work /
ux design
product management

The very first video walkie talkie for desktop.

context /

Place Pixel - 2017

team /

Alex Padalko - Frontend Dev

Matt Oconnor - Backend Dev

Scott Liang - UX, UI, PM, CEO

Give Roger a try!

1.0 Intro

Roger is the very first push-to-video talk solution for your Mac (think: a video walkie talkie). Roger started with a simple premise: How close can you get to working side by side, without actually having to work side by side?

No arms were harmed in the making of this gif

We found that we encountered a number of problems when working remotely:

  1. We lost the speed and fidelity of talking face-to-face
  2. Skype and Hangouts had too much friction to use regularly
  3. We ended up using Slack and e-mail for ordinary (informal) chatter that was best just spoken

Some examples of informal chatter include "Where did you say the assets were again?" and "Hey, I just hopped off a call with Mike, just letting you know that..." Each time we did this, we dealt with the natural annoyances of the app (like typing and managing unreads) and filled our #channels / inboxes with meaningless noise. Thus we needed a clean separation of formal and informal communication:

Skype had the high fidelity (video) we wanted, but not the speed. Generally, setting up a Skype session involved scheduling a call, dialing and ringing, answering, and engaging in a formal video call. This was too much friction for spontaneous use.

2.0 Roger

We endeavored for Roger to have the following qualities:

  1. As close to face to face-as-possible—no misunderstandings through text
  2. Always present yet non-intrusive
  3. Fluid, free, low-friction talking
  4. Privacy friendly, unlike Amazon Echo and Sqwiggle

2.1  Tap on the Shoulder

Every face-to-face talk is preceded by a brief wave or tap on the shoulder. Clicking on an emoji sends an instant "emote" to your colleague. We were thrilled to see how users adopted these emotes for their own purposes, such as getting attention and sending affirmatives / negatives.


2.2  Push to Video Talk

My desktop is on the left. To communicate with Michelle, I simply hold down on her bubble and start talking. My video feed will instantly appear in the corner of her screen. (The hold feature is there to prevent unintended activations—once connected, I am free to let go.)


2.2 Quick reply

To reply, Michelle just clicks on my video. Notice her privacy is not affected unless she opts in.


2.3  Group Calls

One of the most common pain points our users reported was the the inability to engage a third person without ending the current call. Group calling with a push-to-video call interaction, however, had never been done before (at least, not to our knowledge). It was a great challenge to keep the interaction simple, consistent, and technically feasible.

Ideating group calling

We eventually decided on the ability to add one additional user (which accounted for the majority of use cases) by using the same push-to-talk feature originally implemented. In this case, I call Alex while still talking with Michelle. Michelle is then made aware that I am speaking to Alex, and can call him to complete the three-way connection.


Since it's intended to be always-present, Roger is designed as non-obtrusive menubar app. Here / busy states can be toggled rather than closing the app and the bubble can be hidden when not in use.

3.0 Onboarding

Roger's interaction paradigm has never been seen on desktop before. As a result, we needed to make the onboarding process as engaging and informative as possible.

3.1  Tutorial

Roger first gets your attention with a profound fusion between Drake and pugs. You're then taught the call process through an interactive tutorial (we are huge fans of this approach).


3.2  Empty state

A natural problem with communication apps is the "dead zone" between first launch and adding your first contact. We sought to combat this by providing Roger himself as a first connection. He not only lets you practice the push-to-talk feature, but also gives you a random puppy gif each time you call him. That's right—instant, on-demand puppy gifs.


4.0 Response

A few snippets of feedback from real users:

I expected a regular video chatting service. Expected to be able to call my friends, however when I saw that this worked more as a walkie talkie I was super excited as it is so different and fun ... I tend to click on the little emoji face on the pop-up bubble and send the hand emoji to my friend. My friend then realizes I am trying to talk to her so then she goes online and we start video talking. We can talk for hours and I can multi task at the same time as the chat doesn’t close and is a small rectangle in the corner. - Luisa

I would say it’s a different use case than your traditional video chat platforms. But the first time I used it, I was surprised by how it “just works”. I love products that are like this. - Lawrence

I am part of a small team of web developers (4 members). We’re not always in the same location (or country for that matter) so we use Roger as a method of increasing the speed of internal communications. Very simple, very effective app, working well for us at the moment. - Chris

As a student in Graphic Design I team up with a friend from me to design websites, he develops them. With Roger we quickly communicate without a hassle ... We used to call via Messenger or Skype but Roger is faster and we can quit calling after a few seconds. We just say what we need to say about the project. - Laurens

I have two very close friends who I went to college with. Now that we live all around the world, it’s hard to do quick face-to-face convos (FaceTime is such a ‘commitment’), but Roger allows us to quickly communicate on something and hang up without feeling committed to a long conversation. - Westin

Give Roger a try!