TouchCast Brings Its Interactive Video Tools To PCs

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TouchCast, a startup with a more interactive approach to online video, is launching a beta version of its Windows PC app today.

The company was co-founded by former TechCrunch editor Erick Schonfeld and it launched its first product, an iPad app, back in June. The app combines easy-to-use video production tools with “vApps” (short for video apps), which allow users to include interactive content from sources like Google Maps, Facebook, Twitter, and pretty much any web page.

Schonfeld told me yesterday that the iPad app has been downloaded more than 160,000 times. (One of the big use cases, he said, is for sharing between teachers and students.) He and co-founder Edo Segal both see the desktop PC app as a product that can be used by more professional customers, with new features like the ability to support multiple cameras, to import videos that may have been shot and edited with other programs, and to create “hot spots” in a video that can link to any web page when clicked. Plus, someone who uses TouchCast on a PC should be able to tap into more computing power than they would on an iPad.

Many of those new features will eventually make their way to the iPad version, Schonfeld added — there isn’t a hard-and-fast division between the PC and tablet, and he imagines that some users will go back and forth between the two.

Schonfeld and his co-founder Edo Segal also reiterated their broader vision, which is to foster something they call the “video web” — in other words, to make video content feel less walled off from the rest of the web. That means video producers can incorporate more web content, and it also means that someone watching a video can interact with that video in a new way. For example, with the new hot spot functionality, users can open up relevant websites and browse them while continuing to watch the video. They also suggested this means that users could end up engaging with, say, a two-minute video for 10 or 20 minutes.

For now, Schonfeld said the app is being used primarily for video production, not consumption. In addition to adding more interactivity, both he and Segal suggested that TouchCast could “democratize” the production process by allowing users to make high quality videos without spending a lot of money on equipment (you can use your built-in iPad camera or a simple webcam) or a lot of time on post production (you can put the video together while you’re filming, with no post production required).

In that sense, Schonfeld compared TouchCast to a blogging platform like WordPress, because it “liberates” people to publish content on their own, rather than working with a team of developers, editors, and so on.

Segal acknowledged that TouchCast is still a long way from winning over a mass audience to its bigger vision for online video, but he said the company is still laying the foundation.

“We’re very comfortable with where it is right now,” he said. “Not everybody’s getting it, but all the vectors are pointing at it — that video is the canvas of the web.”

Segal noted that behind-the-scenes, TouchCast has an enterprise business where it works with large media customers, he said it’s too early to announce any of them.

Like the iPad version, the TouchCast PC app is available for free. (Yes, there’s supposed to be a Mac version in the works.) And here’s a TouchCast demonstrating TouchCast on the PC (embedded via YouTube, so it doesn’t have viewer interactivity).