Earlier this week I wrote a post about "Project Stargate" - our attempt at an "always on" telepresence solution between our DC & SF offices.
Justin Thorpe of Clearspring suggested I contact Rob Bailey at SimpleGeo after reading my post, because SimpleGeo has also implemented a Stargate type solution. So I did.
Rob was kind enough to show me SimpleGeo's implementation. And it rocks! They have an office in Boulder, CO & in San Francisco, CA.
Videos are coming showing the SimpleGeo implementation. There's a big opportunity here for a startup to solve this problem. There's no really good software solution out there for an "always on" type setup. If you're a soon-to-be-funded Y Combinator company, or definitely take a look at how you could solve this problem. What's missing is:
Anyone up to the challenge?
Here's video of Rob discussing the Skype Video Phone (he doesn't like it):
And here's video of the Stargate implementation that SimpleGeo uses:
If you are still working on this, what do you think about sending a periodic still image frame, rather than the blur? For example, a frame every x seconds. More thoughts along those lines as I also believe there is a huge difference between today's video and always-on video: http://goo.gl/b3jbR
UPDATES: Stargate is Live! | Also, see SimpleGeo's Implementation
We recently expanded PointAbout from its office in Washington DC, opening a new office for AppMakr in San Francisco (as an aside - interesting personal-interest story about the move here).
One problem with geographic separation is that the people in the other office are very abstract. You might see work coming from them in the form of code, releases, email, etc., but it's very hard for the actual people between offices to make a connection. And that inter-personal connection is very important to us as a company, so I set out to figure out a way to solve it.
My co-founder Sean aptly named this project "Project Stargate," after the science fiction Stargate movie in which shortcut paths to the Universe are opened up through a round, glowing portal (really wanna geek out? More details on Stargate here), so the name has stuck.
I'll be adding to this blog as we figure things out, and I'd really like to have your thoughts in the comments section below, especially if you've done any work to solve this problem (any Y Combinator startups out there working on this vexing issue?). Just to be clear, we all have AIM, or Gtalk, or Skype call & video chat abilities - that's not the problem. The problem is that to initiate a call or IM chat requires effort. And while it may be a very small, minimal amount of effort, nonetheless it's effort, which means that the magical moments where someone turns to another person and says "hey, I have an idea" or "can you look at this for me" are lost. And that's really, really significant. Since effort is required to establish a connection, the serendipitous connections are lost. That's what I'm trying to bring back through "Project Stargate".
Let's see how this goes. In the past, I primarily used Skype to just hop on, make a call, hop off. Having any instant messenger on while trying to work or concentrate is a bad idea. But I'm thinking I should have some open Skype time, and whoever can drop me a line if they like. I'm "sebastmarsh" on Skype. You can download Skype for free at Skype.com.
Also, feel free to drop me an email or an @message on Twitter if I can be of service sometime. Best,