Inventor Tom Wolzien just received the patent for his Skype-based Video Call Center technology, which means he can roll it out to TV or web providers who want to offer an affordable video version of talk radio. He says this will be “the first new TV content genre since the inception of reality TV two decades ago.” That’s a bold forecast; several readers understandably were skeptical more than a year ago when I first wrote about the idea. I’d join them — except that I also know that Wolzien is a guy who has earned the right to be taken seriously. Before he decided to dedicate himself to inventions (he already has several major patents), advising moguls, and serving as TiVo’s lead independent director, he was one of the smartest media analysts on Wall Street, and had been a top exec at NBC News.
His Video Call Center technology is designed to make it easy for a small staff — from two to five people — to offer a professional-looking TV show that incorporates Skype video calls from as many as eight people at a time. “It’s relatively easy to do one Skype call, but when you do one after another after another, it’s fairly complex,” he says. He took four years to build a system that he says can handle many of the production chores at “a single-digit hundredth of the cost” currently needed to mount a video call-in show. Early customers could be small- to medium-size cable channels or TV stations that are under pressure to cut their programming costs. Wolzien says he’s having conversations with at least one major company that’s eager to invest.
If you want to check it out, go to talkcenteramerica.com. Wolzien plans to run what he calls “laboratory shows” that will feature courtroom artists, entrepreneurs and people with tattoos. But he foresees opportunities to use the technology to empower citizen journalists and photographers around the world once he works out the bugs. “This thing is still evolving, so I don’t know if it’s ready to pack in a box without me in the box.”
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