Ponga Blog Post

Photo by Amy Reed on Unsplash
September 7, 2022

What makes Ponga so Different?

Ponga is all about bringing families together using pictures

At Ponga, we’ve always been fascinated by the compelling power of images. They bring us together as families and communities because they document shared experiences and have the power to touch us at an emotional level.

Today pictures flood our feeds on social media and our family group chats. Some of their power to communicate comes from hinting at a shared context, memory, or bond.

At Ponga, we built a way to organize your pictures for you, then give you the tools to tell stories and share them privately with family anywhere.

The basic utilities related to digital photos are well addressed today by some of the largest companies in the world, including Apple and Google. They offer sophisticated cameras and scanners, inexpensive storage capacity and rich editing tools. Incredible social tools like Facebook and WhatsApp have bloomed to connect friends, family, and professionals while mining their photos, connections, and interests for advertising value.

None of these, however, addressed the specific needs of extended families to tell their own stories. Telling a story about your family is a way of discovering a story about yourself. To do that, we took an entirely different approach.

We wanted to build a modern way to use pictures to bring extended families together with stories.

Social media tools compromise privacy and photo storage companies are tiresome for telling stories. Family tree sites support images of individuals but they’re disconnected from personal stories, and they’re inherently public. We wanted to build a service that applies software to the emotional power of pictures to connect families.

Here’s how we do it:

Organizing Photos

Harger Family Picnic, photograph from a family collection. Learn more about this picture in our post about the 12 Kinds of Content You Can Add to Your Picture in Ponga

We use advanced network-based processing like machine learning and AI to examine every photo for faces. We spot individuals as they were captured in your photos from childhood into old age. We automatically sort pictures into by these individuals so that you put names to faces.

As you recognize familiar faces, the albums get reordered and faces are named in every picture. Soon, as you watch the same people appear together in multiple photographs, the context starts to come together for long-forgotten stories.

Telling stories

It’s stories that touch our souls so we made it easy to tell stories in pictures — in whatever way works for you. Now that you know who she was on the wagon trail, you can reach out to grandpa and ask him about why they were there. Just sit with grandpa and ask.

Give him a microphone and record the story right there. It stays with the picture when it’s shared. Soon grandma want’s to tell the story about her family too. Add pictures, documents, and even videos to add color and context to the tale.

Sharing with family

With Ponga, you own your own pictures and every picture is private— unless you share it. When you share pictures, you’re inviting guests to contribute to your pictures. Your guests get free accounts to add as much they’d like to your pictures. You’re not sharing files you are sharing links. That ensures that you’re always in control of the original files. When you share with family you provide the context in an invitation, in the album, or in the picture description. They’re invited as your guests to contribute to your picture and your shared history.

Private pictures are just that, private

Ponga is here for you, not advertisers. You control when your pictures and albums are shared — and with whom. Your personal data and sensitive stories stay in the family. Private pictures are just that — private.

You control who can see your pictures. It’s that simple. You can add all or just some of your aunts and uncles, cousins and in-laws. It’s up to you. Decide you no longer want to share that story with some, no problem, remove them as a guest. The names, like your pictures, and all data related to facial recognition remain private.

You are in control.

Cover image credit: Grabill, John C. H, photographer. Crop from “Freighting in the Black Hills.” Black Hills South Dakota Wyoming. [Between 1887 and 1892] Photograph, loc.gov/item/99613786.

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