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Chatmosphere (chatmosphere.cc)
78 points by tosh on Jan 20, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 20 comments

This is always funny. I, and everyone else in the world, had the same idea during covid. I never built mine, but I did put together this spreadsheet of competitors. There are around 50 separate projects doing the same thing: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1R5DXWtz4H7eIT5VbGYJE...

I cleaned up this list by category and added descriptions to every site: https://github.com/billmei/every-proximity-chat-app

(Originally I replied to your previous comment with lots more sites as a raw list here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25664862 )

Having done a census of all of them – which do you think is the best?

I was inspired by this post to reactivate my:


Feel free to add to the list.

Don't forget igloo.chat Afaik its the only one that lets you be a crab in the office from The Office :).

We could start a VC fund out of this! without the money ^^

Interesting. I coded a prototype like this with a few friends after we saw gather.town. We decided to focus on language learning communities because that is an area where people are already using online platforms to meet strangers. (We also thought about dating usecases.) We've since abandoned the concept to pursue other ideas, but here are some thoughts:

1. Current platforms don't recreate the experience of mingling that you have in real-life. In real-life you can be doing one thing (getting coffee from the kitchenette) and overhear an ongoing conversation which you then decide to join. Is it possible to recreate that serendipity online? (We thought about running speech-to-text on all conversations and showing them in bubbles in the ui so that you could see what other people are talking about before you join the conversation.)

2. People want to express themselves in ways other than speech. In the real world you do that via your clothing, the stickers you put on your laptop, the look on your face, etc. How can you recreate that in a digital world? Should you let people "vandalize" the room by drawing on it?

3. Is this something that people will have on throughout the day to hang out with friends? Is it something you use only at a time scheduled in advance?

4. I play chess online with friends and anecdotally many other people have started doing that in the past year for obvious reasons. Can you embed those types of experiences in Chatmosphere so that I can hang out with friends and do actual activities with them where other people can drop in/out of observing? (The same applies to watching youtube videos together, playing video games, etc.) Gather.town is trying to do this, but I didn't like their implementation when I last checked it. Bunch is also in this space, obviously.

5. There are a LOT of competitors in this space. (Mozilla Hubs, Rambly, Tengable, Calla, High Fidelity, Teamflow, Movement, Sococo, etc.) What is unique about your solution?

I've thought about this a lot (and coded a small poc) so I would be happy to chat in more detail if it helps you. (I'm no longer pursuing this myself.)

I really like the idea of showing bubbles with text that gives a peek of conversations other folks are having. I just realized that to "eavesdrop" conversations before deciding to join or not is one of things that I miss most while working remotely.

Imagine remote working as a sims-like game, where you map everything into the virtual environment, e.g., sit in your spot and code for an hour, where you occasionally can peek the text bubble of nearby colleagues; you take a break and go to the kitchen and meet people there; you walk to somebody's spot for a conversation ...

That would make remote working a lot of fun.

The problem with that for me is I don't get up and go to the kitchen to talk to people -- I get up and go to the kitchen to {heat up lunch, make coffee, get a glass of water} -- and a serendipitous conversation happens as part of that. That sort of guiding activity makes the conversation lower-stakes, if it lulls you can focus on your pour-over or whatever, and it's timeboxed by the length of kitchen activity more or less, letting you get out of a conversation politely if you want. A virtual kitchen doesn't have that -- if I'm getting lunch I'm going to be in my IRL kitchen, not in the virtual one, and I'll be talking to my wife, not someone from the office. That means if I go to the virtual kitchen it will be expressly for the purpose of talking, and it's no longer a serendipitous conversation, and the dynamics become more akin to a language learning conversation group where you go to talk to people, and everyone knows how awkward those can be. (You could maybe more charitably compare it to meeting up at a bar as the OP does, but you only go to a bar to talk with people you're already close to, and getting close to people tends to happen first through repeated, unplanned serendipitous conversation. So these tools work OK for friends to keep in touch, but in my experience onboarding during COVID, not at all to get closer to coworkers.)

Exactly what I had in mind. The ability to eavesdrop + the ability to see who is open to chatting and taking a break.

With respect to #4 - have you tried Tabletop Simulator on Steam? You can play chess (or just about any table game) with voice chat and allow people can drop in and out to observe and chat. You can set it to friends only or open it to anyone. I suppose you could even have several pairs playing different games at the same time on the same table.

> Gather.town is trying to do this, but I didn't like their implementation when I last checked it.

AFAIK they embed games / etc. in an iframe. What didn't you like about that?

The implementation was buggy and the interaction between the virtual world and games was unintuitive. A better interface would seemlessly embed the games into the virtual world (perhaps inside a "picture frame" or "portal"). This isn't an aesthetic complaint. It would mean that spectators could walk by and see what is going on in the games - just like peeking around a space in real life.

I coded a similar prototype during covid and predicted we are going to see a lot more of this now that WebRTC is pretty universal, and also that people are comfortable with the concept due to Zoom and others being everywhere.

I did a virtual pub crawl based on the 12 pubs in the movie The World's End, and it was a lot of fun. We had a really good time.

What I'm curious to see are the more creative uses of this. Yes, we can make virtual rooms and connect people in a common way, but it seems like there needs to be some creative brainstorming around new was to organize and interact. I would love to join with others to explore these concepts.

Cool. The volume proximity logic should be tweaked a bit so you can still see people's videos without lowering the audio. As it stands, seems like you have to overlap for full volume.

Maybe some kind of clustering logic where an entire group can be equal audio? Similar to creating a folder from two apps on ios/android home screen.

I didn't know the demo will join you into a room with random people :D

Yeah, I just want to see what the heck this is without going on cam...

I also think that replacing the video feed with an avatar (upload or choose) would make it even better.

One of my favorite features of Clubhouse is lack of video. That said, afaiu Chatmosphere is an open source project so I guess it would be easy to add as functionality if no-video isn't already configurable somehow.

> replacing the video feed with an avatar (upload or choose) > favorite features of Clubhouse is lack of video

Would be awesome if virtual space had both custom cam and custom mic features.

This re-routing around a genuine problem is sad to me. I think it is the unstated acceptance that the 'new normal' is in fact here to stay.

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