The big guys are duking it out again, and this time video chat is front and center. In the past few days Google unveiled Google+ with video “Hangouts”, Microsoft-owned Skype released the SkypeKit SDK and there is speculation that Facebook may announce next week it is bringing video chat to the social network.
There’s one thing missing in all of this. The web.
Google+ is surely a nice piece of work and Hangouts is great – and we love anything that makes video conversations more common – but these ‘new’ innovations are actually not new at all, they are alternatives to what we already have, just in a new location. They do nothing to help bring video chat to the web outside of the Hangout.
Several factors deeply impact the experience one has in a group or one-one video chat conversation. There exists a vast body of literature analyzing the various human factors impacting interpersonal communication, via a computer, such as affinity, commitment and attention. Human-Computer interaction experts, social scientists and computer researchers have studied the various dimensions which make the subjective experience of people participating in a conversation compelling.
Audio quality is one such critical component.
We’re very excited to welcome Bibbil, the newest app leveraging OpenTok, to the TokBox family. Bibbil enables users to connect face-to-face with friends directly in Facebook; there aren’t any required downloads, installations or programs running outside of the browser. With two simple clicks within Facebook, users are video chatting with selected friends.
HackLolla, a developer contest put on by the Lollapalooza organizers, is looking for the coolest app that helps music fans get the most out of the Lollapalooza experience.
Voting has officially begun and we need your support! You can vote for our app, LollapalooBox, through July 10th, 2011 by going HERE and clicking the blue “vote” button.
This past weekend Tokbox was at Game Hack Day in NYC and we must say it was more fun than we expected. The organizers had a great set of API presentations which included Foursquare, Twilio, OMGPOP, Aviary, and of course OpenTok. We also had the pleasure of learning more about some pretty cool libraries and hardware to hack with. They really went all out, even procuring Parot AR Drones and Microsoft Kinect devices to entice the participants and spark some creativity.
One thing is for sure: the developer and hacker community cares about sparking positive change. After spending a weekend as a hacker at the Hack for Change event (superbly hosted by Change.org), I saw over a dozen great ideas to hear about problems, find solutions and get people involved in those solutions. I wanted to highlight some of my favorites:
- GoodNeighbor: Help get small tasks done like changing a lightbulb or taking out the trash for an elderly or disabled person in your neighborhood.
- FindMeAPet.org: Save an animal from being put down by subscribing to data on incoming animals from local shelters.
- IGotUGot: Backyard gardening exchange that helps you connect with the community and barter using whatever you grow at home (or have extra laying around).
- PDB: Personal Daily Breifing the way Obama gets on his desk every morning, stay in touch with issues that you care about.
- PicketLine.us: Voice your protest against a corporation and the practices you dislike. Profile the company and what people think about their choices.
- SafeHood: Take your neighborhood watch digital via SMS notifications, simple and anonymous.
- AnonyMouse: Connecting LBGT youth with mentors that can safely and anonymously answer difficult questions for someone who needs a conversation to help them get through a challenge.
- AnonyMissing: Report lost friends without compromising yourself by keeping it anonymous
- ShoppingAdvisor: Using data from GoodGuide to give you an aggregate view of your Amazon shopping history based on impact on the environment, carbon footprint, and other social awareness metrics.
- What’s About My City: Spread the word about problems in your town and vote on those you agree should be fixed.
- GreatDebate: Embed widgets on your own sites to connect with a cause and get decision maker feedback on that cause right away.
- Alerter: Better emergency response is one tap away. Uses your medical profile, your select contacts (incl. Facebook), and your selected messages to get the word out when you need help.
- GoChip.in: Event management for volunteer coordinators
- Corrupt: report acts of corruption around you and hold those people accountable publicly (I worked on this one)
- GovContrib: a bookmarklet that gives you a quick reference on how much certain companies have contributed to certain parties (uses Sunlight API)
- Piece of Mind: An online and offline way for veterans to connect and voice stories through art. Kickstarter donation funded mosaic to be built.
Congratulations to GoodNeighbor (first prize), AnonyMouse (runner up), FindMeAPet (second runner up), Alerter (honorable mention) and all the teams that hacked though the wee hours on their projects. These ideas weren’t about building the next Fortune 500 company and retiring early, they were about making a difference in people’s lives. Seeing people staying up all night for that, truly is admirable.
We’re happy to announce that TokBox won the Demo Table Competition at the 7th Founder Showcase in San Francisco this week. Woo hoo! Our trusty TokBox crew members toiled away for hours (five to be exact) showing off OpenTok. They demo’ed everything from PokerView, to Meet Me Under the Mistletoe and eBuddy. See their smiley faces below.
Thanks to the Founder Showcase audience for helping us bring home the win!