UK Web Focus

Innovation and best practices for the Web

TokBox – A Useful Video-Conferencing Tool Or Something Sinister?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 19 September 2007

The TokBox Video Chat Tool

The TokBox instant video chat tool was reviewed by TechCrunch in August 2007. As with several of the Web 2.0 services I’ve mentioned on this blog, Tokbox is very easy to set up and use: simply register for a (free) account and, assuming you have a Webcam and microphone available, that’s about it. You can simply invite your friends to visit your area on the ToxBox Web site and they can then have a video chat with you, as illustrated below (in which I’m chatting to my colleague Paul Walk).

TokBox videoconferencing toolAs is the norm for many Web 2.0 services, TokBox can be embedded in other Web pages or blogs. And ToxBox makes use of tagging for identification of users (I’ve used the ‘ukoln’ tag to identify myself).

It also seems that ToxBox can support more than two users (the icon in the top right window shows the number of users).

The Hidden Dangers

Last week when I started to evaluate TokBox I used it with a number of colleagues in. On one Later on Paul came into my office, telling me that he had been watching me and it was obvious that I was unaware that Paul had connected to my ToxBox account and was viewing the video and listening to me talking to myself!

I had expected to approve anyone who wished to view my video feed, so I was surprised when this happened – although I realised that I would have missed a sound alert as I had turned down the sound on my loudspeaker.

Conclusions

Should we be worried about the privacy implications of TokBox? My view is that this is an educational issue and, once we understand how the application works, we will use it in ways which reflect our particular requirements (indeed, one person commented on the TechCrunch article that TokBox is “going to force me to blog in something other than my pajamas.”).

Although many video chat tools are available (including Skype) TokBox is interesting as it requires no software to be installed locally. Rather the integration with the Web browser is carried out using Flash. For me I think it could be a useful ‘just-in-case’ or ‘just-in-time’ communications tool, rather than something that I’ll use on a regular basis.I was also interested to read that a TokBox application for Facebook is now available.

I was also interested to read a post on the Advercation blog which is “aggregating as many people’s TokBoxes as possible on one page” – an experiment which has some interesting possibilities. I have to admit that it reminds me of University Challenge, but I’m worried that, as a number of people have already commented, its killer use may be for the porn market :-(.

Aggregation of TokBox interfaces

Technorati Tags: TokBox

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18 Responses to “TokBox – A Useful Video-Conferencing Tool Or Something Sinister?”

  1. Molly said

    Hi Brian – I was very interested to read your experiences of TokBox and wondered if you had tried ooVoo? I write for ooVooworld, the unofficial WOM world for ooVoo, and I’m looking for reviews and opinions of this application.

    It’s also a free video chat download allowing up to 6 users to chat at a time with no risk of unannounced viewers! You can also send video messages using the app.

    Be interesting to see what you think of it compared to the other applications in this field as you obviously have a pretty good overview!

    Cheers, Molly

  2. Hi Molly
    Thanks for the info. I have installed ooVoo and will give it a try and write up my thoughts.

  3. thehitchcockblonde said

    Great Brian. I’ll keep an eye out on the blog! You can ooVoo me (username ooVooMolly) if you need someone to test it out on :)

  4. Brian,
    never mind the technology… what about the fact that your Web-cam is pointing straight up your left nostril! :-)

  5. And I didn’t even realise that you were watching me. Spooky. Who on earth suggested that we needed truly open social networking tools :-)

  6. Serge said

    Brian,

    My name is Serge; I am the CEO of TokBox. I wanted to respond to your concerns.

    Our plan for TokBox is to include ironclad privacy controls and to make sure that nobody feels that what they do on TokBox is not secure. The reason we have not yet implemented this is very banal: we haven’t had enough developer time and it is challenging to make it truly secure. However, it is a top priority on our list, and we will update TokBox in the next 2-3 weeks to include secure communication and extensive privacy options that can be customized by the user.

    If you have any suggestions on what you’d like to see us include or other questions, feel free to email me (serge at tokbox dot com) and I’ll make sure it gets the proper attention

    Thank you for voicing your concerns. We have the most simple/easy to use product on the market, but it is definitely far from perfect, and we are working around the clock to make it better!

    Cheers,
    -Serge

  7. Serge said

    Brian,

    I wanted to let you know that all calls on TokBox are now completely private

    -Serge

  8. […] Comments Mike on All UK Government Web Sites Mu…Serge on TokBox – A Useful Video-Confer…Mark Sammons on On ThunderbirdBrian Kelly (UK Web … on On ThunderbirdPhil Wilson on […]

  9. […] a post on possible downsides of Tokbox. Also check out ooVoo, a similar video chat […]

  10. gerarddlm said

    I’ve had a nasty experience with Tokbox. It is with my email address book. Tokbox sent out invitations to all on my address book without my permission. This also happens to all persons who respond to the invitation as well. No sooner they click on the link confirming that so and so is my friend there it goes, sends out invitations to all on their address book. This is bad and not acceptable!!!!

  11. mark said

    I have heard that too all calls on TokBox are now completely private

  12. Lafeeu said

    It could be handy for things like MCB Editorial Board Meetings that certain people may not be able to physically get to or even for conducting and recording video interviews for sharing on the web. It looks pretty swell.

  13. Nick A said

    Reviews seems good but still I am looking for integrating it with my site and to use it as an alternative / supportive unit for my http://www.rhubcom.com ( I know this should be asked in forum but sorry .). Any idea of how to do that..Googling doesn’t produce any result.

  14. […] work.  Indeed the final example I gave above was from dbillian, a Toxbox employee.  And as I have previously written about Tokbox I potentially have a contact with someone who may be responsive to queries about, in this case, the […]

  15. Yeah, It’s really nice, Can we use this for video conferencing?.

  16. dbillian said

    Hi Live Meeting,

    Yes, Tokbox also has a video conferencing feature. Some info here: http://blog.tokbox.com/2008/11/25/better-know-a-feature-tokbox-video-conferencing/

  17. Wow..seems a bit close to Chat Roulette in that anyone could connect at any minute. I understand that you had the volume down, but like most remote access there should certainly be some sort of window that shows all connected users.

  18. Dany said

    FaceFlow is also a good instant video chatting application. You can also meet new people and play games. You should blog about this new website too.

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