RunPixie: A New Lens on Sports Photography


In the ever-evolving sports landscape, technological innovations are constantly shaping new ways to experience and immortalize athletic milestones. One recent entrant to this sphere, attempting to carve a unique niche, is RunPixie. 

An intriguing facet of RunPixie’s model is its emphasis on community participation. RunPixie has instituted mechanisms where participants can potentially earn discounts based on photo uploads by peers or fellow event-goers. Such an approach seems to underscore the collective spirit of sporting events, fostering shared experiences.

In an era where Wikipedia has surpassed its 20-year mark and peer production has thrived for decades, it’s curious that community-driven photography for running race coverage remains largely untapped. Enter RunPixie, pioneering this concept. Undoubtedly, the expertise of co-founder Dr. Dariusz Jemielniak, a seasoned Wikipedia contributor and a trustee of the Wikimedia Foundation Board—second in tenure only to Jimmy Wales— played a pivotal role. However, it was the significant advancements in AI algorithms, championed by the other co-founder Dr. Leon Ciechanowski of MIT’s Center for Collective Intelligence, that truly set the stage for this innovation.


Navigating the Sports Photography Terrain

For many who’ve participated in athletic events, be it marathons, cycling races, or triathlons, capturing the event’s essence in a photograph is a valued tradition. Yet, the current ecosystem often presents hurdles: prohibitive costs, limited shot availability, and prolonged waiting times for photos. RunPixie, with its distinct approach, seeks to address these very challenges.

Diving Deeper: What's RunPixie Offering?

  1. Rethinking Costs: One of the initial observations about the market was the high prices associated with memory photos. In response, RunPixie’s platform offers photo packages that are noticeably more affordable compared to many established photography services and can even be free to runners, whose friends collectively upload enough photos of other runners.
  2. Quicker Turnaround: The post-event wait for photographs has long been a gripe for participants. RunPixie employs contemporary technology that promises faster delivery of event photos – with the aim to make photos available nearly instantaneously.
  3. Broader Spectrum: The age-old problem of limited photographers translating to limited shots is something RunPixie aims to tackle. The platform is designed to offer participants a wider range of photos, capturing diverse moments.
  4. Improved Identification: Harnessing sophisticated face, clothes, and number recognition algorithms, RunPixie strives for accurate photo deliveries, cutting down on potential identification mismatches. A lot of AI secret sauce is difficult to prove, and everyone brags theirs is the best, but RunPixie is able to recognize people in pictures even if their bibs are partially covered, while most of the competition can’t.
  5. Backing the Underdogs: Not every event has deep pockets for professional photography. RunPixie’s flexible model appears to accommodate even the smaller-scale events, ensuring a broader outreach. In fact, it even works for small-scale, amateur events. 
  6. AI-Improved focus: runners want pictures, in which they are in the center of attention. RunPixie adjusts many factors, such as focus, blur, contrast, and composition, so that the person, whose number is in the digital album, goes really to the front. 

As an outsider looking in, RunPixie’s approach seems to signal a shift in the sports photography paradigm, prioritizing participant experience and affordability. While the future trajectory of this venture remains to be seen, its present efforts to democratize sports photography do make it an interesting subject in the broader narrative of sports and technology.

First steps

Although RunPixie launched in the summer of 2022, it already covered races in many countries, including Poland, Slovakia, Italy, as well as the US.