The premise behind ChatRoulette was fiendishly simple. Utilise the webcam that’s built into most people’s computers and add an element of sex to it. Rather than create a paid for service, Andrey Ternovskiy decided to create a live version of the popular hot or not game, where users log on to flirt with each other and ‘next’ anyone they don’t find attractive or interesting. Annoyingly, the site is pretty much useless for anyone who doesn’t want to watch masturbation, as a quick play around reveals that 90% (a completely made up statistic) of users seem to be men.
Nonetheless, there’s something about this level of instant interaction that’s appealing, and if used correctly could be really positive. Healcam is a brand new service (barely been launched a month) which aims to take the premise of instant video chat to a new level, by putting people with various illnesses in touch with each other. Sure, if you have Diabetes or Cancer you already have a ton of support groups and forums, but that doesn’t mean you get to chat face to face with someone whenever you feel like it. Counselling sessions need to be scheduled, appointments made- sometimes you just want a one on one with someone who understand your issues.
It’s completely free to use the site, you simply go to the Healcam website, select your sex, say whether you’d like to talk to a male, female or ‘anyone’ and then choose your condition. At present there are 5 to choose from: Back &Neck, Diabetes, Cancer, Pregnancy and Childbirth, and Heart Disease. There’s a button saying sub topic next to them, but only the Diabetes one expands into the options of Type 1 and Type 2 (guessing this will expand as their user base grows). Their blog does mention that they will have health channels that will include ‘Weight Loss & Dieting’ and ‘Depression’, but at present they’re not on the site yet.
The concept is fantastic, and I’m hoping that the people who use the site will respect that, and that we will find those willing to share information and advice about their conditions to those who need it.
The Healcam creators say, ‘We envision the site as a large meeting place, where people can exchange information, get or give moral support, and learn from others’. It’s a resource I can imagine using, so I’m hoping others will feel that way.
The next step is working out whether the site will be able to keep afloat from advertising. Considering the topics involved, monetizing it once it gets popular should be fairly simple, as I’m sure many charities and organizations would want to get behind this.
The main problem will be assessing the potential of abuse that could happen if people give others bad advice, as that could prove dangerous to people with medical conditions. As long as the site is used therapeutically and not as a replacement for a doctor I see no reason why this shouldn’t do very well.
At present there are very few users, but as this gains popularity I’m hoping a huge community will spring up.