Chatroulette, while adding to the growing interest in video chat technology has been unable to divest itself from some of human nature's baser instincts. However, it has inspired others to build out the video conferencing platform to develop business models that are now appealing to a much broader audience for business, special interests and branding purposes.
Taking best practices from similar successful enterprises, a new site called VistitorsCafe blends Skype, or friend-to-friend conferencing with dating sites such as eHarmony, where you are paired on a one-to-one with those of similar interests. Site owners have the option to open the chat area to visitors from similar sites, enabling their visitors to meet new people and spread the word about a particular Web site.
While Chatroulette has been unable to implement security measures to curb the practice of users exposing themselves, Visitors Cafe has addressed that issue with its recent launch.
Morgan Hermand-WaicheCognizant of these security critiques, founder Morgan Hermand-Waiche feels that security controls are key in securing this space for serious users. To that end, the VisitorsCafe site offers a robust users' report mechanism, an IP address blacklist verification system and for those that select their advanced products over the freemium offering - the site appoints a 24/7 moderator and spam team for oversight surveillance.
VisitorsCafe Safe Chat
The other interesting new wrinkle is the Web chat widget which can be installed and embedded on any Web site or publishing platform, such as InventorSpot - within seconds. So, for instance in my case, by adding the VistorsCafe widget to my AUTHOR'S page, I would be able to communicate with any one who has interest in discussing issues related to "Social Media." And when I'm not physically communicating with my readers, they can use the widget to be pair up with others who want to discuss the topic of social media.
Like dating sites, the site's patented technology is able to relevantly match users as they become members of the site. This is the result of sign-ups requiring demographic data such as age, gender, location, educational background and other biographical identifiers.
In interviewing Hermand-Waiche today, he indicated that if a Web site owner provided a time schedule to visitors, similar to a TV guest appearance, "it would definitely increase the number of readers who will talk with the Site owner or Author, in a series of one-on-one conversations."
In regards to monetization, he noted that the site's freemium model "offers a free standard feature to anyone (where we can display targeted advertising), whereas the tailored products require a subscription fee for customized design, the matching process and the enhanced security features (mentioned above)."
For interested parties, Hermand-Waiche welcomes newcomers. "We are currently on an invitation-only service (request your invitation here)." he says. The site is clearly focused on Web chats becoming as integral to social media discourse as sites like Twitter and Facebook. However, like the real world with a site like VisitorsCafe, one now has the advantage of a face-to-face conversation with like-minded followers, friends, fans and business associates.
Video-chatting has come a long way from 'random naked guy' chatting, and VisitorsCafe, along with some of the other first-movers in this space are definitely showing that grown-ups want to use the space as well, but in a much more constructive and serious manner.
For more on video chat technology, please check out some of my previous posts,