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".
In a world where to the untrained eye the top two devices in the smartphone sector Android and iPhone are pretty much similar with the columns and rows of icon's and pretty much the same apps. The industry needed a shake up as the two pioneers slowly go from innovative to consumer and that has come with another big hitter Microsoft.
Microsoft's tack record is interesting in the PDA/Smartphone space for years it tussled with Palm in a David and Goliath like battle between innovation at Palm and pure corporate might at Microsoft. Ironically the complacency Apple and Google find themselves unwittingly sliding into is the same malaise which Palm and Microsoft found themselves in when Apple blew a gaping hole in the who marketplace with the iPhone.
Microsoft dipped its toe back in the water with a radical new UI design with Windows Phone 7, and in the process alienated many people when it shipped Windows Phone 8 not as an update but a new revolution of the interface.
That hiccup aside, what Microsoft have done with WP8 is not just show the world "another way" of interacting with a phone, smart tiles, resizeable icons and solid hardware which has taken its share of time to get a hold, they have also shown that the "cottage industry" style of apps. Developers creating apps to interface with the Big Players such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter for example are putting out apps which are actually proving to be better than the apps these vendors themselves put out.