25, Seene sent out the following email:

After delighting millions of people with new ways to accurately capture, share and re-experience life in 3D and VR, we are working on an exciting new project.
Our computer vision technology is no longer available for licensing and, beginning today and continuing over the next few weeks, the Seene iOS and Android apps will be transitioned offline.

And the following tweet:
Excited about what’s next! Working on a new project to invent the future on an even greater scale. Thanks to all!!!


While the service is still online, and fully functioning right now, I wouldn’t expect that to last until the end of August or maybe very early September (at best). I reached out to Seene by email for further comment on their timeline. Here is their official response in regards to that:

The Seene app is no longer available to download for iOS and will be unavailable on Google Play shortly. The app will be transitioned fully offline in the coming weeks so everyone should export their data by 25 August.
In response to request for further comment, Seene responded:
We don’t have any comment, other than to say that we really enjoyed making the app and are grateful to our users for embracing 3D photography and showing what’s possible in this evolved medium – we think user-generated 3D content has a bright future.
You’ll still be able to download a mirror of the apk once it is taken down by by scanning this QR Code with your phone.

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