This time I immediately turned to the big Talk To Someone button in the middle of the screen, which like the notorious Chatroulette video service is designed to hook you up with others anonymously. However, the spin here is that you can fill in interests (based on Facebook pages... I wasn't able to just type in any old words) or check/uncheck buttons for friends of friends or people nearby, and Airtime will then match you up with people who at least have similar interests.
I actually didn't fill in any interests on my maiden voyage, so was connected with people purely anonymously. The first guy (everyone I saw was a guy) just saw the Hulk Hogan glass on my desk and shouted out "Hulkamania!" and then he was off. But I then did settle in with a friendly gent in NYC with a bunch of Dutch-related interests named Sander (Sanders? Zander?) with whom I had a nice chat about Airtime, Google+ (his preferred video chat method) and more. We took turns pressing various buttons to see what would happen. I got a little nervous when he suddenly left the room through a curtain, but it turns out he was working from home and just needed to sign for a package.
With Airtime, live camera feeds of each individual and their listed interests are shown in side by side boxes taking up most of the screen. There were also thumbnails of videos underneath, which appeared to be sponsored links or videos that the users had shared on Facebook recently. You can play a video and mute it while talking to your chat partner. There's also a mysterious starred button in the middle of the screen which supposedly lets you give your chat partner points or ratings (a little obligatory gamification). Sander and I said our goodbyes, and then I settled down to write this quick summary.
My next chat (conducted after I did add a few interests such as journalism and Boston Celtics) was with the VP of product from Wahooly, a company in Austin that works with startups and influencers. My chat partner and I were able to text chat in a side box on the bottom right, swapping website URLs and Twitter handles. I asked him a few questions regarding a story package we're planning, and he was helpful, and even chatted about the town where I live and he went to college. A good random meeting.
While I wasn't at the Airtime press conference Tuesday, I did read in the company's press release that although Airtime is intended to gussy up Facebook, it's even more intended to liven up the Internet: