September 14, 2010, Updated September 13, 2012

Revolutionary new Israeli Videochats program means you can chat directly from Facebook, while Website owners can chat directly to customers and enhance sales.

Videochats for Facebook

Through Videochats, shopping sites can reach out and communicate with customers in real time, offering help or ideas.

Video chatting – communicating through an instant messaging program via a webcam – is nothing new, but a novel application created by Israeli entrepreneur, mathematician and linguist Jacob Zoarets is set to fundamentally change our video chats.

Zoarets’ new program, called Videochats, can be used directly from Facebook, the world’s most popular Web application. “All other chat solutions require that you download a dedicated application in order to conduct a video chat,” Zoaretz tells ISRAEL21c. “Videochats is the first video chat application that works in conjunction with Facebook, which has become the premier method of communication for many people, and you can access Videochats directly from within Facebook.”

Videochats, which had its beta introduction in early August, brings another radical innovation: The program allows owners of websites to communicate directly with the people who visit their site, in real time.

“Imagine this,” enthuses Zoarets, “If you’re running a shopping site, you’ll be able to reach out and communicate with customers, offering them help or shopping ideas. Videochats is the first and only application that enables website owners to become active participants in how people who surf to the site experience it, as opposed to the passive role they have taken until now.”

Are you talking to me?

Indeed, according to Zoarets, both sides of the Videochats equation – the Facebook app and the website component – are revolutionary, and it’s all thanks to the latest edition of Adobe Flash, which allows peer-to-peer connections and bandwidth allocation.

Videochats exploits both features, allowing users to benefit from the technology and establish a no-hassle video link in any program that supports Flash (including most Web browsers), and to adjust the quality to take maximum advantage of their computer and network resources.

By utilizing the Adobe Flash technology, Videochats can perform tricks that none of its competitors (like Skype), can pull off – like not requiring a dedicated program to conduct chats.

In addition, Zoarets says, you can use Videochats to talk to as many people as you like, at the same time. You can conduct, say, a dozen different conversations in separate chat windows, or you can integrate that dozen into a single conference call. It’s also easy to switch the microphone on and off with a click, if what you’re saying isn’t for everyone’s ears.

The most outstanding feature of Videochats (and there are plenty of similar programs out there) is that Zoarets’ program is the only one that lets you communicate in real time with the people visiting your website.

The Web component of Videochats has two parts: The first is a component that allows you to observe the activity of a user on your site, and then open a dialog box with them. The second grants you the ability to initiate a video chat, if the other party is agreeable. And there’s no need for the user to install anything, since the Videochat app is embedded on the website.

Sales up “dozens of percent”

“Web retailers we’ve spoken to are very enthusiastic,” Zoarets reports, “For the first time, they can reach out and work with customers, giving them suggestions and ideas, and answering questions, meaning that there is less of a chance that they will lose sales.” In case studies conducted on live websites, Zoarets tells ISRAEL21c that sales increased “dozens of percent” when the Videochats technology was used.

No newcomer to high-profile and highly-productive applications, Zoarets’ previous venture was an application called Twitter Analyzer, established two years ago. It’s one of the more popular tools to measure user effectiveness and reach on the Twitter social network.

“I started that application as my first foray into social networks, which is where the most exciting applications are being developed, using my experience as a mathematician and linguist,” he says.

Zoarets is a unique entrepreneur. Dropping out of college to make money, he worked for years in information retrieval, developing the technology used in many of the major search engines.

Videochats, based in the center of the country in Rosh Ha’ayin, is essentially funded as a spin-off of Twitter Analyzer. The company is privately financed and has about 10 full-time employees, with freelancers kicking in on several projects. While the basic functions of Videochats on Facebook are likely to remain free, Zoarets expects to earn money from ads, and from licensing fees for websites using the application.

In the few weeks that the app has been available on Facebook, thousands of users have embraced it. And Zoarets promises that this is just the beginning, “It’s a revolution in communication and marketing. We could be looking at a new standard here.”

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director