Play that hashtag: Eye-C crowdsources media curation

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Want to use social networks to find videos you like, but not just watch random footage of cute kittens? Palo Alto, California-based mobile app maker Eye-C thinks it has found a solution for this problem. The company’s Eye-C app, which launched Thursday for Android and iOS, squarely focuses on hash tags as a way to collaboratively compile playlists and discover videos, music and photos.

Eye-C’s app taps into your Facebook friend stream, and also allows to connect with other Eye-C users directly and see what media they’ve been sharing. Users can for example search for hash tag, like #occupywallst, and then play a steady stream of videos about the movement.

Of course, the idea to use hash tags for collaborative playlists works both ways: Users can also simply tag something they’ve found online, share it with other Eye-C users as well as people on Facebook and Twitter, and hopefully inspire other people add to it. “Just tag something with a descriptive term, and it becomes a list,” Eye-C CEO Ari Birger said when I talked to him on the phone a couple of days ago. Users can also filter hash tags by friends or simply browse all the media their Facebook contacts have been sharing.

Birger also shared an interesting backstory about Eye-C: The startup initially whipped up a personal media player application called Eyecon, which can still be downloaded from the Android market. The app put a heavy emphasis on DLNA, making it possible to stream content stored on a local hard drive straight to a TV set with DLNA-support while controlling the playback on your handset. However, the interface simply didn’t have mass market appeal, explained Birger, which is why the company decided to fold the technology into Eye-C.

The result is that Eye-C still supports DLNA playback, which allows users to play those hashtag playlists on a TV screen, provided they own a DLNA-certified TV set or connected device. Think of it as Airplay for hashtags, if you will.

Birger told me that the company eventually wants to bring Eye-C to other platforms as well. “We started with mobile because it creates an easy to carry controller,” he said.

One thing that’s still missing from Eye-C is a closer Twitter integration. Currently, users can share videos with their Twitter followers, but not actually follow hash tags bubbling up. I’ve been told that this will be added to the app by the end of fall. I also had some issues getting the app to sync with Facebook on some of my Android devices, and I sometimes found Eye-C a bit too complex to navigate, with too many options available to browse media, friends lists and so on.

Still, I have to admit that the idea impressed me: Hash tags have become a great way of crowdsourced curation, and tapping into that to program your media playlists is a pretty clever idea, especially around any current events.

Check out a few screenshots of the app below:

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