San Francisco-based mobile video startup Kamcord launched a novel take on live video streaming Monday: Kamcord users stream a live view of their mobile phone’s screen, complete with a voice-over and a picture-in-picture view of their face.
The company calls this “appcasting,” and Kamcord co-founder Aditya Rathnam described it in a recent interview with Variety as the next step in mobile media capture. YouTube trained people to record videos of their surroundings, he said, and Snapchat popularized selfie videos. “There is actually a third camera on your phone — your screen,” he said.
Rathnam argued that Kamcord could help give people a voice who wouldn’t broadcast on Periscope or Facebook Live. Those competing services are often hampered by the fact that many people simply don’t know what to say once they’re on camera. “They are just not going to create compelling content,” he said.
Kamcord tries to alleviate this by giving broadcasters visual cues. Instead of just staring into the camera, they can browse websites, check out new apps or even watch YouTube videos and comment on them in real time, Mystery Science Theater-style. Broadcasters can also interact with their audience, and there’s a privacy mode that hides the screen when ever they have to enter a password.
Broadcasts of Kamcorders can be watched on the web as well as in the company’s iOS and Android apps. But for now, appcasting is only possible with phones running Android 5.0 or higher. iPhones and older Android handsets can’t capture the entire screen in real-time. Rathnam said more than 500 million devices currently run Android versions capable of broadcasting their screen on Kamcord.
This isn’t Kamcord’s first attempt to find a new take on mobile video. The company originally launched with a service that could record game-play clips from select mobile games, and launched live streams of mobile video games late last year.
With appcasting, Kamcord now tries to take that same idea beyond gamer audiences, and actually enable YouTube stars and other creators to make money with it as well. For that, Kamcord is relying on virtual goods, allowing viewers to buy brodcasters gifts that cost anywhere from $0.40 to $80 a piece. “It’s like buying a backstage pass,” said Rathnam.
Appcasting is definitely an intriguing concept, and one that also seems to appeal to investors: Kamcord also announced a new Series C round of funding Monday. The new funding is led by Time Warner, with participation from Tencent, TransLink Capital, XG Ventures, Wargaming, and Plug & Play Ventures.