Making Messages Cuter with Zoobe’s New iOS App

By Conor Rushby |

There is something a bit strange about hearing your words coming out of the mouth of a cute cartoon rabbit – but now you can make it happen while on the move with Thursday’s launch of the new Zoobe iOS app. Previously only available on Facebook, Zoobe gives you a different way of sending messages – you can see what we mean with this sample.

Users record themselves talking and the words are then transformed into a Zoobe message by choosing one of three avatars, their mood and the voice pitch, which is an alteration of the user’s own. Launched last summer, the emotions happy, sorry, and cute are currently available, with more avatars and moods on the way.

Lenard F. Krawinkel is the CEO of Berlin-based Zoobe, and his background is almost as colourful as his character. He has lots of experience in the film industry through his animation company Ambient Entertainment, which worked on Back to Gaya, and Animals United. He has also worked with star names such as Patrick Stewart, Stephen Fry and Jim Broadbent.

The current characters are the good-natured bear, the charming cat and the sweet rabbit, but Lenard was quick to deny the app is just for children. “Like with every startup you have to start,” Lenard told Silicon Allee. “We started with these cute characters due to family entertainment, and our target audience in the beginning was more female orientated. It’s kind of cute, between 16 and 29, women who want to express themselves in a cute way.”

Zoobe is now in talks with a German theme park to animate their mascots as ambassadors for an iPhone app. Meanwhile, the team have just got back from LA, where they have been talking with unnamed film studios to get the rights to branded characters. Use of these characters would incur a charge, as would the new emotions Zoobe are planning to add to the app.

But it’s more than just about the novelty of having a character use your voice, Lenard added: “It’s about a new form of communication – we are providing a platform for any character in the world, to make them speak and emotionally moving. With the big shift in text to video, from reality to digital, and a big shift in where we are socially, I don’t want to be in a second life where you have a constructed world around you. I want to make an animated ambassador for users’ own messages. Whether you want to be a monster or an angel, it’s all about self-expression.”

Underpinning Zoobe is the belief that “video will be the main form of communication in the future” and the company has made significant progress in its technology since it launched on Facebook.

An iPhone app video takes three seconds to make, following the recording of the user’s voice, compared to the 30 seconds it used to need. Moreover, the ability to put characters in front of your own pictures personalises the platform as opposed to the Facebook version which offers stock backgrounds. With these advancements, Lenard said Zoobe makes emoticons look like the stone age.

The company has attracted a number of angel investors including JMES, the force behind the Factory, and is close to finalising a new six digit round of funding with an undisclosed bank.

Perhaps now Zoobe will give new meaning to the phrase ‘rabbiting on’…