Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Show HN: Kosmi – Hang out with friends and family online (kosmi.io)
494 points by hauxir on March 14, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 93 comments

Been developing this platform for over a year.

It allows you to create virtual rooms where you can chat with room members using webcam and microphone and run realtime apps that include:

- Screensharing(useful for e.g. Netflix)

- Cowatching video player

- SNES and NES Emulators

- Virtual cardtable

- Poker with Playmoney

- Quake 3 in-browser!

- Synced YouTube player

and many more coming.

Very cool. I'd love to work with you to bring interesting apps to it.

Also, not sure if you have put much effort into trying to synch YouTube very accurately (down to the 20th of a second or better), but if that is interesting or important to you, I've done a good bit of work with dealing with the inaccuracies of YouTube's timer via the API and I'd be glad to share my code as well as ideas for this. I've found I can get it very accurate by using a bit of smoothing combined with looking at the system time. (I haven't yet done cross-internet synching and dealing with latency, but I have a plan for it)

Sounds interesting :) send me an email, it's on the page!

I'll be in touch!

How does realtime screensharing with something like Netflix work? If it's actual screensharing, wouldn't it be super laggy and low quality? Do you somehow get each user to stream the exact same Netflix URL in the sense that it's not actually screensharing but rather there are just multiple clients (which sounds like it could be a legal problem...)?

Netflix is DRM'd anyway so it's a non-starter. Try taking a screenshot of a Netflix stream. Not many people realize it'll just result in black pixels for that area.

This reminds me of the old windows 98 times, where windows would just draw a blackish rectangle where the video should be and the graphics card would replace the pixels with actual video on-screen. If you hit the print button, you would just copy the windows graphic buffer with no video to be seen.

It got extra weird when you would paste the screenshot into paint with the video still playing. Suddenly you had a video playing inside paint and could even draw on it...

Aah, good old times :)


That still happens with certain hardware setups today, a similar concept to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chroma_key

Really? Because I just took these https://imgur.com/a/LvbVZtq

Which platform? It might also depend on the content, hmmm.

I'm not sure I should share my secrets now lol. But the answer is linux. I haven't tried screensharing before. But I have tried with other DRM stuff and it got blocked. So I wouldn't be surprised if this was a fluke. Definitely makes making memes easier though.

If the video quality is low enough then Netflix and co don't bother. It also varies on who is the content supplier, some are less fussed about protecting content that doesn't bring in much money.

I see black. Maybe the OP wasnt clear?

This is a joke btw, if you see it as anything else, go see a counsellor when this corona thing is over.

Sounds specific to windows? Definitely doesn't happen in MacOS or Linux

On Windows, I had no issue screenshotting (on Chrome) and no issue using OBS to record the screen that is displaying the Netflix content.

OpenArena! <3 It didn't work for me (something about the v6 address not resolving, and then a stream of 'connection reset by peer' msgs in the OA console; too bad it has to be in-browser and I can't just launch my native client) but I love that this is a thing, it's one of my favorite games ever.

Edit: NES games also don't work for me, I keep seeing "Load a ROM file to play a NES game!" but others in the room are playing. Firefox on Linux, this is. Can I register a ticket somewhere or are there debugging tips I could try myself?

I tried starting a room with the NES app and it told me to load a .nes file. However, the dialogue it launched was for photos (on my Android device). I don't think there's any way to select a .nes file from there.

Contact the support channel from the lobby.

I would love to know the legal implications of running a service where people are able to stream copyrighted content to others, or to share subscription services like Netflix in violation of its TOS.

This is like every other service that supports screen sharing, is it not?

Except that this service explicitly says it's for "watching movies or TV shows on Netflix together online."

justin.tv almost exclusively was for chatting/watching copyrighted videos/tv shows together online (later rebranded and sold for ~$1B as twitch.tv)

I thought services like this ran in a legal limbo because the end user can't select the content, much like radio.

Or like sitting at your friend's house while they pick some entertainment?

You mean just like email or web hosting? I can easily send you a "robbed" book in PDF format by mail. Is my MUA/MTA legally implied?

You released it at th3 right time.

I like that I don't need to register first.

I think that's a really nice concept, and quite possibly a good time to bring this to our notice whenever most of us are home bound. Do you plan on adding more features in the features?

I spend most of my free time on this. New features are added multiple times a week :)


I started a room, then started a video chat in it. Is there a way to do something else (e.g. play poker) without having to create a new room?

