Video Call App Ustyme to Giveaway Free "FaceTime" Chats with Santa


Waiting in line to meet Santa Claus can be an overwhelming event. The nervous sweating, the obnoxious temper tantrums and the uncontrollable crying are all an implicit part of your experience. And most of that's just you. So when a company like ustyme (prounced “us-time”) presents us with an opportunity to visit with the jolly man himself without the hustle and bustle of the mall during the busiest time of the year, than it’s hard (once again) for us to keep calm.

The Sausalito-based free video calling service will select a few well-behaved children the opportunity to have a real-time video conversation with Santa and read the classic holiday tale “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” And during your extra time with Santa, you can ask him questions, share your favorite holiday stories and even read off your secret wish list. 

“Christmas is such a special time for children, and we wanted to bring the magic of the season to life for them, in a truly memorable experience with Santa,” said Ustyme CEO and co-founder Linda Salesky. “There aren’t many ways to communicate directly with Santa – except, of course, waiting in line to get just a minute or two with the jolly man. By offering an Ustyme video call with Santa, children are able to have a personal, one-on-one interaction to share a classic holiday story...”

To participate, it’s pretty simple. All you need to do is download the ustyme app (which is available for the iPad v2 or newer), create an account and add Santa as a friend. Once you’ve done all that, winners will receive an email from Santa’s Chief Elf (if it wasn’t adorable enough) asking to schedule a 10-minute call from Santa. Time slots will be available between Dec. 21-23 from 9 a.m. to noon.

As for the potential of ustyme, it’s tough to say how successful it will be. Video calling services like Skype and FaceTime already have a stranglehold on the competition. But the company hopes it can fill a void between those typically stale, somewhat uncomfortable video chats by introducing activities to make for a richer experience between children and adults. People can even pick from a library of 5o books and games including checkers, chess, Old MacDonald and The Three Little Pigs. And what we're left with is a lot more charishable time with our loved ones. 

“FaceTime and Skype a terrific video call alternative for the phone, but they simply lack the content that engages children in an activity that makes the call fun,” said Salesky, who’s a parent and grandmother herself. “The average call with a child is a minute or two asking questions or making faces. In ustyme, the books and games create a natural and enjoyable focus that makes the time on the call fun for all and leads to natural conversations and laughter. It’s not uncommon for families to enjoy 20- to 30-minute calls that include a book or two and few rounds of a game.”

Follow @nicktrenchard to learn more about the latest in Bay Area tech

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