February 5, 2016

Finnish startup Zyptonite brings privacy to video calls

Zyptonite is a new video call and messaging service that promises high quality video, sound, reliability and total privacy.
Zyptonite is a new video call and messaging service that promises high quality video, sound, reliability and total privacy.
Zyptonite

Born out of frustration with unreliable, insecure video calling services, Zyptonite believes it has found a better way.

Keeping touch with family and friends abroad has never been easier. Unfortunately it also often goes hand-in-hand with pixelated video image and muffled sound. These are exactly the issues new technology startup Zyptonite promises to put to rest.

Zyptonite is the first real-time communications app that connects parties directly,” says Antti Uusiheimala, co-founder and CEO of Zyptonite. “People need a simple, reliable and free video call and messenger service that works on different devices and operating systems without problems.”

On the surface Zyptonite offers the same features as many similar internet-based services, but it is what is under the hood which sets the app apart. Typically, Internet calls travel through servers in a data centre before reaching the recipient in the other end, but Zyptonite has simplified this process. The startup cut out the server and built its service on peer-to-peer (P2P) technology, which is more familiar to most from file sharing services.

“There is no server or anything between [those who are talking]. The data comes straight from my device to your device and if we both use a computer, it comes from my browser to your browser and we do not need to install any software,” explains Uusiheimala.

According to Uusiheimala and his fellow Zyptonite co-founder, Finnish security expert Harri Hursti, this makes the connection not only more reliable but also improves quality and security even in areas of weaker networks. In fact Zyptonite will automatically resume a call even if the internet connection drops, removing the need to redial.

Focus on privacy

Zyptonite uses peer-to-peer technology where data is not stored. The startup believes this will appeal not only to anyone worried about their own privacy, but to professionals dealing with sensitive information.

Zyptonite uses peer-to-peer technology where data is not stored. The startup believes this will appeal not only to anyone worried about their own privacy, but to professionals dealing with sensitive information.

Zyptonite

It might sound risky to go against global tech giants such as the Microsoft-owned Skype and Google Hangouts, but Zyptonite is confident it has the right aces up its sleeve. In addition to improved connectivity, video and sound quality the startup also promises to offer greater levels of privacy. Since the data only moves between the sender and the receiver, it is not saved anywhere. In practice this means there is no risk of someone being able to access or steal the data.

“It is the same thing as we would experience talking face to face. After the words have been said, they do not exist anywhere else,” says Uusiheimala. “I do not have to trust a service provider to keep my data secure or not to share it with anyone, because it is not saved anywhere.”

Consequently Zyptonite is not only targeted at consumers looking for better quality for their video calls, but at anyone concerned about their privacy. Uusiheimala particularly highlights companies and professionals handling sensitive information, including doctors, lawyers and journalists.

This lack of data collection also means Zyptonite cannot charge for its service on a usage basis or sell targeted advertising. Therefore the basic service is free and the startup is working on introducing premium features, such as instant transfer of large files, which could be unlocked for a fee.

Giving users what they want

Zyptonite has grown quickly. A year ago the service was barely an idea, but now it has hit public beta with a browser client and Android app while an iOS app is due to follow shortly. Meanwhile Zyptonite has expanded its team to 12 members split between Helsinki and New York.

 I do not have to trust a service provider to keep my data secure or not to share it with anyone, because it is not saved anywhere.

“We have four people in Finland who are in charge of development. We are hiring at least one more developer there, maybe more,” says Uusiheimala who has split his time between Finland and the US for the last 15 years.

Zyptonite has also raised nearly 400 000 euros of private funding to support its launch in the US and other English language markets. Plans for other language versions are in the pipeline, but for now the company’s focus remains on making a service people like and want to use.

In a world where major data breaches, government snooping and cyber attacks have become everyday news, Zyptonite certainly has the potential to catch the imagination.

“We aim to bring back people’s trust on privacy, it is still possible,” Uusiheimala concludes.

Text: Eeva Haaramo

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