Ah to answer my own question. I wasn't logged in and created then left/rejoined and was no longer an admin.

Just what the doctor ordered, bless you sir.

Great time to launch it

Any chance synced mp4 playback is on the shortlist?

synced mp4 playback is already possible using the CoWatch app. You can sync a URL from either an htttps server or a Google Drive file.

This is cool, I'm especially interested in YouTube synching so I can share videos with my daughter when she is at her moms. Also so she can chat with her friends while school is canceled and they can watch stuff together. (hopefully being able to talk to each other too?)

I'm surprised I haven't seen this before (or if it's been around, it hasn't been more popular). In person you often show people videos and via podcasts I often hear people haphazardly trying to play videos simultaneously.

I created Togethr.TV in 2013 (https://togethr.tv). People can watch videos together and chat (text/audio) and some other features. It never took off much unfortunately. I didn't touch the code since some time already but it is still working fine, the site is currently having about 15k monthly users.

I was surprised that even public rooms require a request to join from the lobby page. Though I also know that direct room links do let you in to the channel which is what you'd be passing around to your friends.

And I was also surprised that when someone sends me a join request, it completely blots my screen out with a modal. Seems like this would be very annoying if you were actually running a channel. I think that needs some attention. For example, am I ruining someone's experience by constantly sending them join requests?

Online hangout was always a dream of mine ever since my friends and I used socks to tie the home phone around our heads so we could talk while playing Unreal Tournament online together. Always cool to see people trying to work on this.

Nice work! How are things working so far on iPads?

- "Create a room" should be actionable on the sidebar

- Don't know how niche this is these days, but I would love to see Freeze Tag supported in Arena: https://openarena.fandom.com/wiki/ModCompat/Ultra_Freeze

I was just reading about On-nomi (オン飲み) - drinking online. Was a Boing Boing post at https://boingboing.net/2020/03/13/on-nomi.html Perhaps this needs to be added for us mandatory-work-from-home people can have a beer later with co-workers.

This is great. Been looking for a way to create a "virtual water cooler" for our team as we move 40+ people remote. Does the room always exist, and people can hop in and out? What's the business model? IE how can we pay for the service/support the mission?

We've been using https://team.video for our calls and working sessions in rooms that we hop in and out

Oh yeah. And the room never closes, right?

No, it never closes because is a URL that you can always come back. We stay in there working for hours, sometimes with multiple screen sharing at the same time.

You can do this for free with the open source Jitsi project, use https://meet.jit.si or install your own.

The room is never destroyed unless you do that manually yourself

Love this! Especially the fact that you can launch an OpenArena server so easily! Played a lot of Quake 3 Arena during my college days. Hadn't heard of OpenArena before. Thanks!

EDIT: Is there a way to store and load a config file? Or have the binds stored permanently?

Thank you! Unfortunately the config file is not export/importable right now but I might add support for that later!

Reminds me of rabb.it. Very disappointed to see a link to Discord and lack of link to source. I was hoping this was going to be free software, but now I'm thinking it's unlikely. Playing OpenArena in the browser is an interesting idea.

Are you planning any features to help with online teaching (e.g. whiteboard support)?

Really timely question with so many school systems being closed down.

Cool idea especially for people living in different country than their families.

Will it remain free?

What is the privacy policy? Will my data (video/audio) be kept on the servers? I couldn't find such info in the website.

The video and audio is all p2p. It never touches our servers.

Text chat is kept on the server but you can permanently delete all your messages any time from your profile settings.

As for remaining free, I plan to keep the current featureset free!

Thank you man :)

Tried it now with a non-tech savvy person.

* Mobile version hid the chat and everything.

* It was not clear how to start video chat.

* Audio wasn't working at all, even after 10 minutes of trying to get it to work (permissions were granted). At this point I'm not sure if it's a feature or a bug.

* Half of the apps aren't available.

I'm sorry, but in the current state it is not usable for me, or anyone I know, at all. Compared to whereby, hangouts, etc I'm not sure which currently existing features it really offers that are better.

sorry to hear your bad experience. contact me on discord and I'll try to help you work out those issues!

I'm always disappointed when things like this aren't partially or fully open sourced.

Makes me wonder what the profit model is, and when the thing is going to die forever.

I'm impressed when I see people actually build something that they believe in, rather than just work for the man.

