We are visionaries, dreamers, software engineers & cyberpunks, working together to create something wonderful.

For over two decades, we have been dreaming about an incredible new medium. One that has the potential to transcend the most vivid of imaginations; and fundamentally change the way we work, play and interact with our world.
But when we started planning our endeavour, we found that the technologies necessary to bring our visions to life, were not suitable or powerful enough.
So we've been quietly inventing new ones.
We are deep in R&D and busy developing our product, so we're not quite ready to show the world yet.
But when we are.
As we travel along our journey, our computer vision R&D is also helping companies and their customers achieve things they could never do before.

Like visualising paint colours on their walls, live on their mobile device.

Back in 2011, we released a mobile augmented reality SDK. We wanted to empower developers so they too, could explore this emerging medium.

As we built it from the ground up for mobile, it was very fast and used very little memory. So there was more room for creative content.
It made us happy to see people making cool stuff with our technology.
It was also used by some of the most recognisable brands on earth.
And we learned a lot by making cool things for them too.
But we've decided to discontinue our SDK.
Other companies are doing a fine job of that now. And we need to focus…

…on building something wonderful.

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String wins Innovation Of The Year 2015 in Berlin

28th September 2015

String and AkzoNobel have won the prestigious Innovation of the Year prize at the Digital Communication Awards 2015 for their pioneering Visualizer app, besting a strong line-up which includes HSBC, Audi, Nestlé and Barclays Bank. The jury recognized String and Akznobel for their strategic approach, creative conceptualization, effective implementation, efficiency and results, in creating the Visualizer.

The pioneering app appears just as popular with the general public, reaching five million downloads on the same day it won the Innovation of the Year. This includes a tripling of users in Brazil.


Visualizer Shortlisted for GMA 2015 Most Innovative Mobile App

9th March 2015

We're super excited and proud to announce that the AkzoNobel Paint Visualizer app featuring our proprietary Computer Vision technology, was shortlisted in the Most Innovative Mobile App category at the 2015 Global Mobile Awards.


AkzoNobel's Pioneering Visualizer App Wins Major Technology Prize

12th November 2014

The pioneering Visualizer app launched by AkzoNobel's Decorative Paints business earlier this year has won a prestigious honor at the 2014 UK IT Industry Awards.

A world first in augmented reality technology, the free app enables users to see in real time what a room will look like in a wide range of different colors – before any paint is applied to the wall. The innovation beat seven other finalists in the Innovative Mobile App of the Year category.

“Color has the power to change people's lives and we're delighted to have been recognized for an innovation which is designed to give consumers and professionals more confidence and inspiration,” said Corinne Avelines, Global Head of Digital & eCommerce at AkzoNobel Decorative Paints.

“The Visualizer gives people the freedom to experiment and make bolder choices and highlights how we are increasingly embracing digital innovations alongside our product innovations in order to solve problems for consumers and ultimately grow our business.”

Marketed through the company's decorative paints brands (Dulux in the UK, Coral in Brazil and Flexa in the Netherlands, for example) the app was developed after talking to more than 5,000 customers, designers and painters.

The core innovation behind the Visualizer is the Computer Vision technology which enables the user to apply realistic virtual paint to their walls, in real-time, without affecting picture frames and other furniture. Compatible with both Android and iOS devices, it is currently available in 44 countries and will continue to be rolled out over the coming months.

“We're always looking for ways to share our global color expertise and encourage customers to express themselves through the use of color,” added Avelines. “Enabling people to picture rooms before they paint them is not only fun, it's also a great way of combining digital technology with personal design vision.”

To download the app, visit the Apple store or Google Play and search for Visualizer, plus the name of your local AkzoNobel paint brand.

We're Hiring

You've read our story and seen a little of what we've been up to…

We are looking for world class talent to join our rapidly growing team and currently have the following positions open:

Software Engineer - Augmented Reality - C++

As a Software Engineer at String, you will be joining our pioneering, highly creative and ambitious Cambridge team to build the next generation of our award-winning Dulux Augmented Reality Visualizer app, used by millions of people around the world.

As such, you’re not just an engineer. You’ll be an important part of the entire product process from understanding and solving users’ pain points and workshopping new features, through to post-delivery retrospectives.

As String’s culture emphasises mutual personal growth, you must possess the self-awareness and egolessness required to relish kind and constructive feedback, while also being comfortable in reciprocating to your peers for their benefit. You must have deep empathy for your users and peers, so you can understand how you can craft genuinely useful products together.


Responsibilities

  • Collaborate with product managers, designers, computer vision scientists and engineers to conceive and build new app features
  • Acquire and maintain excellent knowledge and insight into contemporary C++
  • Craft delightful user-experiences, while maintaining performance and stability
  • Work with platform engineers to design, build and scale new and existing features
  • Triage and fix bugs
  • Write clean, readable and maintainable code

Requirements

  • Experience writing code using modern C++
  • Strong CS fundamentals: data structures, algorithms and programming languages
  • Experience developing, releasing and maintaining high quality iOS and Android mobile applications with demonstrably strong coding, debugging and analytical skills
  • Experience in building modern UI screen layouts
  • Excellent understanding of best practices for asynchronous communication, concurrency and threading
  • A disciplined approach to development, testing, documentation and code structure in a team environment
  • Self ­awareness, empathy and a desire to improve not only your skills but also your peers’
  • Craftsmanship and attention to detail
  • Deep empathy for your users and peers

