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Quick Pitch: VHX.tv helps discover, share and watch video from around the web in one spot.
Genius Idea: Creating a hands-free viewing experience that automatically plays one video after the next.
VHX co-founders Jamie Wilkinson and Casey Pugh are no strangers to web video. Wilkinson, also the co-founder of Know Your Meme, was the primary developer for online video aggregator Magma. Pugh spent time as a developer at Vimeo. And together they and a team created a crowdsourced movie, Star Wars Uncut, that won an Emmy for outstanding achievement in interactive media last year.
In November, the co-founders decided to combine what they had learned by working in web video to design their ideal web watching product. The result, which launched in private beta yesterday, is something like a combination of Twitter, Instapaper, and Last.fm for video.
Like Instapaper, the VHX.tv site offers a bookmarklet that easily collects content from around the web in one queue for later viewing. This is how video from different platforms — YouTube and Vimeo for now, but more to come — gets dumped into VHX.tv.
Originally Wilkinson and Pugh started on a product that focused on this concept.
“About a week in, I realized that my queue was a very lonely place and I wanted to look at Casey’s view,” Wilkinson says.
Hence, the team created the Twitter aspect of VHX.tv. Like the microblog, users can follow other users on VHX.tv in order to see the videos they add to the system (when you log in the first time, you automatically follow a default staff account). Like Twitter, users can add notes to the video that they collect, and their contributions to followers’ dashboard feeds are marked with their avatars.
There’s also a history tab that allows users to keep track of what they’ve watched on VHX.tv. Installing a Firefox add-on extends this history to video watched all over the web, much like Last.fm does for music.
You would think that putting all of these functions in one place would create a cluttered interface, but the app is actually pretty slick. All of the feeds — history, dashboard and queue — are contained in a single left pane. The video takes up most of the screen, and the app looks more like a television screen than a video website. That’s what its creators were going for.
“The really special part of TV that we’ve all neglected on the web is that when one thing is over, another thing just starts playing,” Wilkinson says.
VHX.tv, like television, is a hands-free way to watch video. The site starts playing video from whatever channel (friend recommendation, history or queue) you select right when you hit the site and continues to play video after video without interruption. No need to search for the next video or click to play it.
The startup is working on packaging a similar experience into an iPhone, iPad, and Boxee app before it works on a business model.
While it might be difficult to squeeze another major player between YouTube and Vimeo in the space for video uploading platforms, there’s a need to filter the massive amount of content from these sites into one digestible channel that has yet to be dominated. We think VHX has a fair shot.
Check out the demo video below, starting Wilkinson’s wife Irene and their daughter (in the backpack), and let us know if you agree.