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Watchitoo is adding a little flavor to the video conferencing industry tomorrow with its new interactive “Layers” function, including a way to monetize what you’re seeing on the screen.
The company, which competes with the Cisco owned WebEx and Citrix‘s GoToMeeting, is trying to be the less clunky, more integrated option for all kinds of businesses with video conferencing needs. Up to 25 people can interact with the video as a participant or a viewer, and can toggle between the two. The technology exists not as a separate service, like WebEx or GoToMeeting, but rather as code integrated directly into the website. This makes it easier to brand as your own, and since it’s embedded on your website, it’s easier for your participants to find and join the video conference, a criticism of its two main competitors. Businesses can also use Watchitoo to live stream events.
But, just like WebEx and GoToMeeting, interactivity is key for a productive user experience. Like video conference software on the market today, Watchitoo allows you to chat, share desktops, PDFs and videos, but these are only the beginning of what internet collaboration can achieve. To honor that, the company is incorporating what it calls “layers.”
“Like in broadcast television, a layer or multiple layers can now be added on top of the existing streaming content with Layers,” said Tom Clark, executive vice president of Watchitoo, in a statement. “Our revolutionary and scalable video streaming platform gives people the ability to apply this functionality to their streaming video with the click of a mouse.”
The first layer is a simple identification label, which can be populated with a name, position and company. This then pops up over the video chatter who currently has the floor. The second layer is a multimedia overlay to your video. This is called the Dynamic Visual layer, which lets you insert still and animated images, as well as flash content to help drive home your point or simply get people’s attention (look, it’s a blinky thing).
Another way to get people’s attention is to give them the option to weigh in on an issue. That’s where the third layer comes in: polls. While chatting, the meeting holder can create a poll, which exists over the video image. Polls results are tallied in real time and distributed to the audience, so they can see where their peers stand and the conference holders can receive reactions to their meeting.
What really deviates from the video conferencing norm, however, is the last, e-commerce layer. Businesses use Watchitoo not just for the mobile workforce, which needs a way to connect back to headquarters and has driven much of the innovation in the web conferencing arena. Instead, some organizations are using it to live stream events such as fashion shows. Recently, Watchitoo live streamed the RaiseCache fashion show, which was held to raise money for HackNY, an organization trying to breed technology innovators in New York. This layer allows for organizations such as HackNY to make money off of what is being shown in the video.
Video conference organizers can pop up a checkout box, showing an article of clothing or product the viewer is currently watching. For instance, in a fashion show, you can buy the dress you just saw down the runway right within Watchitoo while continuing to watch the show. This isn’t limited to fashion, however, it can lend itself to a small scale shopping network, or a product launch.
Outside of the obvious competitors who have their own set of layers and functions, the company sees Google Hangouts as a competitor, which falls more in line with Watchitoo’s vibe. Hangouts are a video chatting service, which can be accessed from Google’s social network Google+. Nine people can hangout at any point and time, and any number of people can act as viewers and watch the Google Hangout live. Google Hangouts are much more relaxed than traditional video conferencing software, but have sophisticated collaboration tools that businesses do use.
Watchitoo may not be the perfect solution for enterprises, as it feels more tailored toward the small business that wants to get ahead with a cooler interface and more creative options. Perhaps Watchitoo is the mullet of video conferencing, business in the front, with interesting, fun ways to use it in the back.