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Show HN: Pluto – In-browser spatial video chat (pluto.video)
129 points by eladgil 38 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 64 comments



Excited to share a side project I have been working on with my friends at Fluxon (Erad and AJ (@lasersox)) and Katsuya Noguchi (@katsuyan).

We got sick of all the Zoom happy hours, birthday parties, and company get togethers. In parallel, serendipity largely died - you could no longer run into a friend or co-worker or interesting new person given social distancing.

So, we put together Pluto - built on webRTC with MediaSoup and webGL with THREE.js and many other technologies.

Pluto is a browser-only VR space (no headsets needed) for spacial video chats and hangouts. You can move around in using first-person shooter-like controls. Sound decays with distance so different groups can break up and hang out.

Just drop in a link, and you can attend an event over video (no headset, no nothing). Create a virtual world in just one click!

Everything is represented in 3D which means people can randomly run into each other and serendipity can finally happen again.

We have built out a number of worlds using Blender to construct 3D models of : -Burning Man -The Maldives -Admont Abbey Library -A room in old Austria.

You can go to https://pluto.video to try it in your own VR in-browser world. It is best tried out with friends but can also be fun to explore the virtual world solo.

Come check it out and let us all know what you think!

It is still early / janky but we wanted to get it out there and get some feedback :)

We will be hanging out at an instance from 11am to 1:30pm PT at https://team.pluto.video.

Pluto was partially inspired in part by new social experiments on the web like Clubhouse, Gatherly, Rally, Rambly, Sonar, Teamflow, Yorb and others....


VR space (no headsets needed)

I’m confused. Does it work with a headset? The mobile site isn’t clear on this. I have an Oculus Quest, and for a moment I got excited to see a browser-based VR chat app (the Firefox Reality browser has good VR plugin support). If it doesn’t work with headsets at all, then in my view VR is a misleading adjective.


No headset needed. It works best on a laptop or desktop with keyboard right now versus mobile


Does it work with a VR headset?


I believe it does not and "VR" is a misnomer here. It's all pancake stuff with just WebGL.

From a quick glance there seem to be no WebVR/WebXR support in there (nothing checks for VR hardware and the minified JS doesn't seem to have any obvious API references).


Also, it couldn't really be true/personal video chat, unless an avatar, or a video stream of a person wearing an HMD, would be acceptable.



I thought this was a pivot to WebXR for them or something at first.


It looks pretty great, congrats. A way to ping my location so they can find me would be nice. Very smooth on my 4 year old mobile android


Is it just me, or there is no way to log in without a Google account?


Amazing! Excited for the launch!


Thanks! Let me know if you have any feedback.



Is this surprising given who posted?


Who posted?


please also email dang those links if you haven't already.


The notion that you’re live on video with others in the virtual space (instead of say, representing yourself with an avatar) creates such a surprisingly special experience. In this way, I think Pluto subtly and beautifully mirrors what real world interaction actually feels like. Excited to see where this project goes!


Agreed. I really dislike avatar-only interaction. Tried it recently with a Quest and it's hard to read who you're talking with, or recognize a face you've met in person.

Combining video of the face mapped onto a virtual space really seems like the winning combo - there are a few groups doing this and it's the only thing I want to nudge my professional contacts to try out.


> it's hard to read who you're talking with

Take that as a small glimpse of what it's like to be on the autism spectrum.


We tried similar service in concept, called Teamflow. I manage a team of 12 people and thought it would be great to create serendipitous connections. It was fun the first couple of days. Lot of improptu conversations happened. Within 4 days, novelty effect wore off and I was all alone there.

I think the main problem around adopting such tech is that, existing workflows and habit loops are pretty mature (though not ideal). Zoom / hangout meetings, chat on slack etc. Because of that, it's hard to 'remember' to login to such virtual office spaces that would enable those convos.

I want to hear if there are teams that were able to adopt successfully and what level of early enforcement was required to create that habit loop (i personally hate such enforcement, but might not avoidable).


i would hate this for a workspace. i would have to actually "be" there.

i would love this for use with my friends. we would get to "be" there.


I'm a big fan of spatial audio and I think this is really cool. I like that it doesn't make me use my mouse too much which makes it way easier to use on a laptop with trackpad.

It would be nice if there were alternatives to login besides Google (like email?).


yeah can we not login with google


I had a lot of fun using this to catch up with some colleagues I haven't seen in a while. Very cool!

I have some feedback: It would be cool to have some really interesting sculpture art to sort of seed groups of people talking in the museum level. I'm specifically requesting like a mutating 3d fractal sculpture that might invite people to gather. Or a campfire. I thought that having all the different worlds is cool but if everyone is in one location and you're in a different world it's easy to get isolated. Along the same lines, it would be cool if the size of the level sort of scaled with the size of the group in some way.


It's really confusing to call this VR.


