Random Video Chat Comes to Facebook, Courtesy of Rounds
"We created Rounds to give online social networking and social gaming more of a real-time, fun, and collaborative feeling," CEO Dany Fishel told WebProNews. "Rounds bridges the gap between real life and the online world by helping people feel close to one another no matter how far apart they are geographically."
Since launch, the app has been gaining momentum with over 300,000 active members. The company now has 20 games and activities for the app, including something called Random Rounds, introduced today.
If you’re thinking random video chat has been done before, you’d be right, but Rounds insists this will not encounter the infamous pitfalls of ChatRoulette (you know, the perverted stuff which got the service more attention than anything).
"The Random Rounds feature is basically another interesting way for our users to enjoy our rich video chat platform," Fishel tells us. "The difference is, before, they could have either done stuff by themselves or with one of their Facebook friends, now, they can do them while meeting someone completely new."
"Unlike other random chat platforms that usually just offer video chatting and result in quick meaningless encounters (which don’t go beyond a few seconds), on Rounds, when you meet someone interesting, you can immediately break the ice with one of the effects, or use the social tips mechanism to get questions and ice breakers based on that persons interests and likes, and then bridge the physical gap with the different social activities and fun real-time games," Fishel says.
In fact, this sounds like a concept that could’ve made ChatRoulette more engaging from the beginning. Members can play with webcam effects, collaboratively watch YouTube videos, play multi-user interactive games, draw on whiteboards, send gifts to one another, write texts together, and browse websites such as Facebook, Google Maps and Flickr, while remaining in the video chat environment.
"We’re not trying to replicate or even enhance the experience of sites like Chatroulette, we’re just creating a new way for our platforms users to do all the different activities that our platform has to offer whilst meeting someone new," says Fishel.
"There are mechanisms in place to prevent questionable content from strangers," Fishel says. For example, only members with over 100 friends can use Random Rounds, and members are only connected to users within the same age group. Perhaps most importantly, members’ real Facebook account information is shown so there is no anonymity, and there is a reporting mechanism for singling out "bad" users. Users who abuse the platform will be blocked permanently and will be reported to Facebook at the risk of losing their account.
I should note that Rounds isn’t the only option for random video chat on Facebook.