A typical week at String will involve

  • Workshopping new features with your peers
  • Learning about new iOS & Android technologies
  • Helping your team triage bugs and troubleshoot production issues
  • Deeply reviewing code to maintain quality
  • Mentoring other engineers

Nice to Have

  • Experience with OpenGL, Objective-C, Swift & Java
  • Experience with Android + iOS UI SDKs
  • Experience of working in small, fast moving teams with an emphasis on autonomy, accountability, ownership
  • Experience with video processing and encoding formats
  • Experience with parallel computing, GPGPU programming and low level performance optimisations on mobile devices (NEON, INTEL SSE)
  • Fluency in 3D and matrix mathematics
  • Strong interest in Mixed and Virtual Reality

We strive to build a work culture where everyone is valued and respected equally. That goes for our hiring process as well. If all of this resonates with you, there’s a good chance that you might be a fit for us and we might be a fit for you. We’d love to hear from you so we can explore that possibility.

Please complete the form below to apply:

Contact

If you're interested in discussing strategic partnerships or how our computer vision R&D may be able to help you and your business please contact us below.


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Dulux logo
Dulux Valentine logo
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Coral logo
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Dulux Thailand logo
Flexa logo
Inca logo
Levis logo
Marshall logo
Nordsjo logo
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Visualizer



The Visualizer app from AkzoNobel, is a free Augmented Reality tool for iOS and Android, which enables consumers to re-colour their walls while viewing the results live on their mobile device, as they move around the room.

Choosing colour for the home can be a stressful experience, and in the UK alone it is estimated that 3m households a year give up on painting projects at a cost of over £200m. By providing a tool to quickly visualise paint colour, in-situ and in real-time, consumers can quickly and confidently choose the right colours for their home, prior to using paint testers.

For AkzoNobel, the app also promises to significantly shorten the sales cycle through e-commerce integration, while strengthening their global brand portfolio, encompassing some of the world's best known paint brands such as Dulux, Flexa, Nordsjö and Coral.

The Visualizer was launched globally throughout June and July 2014, in over 40 markets, in 18+ languages and across 25 brands.

String's fierce drive and passion, and their unwavering confidence that they could invent the necessary core technologies, enabled us to bring this challenging project to reality. We're very proud to lead the industry by providing this ground breaking tool for consumers, and we're excited about our partnership with String moving forwards.

— Stewart Longhurst, AkzoNobel Head of Digital Operations

Development of the Visualizer

In 2013, AkzoNobel partnered with String® on what was initially an R&D project, to explore the possibility of a computer vision based broad wall visualisation application. Computer vision is a discipline within the field of computer science, which focuses on processing and applying visual data from the real world, in a similar way to how our own eyes and brains work.

Handling the diverse range of room environments and lighting conditions which may be encountered, presented a number of technical challenges. In order to overcome these, String® researched and developed proprietary algorithms bespoke to the Visualizer, to analyse and process live video from the device camera.

These algorithms identify broad areas of interest - in this case, walls - and then isolate household objects, such as TVs, picture frames and furniture, to prevent them from being recoloured.

Ambient lighting conditions in the room are measured, so that when the ‘paint' is applied, shadows and subtle variations are retained for more natural looking results. Finally in order for the virtual ‘paint' to remain locked to the wall surface as the user moves around, custom software was written to process positioning and orientation data, from the device's hardware sensors.

Key Technical Requirements

  • CV based solution, rather than relying on time-of-flight or FLIR sensors, due to the current saturation of traditional camera-based devices in the market.
  • Automatically isolate features such as windows, doors, TVs and paintings when applying virtual paint to existing walls.
  • Process and analyse the real-time ambient lighting conditions to ensure natural looking results when re-colouring, retaining surface shadows and subtle variations.
  • Track the environment and user inputs to remember walls that have previously been painted during that session.
  • Provide an immersive experience for the consumer with high frame rates across a broad range of consumer tablet and smartphone devices.
  • Deliver as a cross platform SDK for integration into the broader Visualizer application.

User Experience Design

Due to the amount of screen space required for the Visualizer's camera feed, one of the key design objectives was to keep on-screen clutter to an absolute minimum, to avoid hindering the fluidity of the user's journey, while providing all the tools they need.

Leveraging our commercial experience in interaction design, we built an in-house custom prototyping framework which allowed the team to rapidly design, iterate and test interaction concepts from desktop to mobile, prior to final API development.

Some of the concepts the team explored included accelerometer-based gestures for rapid clearing of paint within a scene, simple touch gestures to refine colours and swipe-able colour palettes, in addition to standard touch events.


While many ideas were discarded in order to reduce user friction, key features such as single tap-to-paint, visual paint anchors (with inertial fade-outs), masking tape, inclusion of the colour swatch on screen grab, and low light notifications, all emerged from this process and were implemented in the release.

Our belief is that technology should work like magic: providing a delightful, easy and useful experience. This ethos remains at the core of all of String's technical and creative endeavours.

Future

The uncompromising vision for the project required String® to break new ground in this field and what you see today represents a first step towards that vision. On-going research and development will bring significant advances to future versions of the product.