DateCam.com, as its name suggests, goes beyond the picture and profile available on most online dating sites, letting people interact via real-time video in an attempt to attract suitors or meet friends.
The site, part JenniCam, part dating service, part chat room, is designed to appeal to social young adults who are looking for love and like to experiment with new technology.
DateCam, which officially launched Tuesday, said providing video will let customers weed out potential dates more quickly by letting their personality shine through. "See if Mr. or Mrs. Right is a complete 'loser' from the first click," a DateCam representative wrote in an e-mail to CNET News.com.
Despite its frisky milieu, the site faces an uphill battle in cracking the popular and lucrative online dating scene. The market is already dominated by bigwigs including Matchmaker.com, Match.com, and Yahoo Personals. Online dating ventures are among the few profitable sites on the Web, and some of them are already experimenting with offering video features.
DateCam is one of the first sites to take advantage of Macromedia's, a Web development product that lets site creators add interactive features to their pages. DateCam is operated by multimedia company One World Media, which entered the online dating fray after deciding Internet matchmaking will be the killer app for consumer multimedia on the Web.
"We wanted to choose something that was a sure bet," said Carolynne Tilga, DateCam president and co-founder.
The site also plans to add audio for subscribers to its premium service.
In addition to videos, DateCam is hoping to differentiate itself by letting people engage in real-time chat, a feature that's extremely popular among teenagers and young adults. The service, which costs $24.95 a month, acts much like a chat room, allowing people to interact with a group of people who share their interests by visiting "rooms" with themes such as music or romance. They also can retreat to private rooms where they can chat with dates in a personal space.
The video offerings, of course, open up customers to the seedier side of the Net. DateCam does not monitor the videos or chat and only requires that users be 18 years or older.
The company said it hopes to stave off abuses by requiring people to pay for the service and by allowing customers to report or ban people who offend them.