The Instant Messaging (IM) moving into the video realm

The value proposition of “quasi real time” text communication tools such as skype, google chat and the likes is clear: It allows the sender to convey the urgency of a message while allowing the receiver to respond at her/his earliest convenience without altering the flow of whatever action he or she is involved in. Additionally instant messaging (IM) tools do allow to escalate a quasi real time communication in to a real time communication if the need arises on both receiver and transmitter.

Building on this paradigm, chatting apps such as Whatsapp and Viber have further extended the ability to do instant messaging (IM) by adding a simple yet effective voice message button to their application. The receiver and sender of information now experience an additional benefits, hands free and less time invested in  packaging the message. (For the receiver  there is also the drawback that if he is in a place where audio is not permitted or appropriate he cannot discover the content of communication with the simple use of visual) . Audio text messaging works really great and if supported by state of the art speech to text algorithms it allows both side of the aisle ( receiver and sender) to save time in packaging and reading the message.

In this article  I want to discuss the IM new frontier : that is Video text message and the  use of virtual reality therein. My goal is to highlight the importance of video-texting and show some of the forthcoming enabling applications that video messaging will bring about in the near and medium future.

To this extend I want to mention two relatively new mobile apps that are being used in the consumer markets. These two technologies, however, have in my view potential for broader business applications.

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Technology at our disposal today 

Glide is primarily a video app that allows you to record up to 5 minutes video from your mobile device, using the camera pointing towards you or the back camera, and send the message to one of your friends, a group or someone you actually do not know. There are other apps of this sort around, but glide excels in the quality and timing of video encoding and video delivery. In the moment in which you start to record the message the receiver can either watch ( I am not sure on the latency but it must be low based on my many many conversations on Glide) your video or simply pick up the video at another time. Glide has a simple yet effective user interface with a few commands being shown at the right time and in the right context.  It is basically like Whatsapp in video!

http://looksery.com/ is really a next generation technology that leverages mad Ukrainian mathematicians talent, to deliver the first world real time face recognition and face rendering mobile application. In a few words looksery, not only allows you to send a video message, but it also allows you to change the way you look in real time. You can look thinner, put a bear or make your own eyes  look green. Most importantly your face can be completely reproduced by an Avatar, and while this may have questionable applications to some , from a technical stand point this is a formidable bandwidth saving. In fact, it saves factor 90%+allowing users to use less of their mobile data and also be less vulnerable to network band width variations.
I must say, that while the technology belongs to a different league, the user experience in looksery will concede for now to Glide. Looksery will also soon allow for background extraction, another very important feature in the video messaging realm.

If you haven’t tried  any of the two apps, please do!

The enabling factors behind  mobile video messaging

This new generation of instant messaging applications have been possible because of the availability of certain technologies and adoption factors. On the technology side the driving factors are:

  • High resolution and fast capture mobile cameras.
  • Hardware acceleration in encoding.
  • Availability of new video, communication  and virtual reality platforms.

When we look at  social acceptance and social dynamics,  some of the factors helping these apps end user acceptation are :

  • The need of reunion with friends and family
  • The spreading of narcissist behavior among the Y generation   (and all the other generations too)
  • The perennial need for new match discovery tools ( watching a video of a potential partner is much more like meeting someone in presence)
  • The innate inclination of humans to create entertaining media and assemble around media content consuption.

A closer look at adoption motifs and the “Job to be done” rule.
Jobs-To-Be-Done | Theory and Approach | Strategyn

With that said, I would like to analyze in more details what are the needs in consumers and B2B channels that result in the use of video and augmented video as a IM tool.

In the realm of consumers the emotional dimension of the human mind is key. The video is a quasi-realistic reproduction of a true human experience to feel part of something and being close to someone. The cost to video messaging, in terms of overcoming personal barriers to show oneself is high. This cost is to be paid when the emotional reword for the price is also high. This inherently project applications of the sort we discuss here in the realm of personal feelings, including love for a partner, a son, a nephew. While the search for being close to someone important is the trigger to overcome personal reservations to appear on camera technologies such as real time beatification and real time context alteration will lower that barrier to use. In this context Looksery is an absolute pioneer in tackling the two core factors to lower video messaging adoption barriers: “How I look like” , “how the place I am in right now looks like!”.

In the realm of business applications the increased productivity and cut of cost inefficiencies are the driving factors for adoption of new technology solutions. Particularly, economic advantages will reveal for contexts in which the following information are crucial to a certain business practice.

  • The time evolution of a certain process
  • Monitoring the functioning of a process
  • Analyzing the shape and the look of an object in a continuum from several perspectives.
  • distinguishing the time evolution of certain colors

When these information are crucial to a certain task (that could before not been accomplished from remote) than mobile video messaging will become a net productivity increase agent. Processes in which  a centralized location can host a set of supervisors (high costly individuals) that can, with a time differential, direct the operations of an on field less specialized person(an less costly) will become less expensive by using video messaging.
Therefore, video messaging realizes economies of scale that allow organizations to avoid the deployment of an expensive workforce across several locations, and save the idle time between traveling to different locations.

What the Future holds

I believe in the consumer realm,  video text messaging and the ability to modify the self image/context will spur into mass media applications. These applications will compete with television and other social media. The reason behind my thinking is that, the tools developed by Glide and particularly by Looksery are indeed video production tools for the masses. Over time other entrepreneurs will see the opportunity to specialize them in the realm of entertainment augmented  real time communication. Some of my ideas in this sector can be found on New Medialythics | Workshop .

In the business arena I envision the possibility to use image recognition to identify and control processes from remote. I believe virtual and augmented reality will help the receiver of video content to both better understand the context and remotely control certain operations that require the presence of a human on site. These operations do not necessarily entail the presence of a specialist on site(think of  emergencies of various type in industrial processes ). Technology in computer vision have been available for a while in the defense sector. However those are expensive and excessively specialized around security and identification of intruders. Today, mobile video messaging and augmented reality offer an opportunity to broaden the reach and the applications of computer vision into industrial emergency response at a fraction of the cost.

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