“I think what is pushing people apart more than anything in technology is text,” said Danny Robinson, CEO and founder of Perch.
“Text is such a diluted form of communication. More and more people are texting. How often do you pick up a phone and talk to somebody? Video is the next best thing to being there. It really feels like you are right in front of somebody and if we can get more conversations happening on video than on text, I think we’ll bring more people closer together.”
Vancouver-based, Perch is an always-on video connection that is intended to help company’s bridge culture gaps, workplace communicate effectively and families stay in touch. By designating an iOS device to Perch, users can connect with anyone on the other end, whether they are across the hall or across the continent.
While apps like Skype or Facetime behave primarily like a phone call, Perch resembles an open window. With such accessibility, Perch made sure privacy was the paramount concern. It didn’t matter if you are connecting an office in Toronto to an office in Vancouver or from the workplace to your kitchen at home; the creepy-factor is something Robinson and the Perch team wanted to eliminate.
“To make it socially acceptable,” said Robinson, “it has to be polite. You cannot spy or eavesdrop on people.”
Perch disables the microphone until the face-recognition feature identifies a user’s face on the iOS device. In addition, only the front camera on the iPad or iPhone is activated when Perch is in use. Perch is not a security camera. It’s not meant to be concealed. That being said, Robinson who has an iPad on his desk looking into his home kitchen and he can’t help feeling a peace of mind knowing that Perch is there.
“It’s doesn’t record,” said Robinson, who previously founded Redhand, a remote video monitoring application that turned old devices into a security camera. “Our older versions of Perch would record, but we found that people enjoyed the live interaction more. It gets to the heart of the company and that was to communicate with a human element.”
Perch does more than enable people to make exchanges for work and/or home life; by always being on, the app gives a chance for impromptu interactions between two different spaces. These spontaneous moments are where people really get to know one another. On Skype or on a phone call, people tend to talk about specifics; with Perch you can have conversations you didn’t intend to have.
Perch has two general modes, the always-on portal mode and the video caller-display mode. The video caller-display feature only allows others to communicate after you agreed. This allows you to focus on your work or go about your day without being interrupted.
“Three-quarters of this office might not be interested in Perch until we put it on the wall,” said Robinson. “Then they are like, ‘that’s pretty cool.’ Once it is on the wall and it’s cool, then they use it all the time. Hopefully, they will see the value and bring it home.”
During this year’s Mozilla Summit, Perch will be the communication of choice from October 4th to 6th in Brussels, Santa Clara, and Toronto.