In the past couple of days, I’ve been struggling with a technical problem related to my thesis: finding a good browser-based video chat provider.
Some background: the experience I’m trying to create is online cooking with friends. The core of this is high-quality, browser-based video chat—essentially, something like Google+ Hangouts. However, I want to build a custom site and interface. Unfortunately, the Google+ Hangouts API is too limiting, so I turned to other solutions.
This weekend, I’ve been playing around with a free API called OpenTok (http://tokbox.com/) which is basically what I want: a flexible and easy way to embed real-time video chats into a webpage. However, after testing all weekend, I’ve noticed that it has 1-2 seconds more lag than Hangouts. Those precious few seconds are the difference between an almost naturalistic video chat experience and a socially awkward, far less usable one.
Because of this, I’m also open to the idea of alternatives. If you have any suggestions, please send them my way! Ideally, the video chat provider will:
- be browser-based (because I like the open platform that is the web)
- be relatively low-cost (~ $50/month), freemium, or free
- have the best video/audio quality and speed possible
- doesn’t require the end-user to download and install proprietary plugins (but I understand if this is a technological requirement)