Thanks for the feedback. We will move away from calling it VR in the future and more about "spatial reality" or "spatial video" most likely


"Spacial imersion"

"Spacial Presence"


Spatial*


Like calling 3d graphics "3d" when it's only displayed on a flat screen? :)


Well yes but that ship has sailed. We have to add "stereoscopic" on to disambiguiate that one now.


Pluto is the only place I randomly bumped into someone in the last 12 months!


I gave it a shot and it was the closest I had felt to being at a party since covid. I usually bounce around at parties IRL and no other virtual experience had given me that ability so far.


This was a really fun experience. If you're organizing a 16+ person happy hour it's a great way to organically let the group split into smaller conversations.


Is there a library/service out there that makes it really easy to make these? I have seen like 50 or so such apps crop up recently


WebRTC itself makes videoconferencing platform incredibly easy to make (you can even just copy-past a working tutorial!). Three.js[1] makes the 3D-world part quite easy as well, then howler.js[1] does the spacial audio for you. Tada! you have your Pluto clone in a few days!

(the open-source JavaScript ecosystem is pretty impressive)

[1]https://threejs.org/

[2]https://howlerjs.com/


Brilliant innovation on the spatial audio. I love the barriers and proximity cliffs. A bit hard to find a specific someone.

It's like a frictionless, lightweight second-life. Congrats. Now we can have true house parties online.


This is one of the best implementations I have seen thus far. The fact you can go "outside" reminds me of Second Life and its unfortunate most other ventures didn't capitalize on this.


Cool project. Looking forward to trying it out with more people.

Why the name Pluto? I feel like I've run into quite a few projects sharing the name. Are you going for something related to the underworld?


Just looking for something space related :)


Ha well the use of 'portals' to warp between spaces (eg, burning man!) definitely felt like "entering the underworld". This definitely had a second-life-in-a-browser vibe. I know a few artists that would love to hold virtual gallery tours in a set up like this.

(also, pluto+video made me think of pluto.tv - a live tv app)


I really like the idea of this. If we could have some decent customisation I'd love to bring my team over to this when it launches. Awesome!


Tried the demo, very cool not-VR spatial video chat!


10/10 idea & execution. 1/10 logo seems a bit... too similar to Apollo GraphQL. Down to the font selection?


Yeah we changed names a week or two ago and the logo has not caught up yet :)


Pluto is great. It captures the serendipity (and awkwardness) of in-person events pretty well :)


Thanks! We view awkwardness as a good sign - it means we are hopefully capturing a part of real social interactions :)


Somebody showHN'd pop.com a few weeks back and it had a similar vibe.


Looks pretty good! Request CS 1.6 dust map there =)


i love the burning man room! super cool. also try jumping and changing the sound radius


This is just commercialized Yorb


Yorb was definitely one of the inspirations! Aidan is awesome and he attended one of the events we had.


it looks like a straight up clone


love all the different virtual worlds!


Thanks! Let me know if any new requested spaces


King Kai's planet pls


Super exciting!!


[flagged]


It's fine to make an objection to what you feel is an accurate claim, but going straight to "lies" and "scammy company" is way too aggressive for a case like this. Would you mind reviewing https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html? They include:

"Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith."


got it. I will start flagging any comment that in puts down a company with comments like "company X is toxic/scammy/lying/dicks" etc.... Lots of those all over.


Hmm, I did not mean to abuse the term "VR". The original usage is much broader than just "put on a headset" immersive VR. For example, text-only MUDs & MUSHes

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_reality

and

https://www.howtogeek.com/661428/text-based-vr-explore-the-p...

However, given how strongly people feel about the term, happy to use something different in the future to avoid ambiguity. E.g. "Virtual spaces" or "Spatial video".

Really the intention was to simulate aspects of the real world and in particular to virtualize human interactions in an online space.

Thanks for pointing this out.


This is easily fixed - the title doesn't need "VR" in it and in fact reads better without it, so I just took it out.

(Submitted title was 'Show HN: Pluto in-browser VR spatial video chat'.)


Thanks for the fix! I also changed the title of my blog to remove "VR".

Too bad Twitter still doesnt have editable tweets :/


I have spent my evening on Pluto. It's a great product! I run a 80 people startup and I have been looking for ways to restore serendipity. I tried several products notably Altspace VR, Mozilla Hubs, Teamflow and Decentraland

Reasons I prefer Pluto to other products

- Easy to sign-in - Faster to load - Doesn't lag - See my friends' face (killer feature versus an avatar) - Spacial video chat

Good job guys!


This same message was also posted by a dead account ... So it seems to be a fake one posted by the team


I have spent my evening on Pluto. It's a great product! I run a 80 people startup and I have been looking for ways to restore serendipity. I tried several products notably Altspace VR, Mozilla Hubs, Teamflow and Decentraland.

Reasons I prefer Pluto to other products

- Easy to sign-in - Faster to load - Doesn't lag - See my friends' face (killer feature versus an avatar) - Spacial video chat

Good job guys!




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