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SocialEyes users sign on with Facebook IDs and can connect with known friends or other members of the online community with shared interests.
It is a free service and works directly within your browser using Adobe Flash, a multimedia platform for animation and video. Users can have multiple video conversations going on at once in separate windows.Combining conversations is also on offer – the software has tools to connect windows and create ad hoc group meetings.
For most users, it is expected the app will be seen as a more appropriate version of Chatroulette, which randomly connected users in “vidchats” – that service that became known as a stage for bawdy antics by strangers.
Social Eyes cofounder Rob Williams argues the startup “takes the social networking experience to the next level by enabling people to connect with their networks and meet interesting people who share common interests through face-to-face communication or via video messages”.
The San Francisco-based company has raised over US$5-million, with US$600,000 coming from independent angel investment and the rest from a round of funding led by Ignition Partners.
“The internet has brought us all closer, but SocialEyes takes social networking to a whole new level by connecting you face-to-face with people, not usernames,” said DEMO executive producer Matt Marshall.
“It completely changes the way we communicate with and meet new people.”
Fellow co-founder Rob Glaser had the idea when he considered video conferencing via the web had been around since the 1990s, the though hasn’t kept pace with the radical changes in social interactions made possible by social media sites like Facebook. “SocialEyes is changing that with a new tool that introduces video into the Facebook experience,” he says.
By associating with Facebook, SocialEyes has an enormous potential pool of users, and the goal is to make it easy for each of them to use the service, according to tech journalist Robert Scoble.
In the words of the co-founders, “one of the very powerful things we do with SocialEyes is rollout something that works across every (Facebook) user–500 million users around the world–with essentially no software download.”
SocialEyes initially targets PC users, but users of smartphones and tablet PCs are obvious follow-on targets according to the company’s co-founders.