It's no secret that many people dislike live video calls. Whether it takes place in the boardroom or the living room, one person will request a Google Hangout, Skype call, or some other form of live video meeting, only to have the other party decline because they don't like how they look. It makes sense because of our culture. Entrepreneur Ron Stevens called video calling "not exactly a feature most of us would be comfortable with off the bat." People are prepared to type at you, maybe even to speak live to you, but sharing the way they appear is going too far. The numbers prove this. Even though 160 million people are expected to be using live video calling by 2017, that's still a small percentage of the 5 billion people who will have smartphones.
Get Ready for a Change
Our culture appears to be shifting though. Bandwidth, which has long been an obstacle to appreciating high quality live video calls, is getting better as companies build new infrastructure for the future. People are also becoming less scared of showing their face as new technology comes online to help them look better. "It's clear that telecoms will switch to video calling more and more at some point, but there are limitations right now," says Victor Shaburov of Looksery, a mobile app that maps your face and even changes how you looks during live calls or photo-taking.
"We're trying to help folks who don't like how they look during live video calls. Part of the problem is that many cameras actually distort your face and make you look fat, often because of lenses and focus. We're trying to develop solutions to those problems by tracking the face and modifying it in real time to look skinnier."
I ran into Looksery at a recent conference and wanted to try out theirtechnology myself, if only just to lose a little "camera weight." Shaburov took a series of photos and videos of me, then clicked a button to make my face slightly more skinny. The app's customizable features changed the color of my eyes and the shape of my chin. You can see the difference in the picture below. The app lets you share the video and images in aprivate chat or on major social networking sites.
There is definitely potential here for weight-conscious folks who want to slim down their features and look good in real-time on video calls. Shaburov says the app can change the color of your lips and turn you into an avatar as well. You can assume the role of a gecko, panda or zombie, all of which express the same emotions as you do in real-time, even while recording is taking place.
This could be a fun option for kids who want to star in a videogame that licenses the technology, or adults who just want to stay anonymous. Shaburov started the company about a year ago and even did a successfulKickstartercampaign in early July. The company will unveil iPad and Android versions in the coming months.
Looksery is an example of technology that may make it more easy for camera-shy folks to sit through live video calls or take pictures in the future. "We hope that big telecom companies will use our technology in the future as often as call-waiting," says Shaburov. "Now that video conferencing technology and bandwidth areimproving quicker than ever, we think this technology can convince people to accept a live videorequest instead of turning it down."