Garage project Trove rolls out a sleeker, simpler UI, fewer fees, and increased transparency

Since its launch in May of 2020, Trove has helped projects collect more than 25,000 photos for character recognition, object recognition, and visual search. Trove, a Microsoft Garage project, connects AI developers to unbiased, quality niche data. The marketplace empowers engineers to purchase submissions that meet their standards at costs they control, while respecting the rights and privacy of photo submitters. Today, we’re excited to announce fewer fees for developers, additional transparency and control for those providing photos, and a sleeker, simpler UI for all. Trove is available for use via Android or web app.

A revamped interface and features by popular request

The team who developed the Garage project cares deeply about user satisfaction, so when feedback showed room for improvement in the developer and photo taker user interfaces, they worked to close that gap.

Developers using Trove to gather photos reported that they were paying too many transaction fees and facing too much difficulty in toggling among photo submissions. So Trove added features to smooth out these bumps and enhance the tool: A way to combine transactions to reduce fees, a revamped photo selection process, a new zoom feature, and one-step downloading.

Photo takers wanted more control over their submissions, and more transparency into submission status. The new contributor interface offers a simpler interface, greater visibility and control, and easier payment tracking.

The team’s transparent approach to collecting high-quality photos is not yet the norm in the world of data collection. Information is still often scraped without consent, resulting in privacy issues and lower quality results. With this latest update, we are making it easier than ever for developers to collect better data in safer and more ethical ways, and for contributors to take control of their data.

What’s new for developers

Fewer transaction fees
You can now purchase all photos you desire from a submitter in one transaction, rather than purchasing photos as they trickle in from that person. So instead of paying a transaction fee on eight photos from a user, then paying it again when they submit another batch of photos later in the week, you can purchase both sets at once and halve the transaction fees you would otherwise pay.

Easier photo triage
Developers can now view all photos submitted for a project together in one place, rather than having to open each batch separately as a user submits them. They can accept or reject up to 100 photos at once. When new photos come in, you will receive a notification and the photos will automatically show up in your feed, so you won’t have to refresh to see what’s new.

We’ve also made it easier to reject photos. Instead of having to type out a reason for rejection, developers can select a reason from a provided menu and notify submitters just by clicking. This faster, simpler feedback makes it easier for submitters to send photos that meet your criteria the next time.

New zoom-in feature
Previously, to see photos in greater detail, developers would have to open them separately to make them bigger. Now you can stay within the larger pool of photos, and just zoom in to enlarge individual submissions in high fidelity.

One-step downloading
Instead of downloading separate batches of photos from different submitters, Trove will now let you download all photos you have purchased for your project at once in a single zip file.

What’s new for photo takers

Simpler interface
Trove photo takers can now see what photos they have submitted to each project, organized into categories of pending, approved, and rejected. We made this change in direct response to user feedback. As one Trover in the Reddit community shared, “It would be nice to be able to see the photos I’ve submitted. I don’t want to submit any duplicates by accident.” Now, you can.

More transparency and control
When photos are rejected, Trovers will be able to see whether the photo met project requirements. Greater transparency around photo rejections was a specific request from users.
Trovers will also soon be able to retract photos that are pending by tapping on the photo and clicking the “trash” button. So if you send a photo by mistake, or just change your mind, you can remove it from consideration. If an engineer has already accepted and paid you for your photo, you will need to contact them to request it back and return what they paid you. It usually takes a day or so for engineers to approve photos.

Easier payment tracking
At the top of the “My Projects” screen, photo takers will see the total money they have received for photo submissions so far. That way you can see the cumulative earnings from your efforts.

Responding to the early adopter community

Trove is a reflection of a growing user community. The team is grateful for the highly developers using the Trove service who are always and ready to offer feedback on how we can continue to better serve their needs. They are also pleased to boast an ever-expanding user base.

The dominant ways AI developers are able to acquire data are far from ideal. In many cases, they are stuck scraping what’s out there, hiring someone at high cost to create the data, or having to go out and generate the data on their own time. These approaches are time-consuming, expensive, and — in the case of scraping — can be risky.

On the data contributor side, users report that common data acquisition practices feel like a violation of privacy. People have lost trust in tech companies that have previously sold their data without their consent. As a result, consumers are opting out of sharing data when asked. Through transparency, respect for privacy, and fair compensation, Trove gives them a reason to opt in.

Try it out and share your feedback

Trove is available for download via the Google Play Store or as a web app experience for users in the United States.

The latest changes to the developer and contributor user interface are just the start. The Trove team looks forward to continuing to respond to the needs of the Trove community, and continuing to  build a better, safer, fairer, and more private pipeline of data, from the people who create it to the developers who use it to build new tools and technology.

Want to help Trove improve? Join the Trover community on Reddit, where you talk to other Trovers and offer feedback. Trover suggestions on Reddit have already played a role in improving the marketplace. The team would love to hear your thoughts.