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Although video itself isn't new, the ability to incorporate it into mobile dating definitely is, says Nick Bicanic, of Los Angeles, creator of Flikdate, which bills itself as "the fastest date in the world.""Video communication is coming into its own," he says. Getting past the static photos and wordy profiles so characteristic of dating websites and even some mobile dating apps, the addition of live video chat gets right to the chemistry of in-person interaction, say companies offering the service."Technically speaking, it was not possible as recently as two years ago. Now, we're at the very beginning, but it's about to come into its heyday.This next year will be a really interesting time for us."Bicanic and a handful of entrepreneurs are behind some of the start-ups emerging with a focus on live video for dating.Among those in this growing field are Dating.fm, Flikdate, Video Date and two newbies launched last fall -- View N Me and Instamour.
The business models vary, but free to the user is a common thread for the video experience.Some charge a fee for certain amounts of chat time. View N Me, for example used to charge for a one-month basic membership that allows users to view messages, request dates, join speed dating sessions and participate in one-on-one video chats. Safety is a particular concern, and companies deal with it in different ways.Marcel Cafferata of San Jose, Calif., founder of Video Date, says it does not use phone numbers or e-mails, and messages delete after 24 hours.At Date.fm, the focus is on simplicity: asks "really basic questions, and finds you potential matches.It then shows you pictures with each user's age and general location, and you like or dislike them.