This looks to me like more than someone could build in their free time while they work for a soul sucking corporation. I mean, maybe, but it's not possible for everyone. I hope he or she figures out a way of making a living at it.

awesome work!

how are you funding this? what are the backend requirements on your part to run this site?

Looks slick, seems to work real well on mobile too. Good work!

I noticed when creating a private room there's no auth, would it be possible to have something simple even like a shared password so you need something more than just the link to join? Also would it be possible to make it request audio and/or video access by default when joining, rather than making it a user action?

What's wrong with a link and no password?

Seems like the rooms are meant to be fairly disposable, so any situation where you would normally "change the room password", you instead just change rooms.

I suggest removing the NES/SNES emulator part as it will cause Nintendo to send you a Cease and Desist letter. Or probably more.

If he's not hosting copyrighted ROMs himself, then it should be fine. Sony couldn't beat Bleem! in court:


Emulators live in a very grey legal territory.

They are the product of reverse engineering of proprietary schematics/designs/programs.

Great idea especially with a lot of people staying home in light of COVID-19. I've been considering ways to stay connected with friends and family now that I'm spending more time alone.

I've been considering doing regular Google Hangouts with open invites to make hanging out feel more spontaneous.

This is pretty cool - I'm wondering what like, makes it different than just having a zoom call or something on discord? I can tell it's different I just don't know how to articulate it and I'm curious how you'd differentiate it from other ways to hang out online?

Looks really cool!

I would say the difference lies in the ability to start interactive apps in addition to chatting/communicating

That deck of cards thing looks awesome. Probably good to use even if you are in the same physical room!

I really like the fact you don't need to signup to use it.

I've been hosting a YouTube trippy video room for 30 minutes now. My only suggestion is to kill the pop over modal every time somebody wants to join. Kills your ability to interact as the modal can pop up anytime

Should just let anyone pop in without the need to accept every individual person

I'm planning to add the ability to skip the need to request to join public rooms soon!

They're talking about how you, the room host, get an entire "user wants to join" modal that disrupts the whole UI every time someone wants to join the room. You should just add requests to the sidebar or something, not use a modal.

This is very cool! Tried it now with my friends. The main complaint is that a grid view would be better than vertical (or horizontal) bars. Also would be nice to have done indication which anonymous animal is which video. Thanks for this!

I noticed your contact is in a discord channel and my first thought was how this is differentiated from discord. If people are actually contacting you on discord and this is "installation free", why not make that contact via your own service?

Good point. the only reason i list discord as a contact is because my platform doesn't offer private messages yet.

For anything that doesn't need to be private you can simply ask around on the public chat on the platform :)

Thanks. This looks cool.

A question: when trying to play SNES games, it requires an .sfc file. This is for japanese games for the SNES.

Is is possible to make it run .smc files ? those are american versions, much easier to find, with english text by default.

SFC and SMC files are usually identical. It’s just a different choice in file extension.

“SMC” comes from Super MagiCom, a floppy-based cart copying device for backup/piracy. The original .smc files produced by the device contained a 512 byte header. Since it’s pretty easy to detect and ignore most emulators do. If not, it’s easily removed.

Because .smc is in reference to effectively a piracy device, the new preferred file extension is .sfc and has been for a while now.

(In case it is not obvious, the file format is nominally just a raw dump of the ROM on the cartridge with no added headers.)

(Note 2: if you are looking for a way to run homebrew/patches/etc on a real SNES/SFC nowadays, sd2snes is probably the absolute best option.)

You can open up the two files in a Hex editor. If there's any differences it'll only be in the header which is a quick fix.

smc files work too :)

That's a really bad name for the Arab world :P

What does it mean?

I was going to comment the same - definitely not going to be watching movies with the family on this site :D

What is the meaning behind the name?

It's bit funny - "kosmi" means "hair" (plural) in bulgarian, actually bodyhair. Just sayin ;)

Great tool; watched videos with a couple pals who haven't been in the same room together for a decade!

Do you host your own server for brokering connections between users? How do you manage it?

We tried this tonight for some Jackbox games and it worked great. Thanks so much!


On an iPad screen sharing did not work for me. Not that is was expecting that it would.

Vel gert, til hamingju! / Well done, congratulations!


Seems like a lite, streamlined Second Life to me.

Are you utilising webrtc to achieve this?

Reminds me of The Sierra Network.

this could get extremely popular as a rabb.it replacement

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact