Can Some One Turn Me On?

Here’s our dirty little secret: for the longest time, our little team here at TokBox never used TokBox to talk to each other. There was no need. We all worked together in our Wes Anderson-esque office in SOMA, ate lunch together around our big table, and went for coffee breaks together at Epicenter on Harrison Street.

Then last summer I moved to NYC. I learned quickly that it’s tough to get a team that doesn’t have a remote co-working culture to pick it up right away — not even a team that works on video chat. Desk drive-bys for quick questions became long IM threads. Impromptu meetings with the whiteboard became “oops we forgot to call you” or “dammit, I can’t see the whiteboard” fails. Casual lunch conversation became…nothing.

We got better at this, but the turning point was when Double Robotics loaned us a Double to beta test (Disclosure! TokBox powers the video component for Double). We affectionately named it J9000.

My Double and I are about the same height.

J9000 and I are about the same height.

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Video Chatterbox Nation: Live video communications today & tomorrow

Last month, we did some research to understand what drives video chat use.  Check out the whole report here — highlights below:

  • 44% of respondents have used video chat before, most of which use Skype (82%)
  • 75% would be interested in online medical/therapy services over video, if offered
  • 56% would be likely to take a class with video chat
  • 1 in 10 work remotely as a direct result of being able to video chat with colleagues
  • Women are 2x more interested than men in asking for assistance via video chat while shopping online
  • 47% would video chat with others while watching online TV shows together
  • Only 7% would use it to chat with people they don’t know
Report page
Why do you video chat today, and what do you think is the best use of video chat in future? Tell us on twitter @tokbox.
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Music Hack Day

Tequila sunrise making robot.

We hosted Music Hack Day (our 2nd time!) at our homey little office last weekend.

We had a blast, and looks like most people did too.

Hacker down.

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TriviaTok: OpenTok meets Twilio Client

TriviaTok is a game show app designed and built by TokBox superintern, Ezra Velazquez.

How It Works:

Game is about to begin!

When the host clicks “Next Player”, a user in the audience is randomly selected and goes on screen to video chat with the host.  The rest of the audience gets to watch.  “Next Question” kicks off the game. The player can pick the right (or wrong) answer – or get help:

  • PHONE lets you call a friend (Twilio Client)
  • CROWD lets you tweet for help (Twitter API)
  • 50/50 eliminates two wrong answers (Ezra’s skillz)
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July OpenTok App Round-up

It’s hard to tell when it’s summer in San Francisco, but here at TokBox you know it’s summer when everyone’s a-video chatting. This July, lots of new OpenTok developers decided to dip their toes in the warm, inviting pool of group video chat. (not sure why…) Here are some of our favorite examples:

Group/Social Video Chat
Friend Cameo: Voice, video calling and video mail on Facebook
SocialHangouts:  G+ Hangouts meets FB Video Calling with multi-user video chat
Tanglr.TV:  Group co-viewing of online live events
EpicMafia: Online Mafia game – with video to look ’em in the eyes

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Hoot.Me made DreamIt!

We are thrilled – thrilled! – for our friends at Hoot.Me, who made it into the inaugural batch of NYC startups in DreamIt Venture’s accelerator program. Hoot.Me brings video conferencing (yes, with OpenTok, *blush*) to study groups on Facebook and makes it even better with smart (text) chat and screen sharing in the browser.  (More about why we love them so much here.)

We’re going to be at TechCrunch Disrupt and want to meet more big-dreaming entrepreneurs like Michael and Sid at Hoot.Me.  We hear there are a bunch of you in NYC.  Come find us at our booth to see if OpenTok can be leveraged to fulfill the key value proposition of your application (or hang out and say hi, whichever).

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1st concerts & why we’re excited about Music Hack Day

What was the first concert you went to?

At my last job, we used this ice-breaker often for new hires, offsites, client meetings, etc. etc.  The nice thing about this one is that it gets almost everyone’s guard down – for one, eyes-glazed, big-smile, nostalgia-flecked moment.

Here’s why, I think:  everyone likes music, and sometimes experiencing it  – making, discovering, and consuming it – with other people who like it as much as you do makes it even better.

At TokBox, we’re excited about Music Hack Day because so many of us here who love music and believe in bringing people together across the web can’t wait to see what a small army of hackers with an arsenal of APIs (we humbly offer up ours) might come up with for users to enjoy music together online. (We’re also awestruck by the likes of SoundCloud, Echonest, and SongKick and are pinching ourselves that they let us tag along for the ride.)

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OpenTok App Round-up (Week of 4/25)

Since we shuttered, we’ve seen a flurry of users sussing out OpenTok apps to see what might meet their needs (meet our contest winner: MyMeetingHub).    Not everyone found the right fit – but frustration drives innovation!  We were stoked to see users try out the OpenTok API to build themselves a solution – here are a couple of interesting ones:

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Twilio TokBox Two-fer!

Bummed to have missed Music Hack Day last weekend? No fear! Our friends at Twilio are keeping the music alive with a contest this week.  If you also use the OpenTok API and submit to the Week 2 leg of our Video Conference Contest , you stand to win a Kinect and a chance at our Grand Prize: promotion to the TokBox user base.

Thanks to our friends at Twilio for the shout-out!  If you’re a Twilio developer and are just getting to know OpenTok, drop us a line at when you launch your Twilio-TokBox app and we will send you a T-shirt.

For inspiration, the list of apps launched at Music Hack Day is here.

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Learn from your couch with Learningfy

Last year I tried to teach myself German – and failed. I learned more German watching Project Runway reruns on Lifetime. The problem is: left to my own devices, I don’t have a ton of commitment and cheat a lot. So – while there’s lots to like about the latest OpenTok app, Learningfy, what I like the most about it is that if I sign up for a class (here’s one for German) and some one teaches me over video, I’d be a lot more motivated to make it happen.

Learningfy is an online learning platform for students and teachers to interact face-to-face via webcam classes. By reducing the time and geographic barriers, Learningfy not only solves the “Janine wants to learn German but won’t get off her couch” problem, it also opens up opportunities for students to learn a wide variety of skills from teachers from around the world. Learningfy offers a $5 trial, after which the teachers can create their own classes and set their own rates.

Check out a demo of Learningfy here. We like learning how developers are using OpenTok in educational apps, so if you’re building one, let us know.

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