Put romance and Webcams in the same sentence and we're often talking about sites that are neither safe for work, nor a proper replacement for face-to-face human interaction. SpeedDate (formerly known as "SpeedEdate") would like you to think otherwise, with their online speed-dating solution that gives you three minutes a pop with a grouping of daters via Webcam. The site has already setup more than 15,000 virtual dates after making its debut in late October.
Similar to WooMe (which is still in private alpha) dates are short, (hopefully) sweet, and one-on-one. SpeedDate will match you up based on some basic personality and geographical preferences. And starting next week, members will get to check out information about the person they're talking to, in order to get some quick conversation topics. There are also big fat "yes" and "no" buttons to note whether or not you enjoyed your time, and would like to setup a real date. Afterwards you can go back and get in touch with said daters to arrange a real-world meetup if both of you clicked the green yes button. Clicking the no button will end the date and move you on to the next.
Like real speed-dating events, sessions on SpeedDate.com are scheduled for a chunk of time on a weekly basis to maximize your potential dating pool. At all other times, simply keeping the browser window open will continue to match you up with new people as they come online.
While speed dating cuts through some of the red tape of glossing over people's profiles, the other end of that is getting matched up with more undesirables than you might be expecting, which is where SpeedDate's matching algorithm becomes important. It's worth noting that this is clearly a far better system than what's been done with the Dating on Demand service that you watch on your cable box, and potentially easier than sniffing out a local speed dating session on your own. It's also a little different from the competition by offering voice, video, and text as a means of conversation, meaning if you're without a Webcam you're not entirely out of the game--although your chances are probably better with one.
For a broader look at the service, the creators of SpeedDate have put together a video, which despite its news story look and feel, is purely promotional. My favorite part is when it turns into black and white to signify the "old" way of Internet dating, which looks a lot like MySpace. Burn.