Since the shelter-in-place orders started rolling out in the US I've had the opportunity to attend remote happy hours and larger remote social events. During those video calls I found that oftentimes the conversation felt a little out of cadence or stilted because there would be a greater number of people in the same room than could have a comfortable conversation at any given time.
I struggle enough with social events that it's important to me to have as fluid and comfortable a conversation as possible...especially when remote. To me, part of that includes trying to avoid too many people speaking at the same time which can cause confusion and annoyance. Having 20 people all try to join the same casual conversation over video usually means someone is left out and unheard.
I wanted to create a way to get a little closer to the small-group experience we might find in-person where people naturally break off into small groups and chat and then move on. Zoom has breakout rooms but it's aimed closer to the enterprise, and if there are security concerns it can be nice to have an alternative that doesn't require installation or advanced permissions.
To that end, Mixaba is a small project that I proof-of-concepted that first weekend of our local shelter-in-place orders. One person creates a "party" and can optionally change the shuffle duration, room occupancy, and a secret code. They then share that link to as many of their friends or co-workers as they choose. Anyone who has the link (and optional secret code) can join the party without creating an account. As soon as people start joining a timer starts and based on the party configuration the participants will shuffle at the end of the timer and it starts again!
I've been refining the product and we've been using it at work for happy hours and lunches, and even family Easter get togethers. It's currently only on the web and has support across Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Edge. Phone support is experimental but it works pretty well on both iOS and Android. I'd love to see it turn into a mobile app as well for even better support.
It's free and there's no account needed to join a party, no desktop app download, and no 50 person limit. I'd love to get some feedback on whether you would find this useful or if there are any general comments or concerns!
Here's my previous post on HackerNews: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23045293 and a comment on a quarantine side project post: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23182747.
Where video can start getting really expensive is, as you said, when you're centrally hosting/processing/streaming large amounts of it. For this use-case there's a good chance they don't end up touching the video streams themselves at all, which is really cool.
At cloud pricing you'll be paying $100/TB, but there are plenty of alternative providers that can give you great deals. Hetzner for instance charges $1/TB for their VPS solution.
You can also cut back on video detail depending on the project - you don't need to send 720p streams for something a bit more experimental or with other things happening.
Combined that's low enough that ads should easily cover the bandwidth.
Also -- what did you use for the video chat component? I'm assuming you incorporated some existing software/service?
I also figured it'd be easier to add features like self-sorting later on after I proved out the random mixing idea.
I mentioned it in the other comment but yes, I'm using Twilio's Programmable Video API https://www.twilio.com/docs/video
Sounds similar to what Twilio offers, but at about 1/6th the price -- might be worth a look if costs are a concern...
I love the idea of the random mixing! I have the same thing happen where once I find a group I just stay there, even if I want to try meeting more people
Thanks! It's definitely a struggle of mine. It's more comfortable to stick with a group that you're already accepted into than go try to get accepted again.
In my case, I let people create groups ("tables") on the fly and hop between them at will, rather than forced mixing. There's a list along the side that shows which people are at each group. Groups with fewer people sort to the top, to encourage people to join those.
I built on top of Jitsi and the meet.jit.si public servers for video chat. The quality hasn't been as good as something like Zoom, but I love how easy it is to embed and customize!
It's amazing to me how many people had this idea, and that it seemed not to exist before. I am curious how far we can go to make video chat feel as good as in-person socializing.
I'm in a student club and we have our own Jitsi instance so we will probably run it on our own infrastructure.
Do you have any plans for a "random" feature? If not would you be open for pull requests?
I'll have to take a look at Jitsi – I've been using Twilio's Programmable Video API.
My team/org (20-ish people) has a Friday end of week social- even when we're all remote. Going to see if they want to try this instead of our usual 'taking turns talking while shy people say nothing'.
My feedback would be: add a demo or something. Let me see what you're pitching before I go to the trouble of creating an account. Just a video of clicking around in the UI for a few minutes would do the trick.
Allow two participant types, with separate links to join the same event, and then add the ability to (best effort) match type 1s with type 2s.
So you could use it for (straight) dating, where the types are male and female, or mentoring/office hours where the types are mentor or mentee, or investor or investee, or like “meet an American” where the type a is American and type b is not, etc, etc, etc..
I also assume it tracks who has already been with who and doesn’t match them up again as long as there are other new people left?
Has anyone seen the spatial audio only https://www.highfidelity.com/ too?
I'm looking at both of these this week.
My thinking is that you should be able to control where you go and which group you stand in.
The key challange for your product is not technical, but go to market strategy. How users might discover your app?
A potential area of opportunity is around meetups.