Real-time communication enhances our experiences online. The one in particular that makes the biggest impact is of course face-to-face communication.
Why? Well because looking at someone in the face is important. Facial expressions communicate more than half of the story. When you communicate online through asynchronous text or synchronous voice, sometimes the conversation can get lost in translation.
It’s not rocket science – facial expressions are powerful communicators. For years, emoticons were the best we could do. As wespend more and more time online doing what we used to do in person (like shopping, visiting the bank, going movies), we’re leveraging the communication we’re designed for, less frequently.
But that is changing. Now real-world experiences are being re-created online. By real-world, I mean face-to-face. I’m not talking about face-to-face communication in a silo either, I’m talking about f2f experiences that complements the service or website that it’s integrated intoOne size doesn’t fit all and with new video technology, implementations of face-to-face communication are as unique as the company adding it. Today we’re going to take a look at five different verticals where face-to-face can make a difference, from the obvious to non-obvious cases.
Let’s start with the use case we’re all most familiar with – the evolution of the phone calls to video calls. The very nature of video calling points to the importance of face-to-face communication.SkypeOnce distance made face-to-face interactions infrequent or impossible, the phone call was able to humanize relationships. It started with calls to and from home lines which soon evolved to mobile lines. As computers became a standard piece of household technology, voice communication began moving online through VoIP services like Skype. Skype is one of the first companies to successfully introduce video calling into the market. In the past few years, it’s popularity has risen,And now, with FaceTimevideo chat is going mobileall of the sudden find ourselves moved by FaceTime commercials which feature a soldier in Iraq that is able to see his wife’s ultrasound via video chat. Or the Grandmother connecting with her granddaughter. It’s clear why it resonates with most people – by simply adding video, it’s a much more human, and connected experienceWhile Skype and FaceTime are widely used, they exist within a silo. At TokBox we want to break down some of those barriers, and enable this same experience for anyone anywhere without a download. We have a partner who is a great example of incorporating video into their service seamlessly for their users:eBuddyeBuddy is a free web-based messenger service that enables users to aggregate all of their IM accounts in one place responding to demand from users, they added video chat as an option to their web-based interface. Using theOpenTok API, their users can now upgrade a basic text chat to video chat in just one click, within the same application. Instant messaging services have been around for decades – in most cases, it’s likely that both participants in a text conversation are familiar with each other, in which case, upgrading to a video conversation is a natural progression. Since integration, they’ve seen a 17% increase in the time spent on site for those users that have chosen to upgrade their conversation from text to video. Evidence that seeing someone face-to-face is just more engaging.It’s clear why video chat enhances the standard voice call or text conversation, but let’s explore how video is enhancing traditionally in-person events, online.
Real-time communications is revolutionizing the events industry. People attend events, whether it’s a conference or concert, because they want to meet like-minded people.Organizers are starting to understand that while in-person audience is limited to the building’s occupancy maximum, there are nearly an endless number of virtual attendees.One obvious and frequent use of real-time communications technology at events is live Broadcasting or Streaming. Now you’ll be hard-pressed to find anevent that isn’t being streamed through LiveStream, UStream or Justin.tvOrganizers understand that not everyone in their audience can attend, so they keep their virtual audience engaged through live streams of the keynotes, panels and more. But this doesn’t enable a real-time conversation around the content. That’s where the twitter hash-tag comes into play.TwitterAs soon as a conference or event is announced, a primary Twitter hash-tag identifying the event is establishedIndividuals that can’t attend the event in person, are now able to track the event activity through Twitter posts of individuals attending.The virtual audience and the in-person audience can hold a real-time conversationThe most thought-provoking and productive conversations are about content. So why not create an environment that puts the conversation in context? Video Conference EmbedsThis is TokLive, an application we’re building. This isn’t necessarily the only solution, however it’s what a solution could be. Pull in the livestream of the event, pull in the relevant twitter hashtag feed, and allow your virtual audience to interact face-to-face via video chat as if they were there in person. What about the future of events online?We believe that the next wave in the evolution will enable the event headliners/speakers to interact directly with the virtual audience, from stage. Can it be done today? Of course! But not until conferences are able to keep their internet connection live
Most people are well aware of Zygna, the company “connecting the world through games”. Maybe you’re a fan of their games, or maybe you’re just notified when a member of your social network gets a coin on GagaVille, PetVille, FarmVille, CityVille or FronteirVille.In the real-world, social interactions are a dialogue often live, amongst specific networks and always in the context of activities or content. Today, all too often, social interactions are more broadcast than two way, as with Zynga games notifications. Your game updates go out mass to your entire social network, they are asynchronous and almost always siloed from activities or content.But what if there was more live interaction, how would it improve the experience?2) TwitchTV, a new site recently launched by Justin.tv, is a live-streamed video game portal and community for gamers.It featurescompetitions of a variety of games and platforms with top gamers, tournaments and commentary. - The portal enables an audience to view a live stream of a game, text chat, and listen to the audio of playersAn improvement yes, but wouldn’t it be better if the players could actually see each other?With the launch of PokerView‘s WebCam Poker games, powered by the OpenTok API, the gap between real-world and virtual game interaction is being bridged.They are the first site to fully dedicate itself to the concept of live WebCam poker games. For online poker players, real-world cues were completely lost, until now. Instead of a screen-name, avatar or chat-box, each player has a streaming video next to their hand. Now you can see your opponents’ mugs for better or worse.
Onto healthcare, most patient and health communities have connected mainly through email discussion groups and chat rooms But, asynchronous text communicationlacks the humanization of a face-to-face meeting. Especially when it comes to support groupsYahoo Groups andother support group forums have broken down geographical constraints and enabled groups to pull individuals from anywhere based on similar needs or interestsBut, Can relationships between people who never see, or hear each other be supportive and intimate?Here is a glimpse at In the Rooms An online social network for recovering addicts and their friends/family which is meant to augment the traditional 12-step and other recovery programsCommunication is primarily text based, (asynchronously through profile posts and synchronously through text chat) Preparing to launch a new online meeting platform structured after actual AA/NA meetings whichincorporates video, audio and text chat into the equation. Now, anyone with an Internet connection and a desire to stay sober can attend a traditional meeting from the comfort of their home, something that hadn’t ever been possible before.
The digital world is rewriting the media agency rule book. Staying ahead of the curve means creating compelling communications campaigns that really engage the target audience and make a lasting impression. As such, agencies are understanding that they should be talking with the audience and not at them. Take for instance Travelocity’s Chatroulette campaign. Travelocity’s agency, McKinney, launched a campaign on Chatroulette that displayed the Roaming Gnome brand icon to random chatters. The gnome holds a sign encouraging chatters to consider taking trips. It gave them a way to easily interact face-to-face with fans and followers for free as well as gave them a new, buzz worth way to reach audiencesChatroulette may have proved the power of face-to-face interaction for brands and businesses, but it fell short as a mainstream marketing tool, not least because of issues around online safety, targeting and measurement.Meet Me Under the MistletoeMcKinney’s marketing consultants used OpenTok as part of an online Christmas card app, Meet Me Under The Mistletoe, which invited friends to meet virtually in a digital photo booth where they could snap a photo of themselves smooching at each other's images. So what’s next in online advertising? If used properly, new video chat technology can enable brands to connect with their target audience to facilitate conversations amongst their online communities. For example, why not create a targeted banner advertisement campaign that includes a live video stream that “talks” to consumers? Imagine the banner ad is syndicated across multiple websites or web properties at once.
The most broadly adopted video communications tools have bypassed the relevant standards, which are stuck in the relative dark ages and closed environments are the result. The end result in this evolution (or at least the one that we can see) is the complete demolition of the walls, enabling users to video chat across platforms and devices, with no regard for environment. our goal is to open up our video communications platform at every conceivable layer – from browser to the cloud – and make it possible for anything and anyone to connect and interoperate with it, leveraging the capabilities of the intelligent cloud we are building.So why am I telling you all this? My company, TokBox, is in the business of helping you make face-to-face communication happen within your app; bringing raw human interaction to your experience.
Ian Small - Presentation at Emerging Communications Conference & Awards (eComm 2011)