Tokbox – A great free tool for video conferencing and video email
May 30, 2009 by Phil Montero
Whether you are collaborating with team members across distance or want to stay in touch with family and friends there are times when a phone call or an email just isn’t enough. You long for face time. Traveling or bringing everyone together isn’t always an option – so why not consider using video?
Recently I was traveling to Boston for a week to meet with some clients. The hardest part of the trip was being away from my wife and 2 year old son Spencer. We decided to make things more bearable we would have a video chat at least once a day using Skype. I also decided to send them frequent video emails using a great service called Tokbox.
Tokbox is a free service that allows you to send up to 10 minute video emails and have video conferencing with up to 20 people. Both of these are very impressive as most other video email programs allow for only a minute or two and most video chat programs only support one-to-one conversations.
To see a sample of Tokbox in action view this short video I recorded using their service:
I haven’t tried their video conferencing services much as I currently use Skype for real time video chats but I will be testing it further in the coming weeks – especially the multi-person video conferencing. I’ll follow up with another blog post to let you know my thoughts and share some of the other video conferencing services I have found.
I used to use Eyejot for video email and while I found the service to be good – it limits you to a recording of only 60 seconds unless you upgrade to one of their paid options. Tokbox on the other hand blows that away with their 10 minute limit. This past week Spencer and I have been sending lots of video emails to family and friends that haven’t seen him in a while (he has even been strumming on my ukulele and singing some songs – needless to say everyone is amazed!)
Sending video email to family and friends is fun and a great way to keep in touch but video email can always be used as a serious business tool. Video email among virtual team members is a great way to improve informal communication, boost team cohesiveness, and add a greater level of presence to conversations. As a manager of a virtual team you could send out a video email to email to everyone on your team once a week letting them know about upcoming project deadlines or celebrating milestones reached. Imagine how much more powerful a virtual pat on the back to a team member would be if you did it via video email and shared it with the whole team? The possiblities are endless and limited only by your creativity.
Want to know more about the service? Read 10 Reasons to use Tokbox for Video Mail from their own blog.
Another great feature of Toxbox is they allow you to create a video recorder box to include on your website. This allows people leave you a video message without having to have a Tokbox account. We decided to give this a try so we are including a Video Recorder box below – if you have a webcam and a mic leave us a message using the box below and let us know what you think of the blog and if there is anything you’d like to see us cover here on The Anywhere Office.
UPDATE (12/3/10): Unfortunately since writing this post Tokbox has done away with the video email feature. You can now only use this to leave a video message for another Tokbox user that isn’t available when you try to call them. I was pretty bummed about this as I thought this was a great feature – but they are focusing more on live video conferencing now. I am exploring other services to use for video email and will write another post reviewing them soon.
No video camera? Leave us a comment below and let us know if you’ve used video email and how you think it can improve your virtual teams.