Telecommunications

Virtual office platform aims to make remote collaborations fluid and fun

Virtual office platform aims t...
absurd:joy is developing a virtual office/collaboration platform for remote teamworking that's "built to be playful, joyful and fun"
absurd:joy is developing a virtual office/collaboration platform for remote teamworking that's "built to be playful, joyful and fun"
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absurd:joy is developing a virtual office/collaboration platform for remote teamworking that's "built to be playful, joyful and fun"
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absurd:joy is developing a virtual office/collaboration platform for remote teamworking that's "built to be playful, joyful and fun"
Remote workers join a virtual office space featuring a shared creativity space and individual or meeting rooms
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Remote workers join a virtual office space featuring a shared creativity space and individual or meeting rooms
Looking at yourself during video meetings can be very tiring, so the absurd:joy team is looking at creating animated avatars for more comfortable brainstorming sessions
3/3
Looking at yourself during video meetings can be very tiring, so the absurd:joy team is looking at creating animated avatars for more comfortable brainstorming sessions
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Thanks to the global pandemic, many folks who would normally travel to an office have found themselves working remotely from home. A company called absurd:joy is developing a new virtual office platform that's "built around privacy, comfort and creativity," and is now inviting remote teams to join the beta program.

absurd:joy was founded by Alex Schwartz, former CEO of award-winning VR game developer Owlchemy Labs (which was acquired by Google in 2017), and like the original Owlchemy setup, was conceived as a remote-working studio.

Though virtual communications tools do already exist of course, meeting participants can feel somewhat fragmented – just boxes on a screen. The creative energy of brainstorming ideas around a table in an office space can get lost in the often rigid structure of current online collaboration platforms. "The tangible sense-experience of being a part of the team lost in the void."

Finding nothing available that didn't come with such issues, the absurd;joy team decided to build its own platform.

Remote workers join a virtual office space featuring a shared creativity space and individual or meeting rooms
Remote workers join a virtual office space featuring a shared creativity space and individual or meeting rooms

"We created Tangle for ourselves," said the company's Cy Wise. "To collaborate meaningfully with our team. To jump into side conversations with each other seamlessly. To do focus work without being isolated. To leave notes on each other’s doors. To wander by our artist’s desk to see the concept art strung up around it. To laugh at the memes left on whiteboards in meetings we weren’t a part of.

"After months of building games as a team with Tangle as our primary communication platform, our friends began begging us for access and we realized that sharing this tool could bring us, our friends, and many others in many industries, vastly more joy."

Tangle is all about collaboration. Each remote team member has a room in the virtual office interface, with a door icon above the livestreamed window. If the door is open, that person is available for visits from colleagues, chats, content sharing and idea exchanges. If someone wants to crack on and focus on a task, the door can be closed.

Ideas can be jotted down on Post-It-like notes and pinned near rooms, documents can be shared or collaboratively worked on, messages can be posted to the UI for all to see, and images and videos can be uploaded. Colleagues can work on projects together and group edit or leave notes.

Looking at yourself during video meetings can be very tiring, so the absurd:joy team is looking at creating animated avatars for more comfortable brainstorming sessions
Looking at yourself during video meetings can be very tiring, so the absurd:joy team is looking at creating animated avatars for more comfortable brainstorming sessions

Meeting rooms can be generated for team gatherings and brainstorming sessions, and folks can drop in and out with one click. And the developers recognize that looking at your own face on a screen can be tiring, and are building animated avatars into the platform to use instead. All work and no play can be exhausting too, and the portal allows for remote workers to spend downtime gaming together as well.

For the past eight months or so, absurd:joy has had a number of remote teams using the platform as a virtual office/collaboration space in stealth mode, while also testing out features and providing feedback.

This beta is still ongoing, but – after securing seed-round funding of US$5.35 million – the developers are now inviting applications from more remote teams to join them in the development journey towards bringing the Tangle platform to market. The video below has more.

Tangle - Collaboration spaces for remote teams

Source: absurd:joy

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3 comments
3 comments
Synchro
I remember seeing a system essentially the same as this at the Xerox lab in Cambridge in about 1994. Same interface metaphors - whiteboards, notes, video chats, ambient audio, doors for status, the lot. I even took part in some of their user testing.
Daishi
I saw something useful like this at Miro that's sort of an online white board that allows things like team planning. It lacks the video feature seen here but that part is often already handled by other software (Zoom etc.) anyway. You can't view people you are not in meetings with like here but that part is creepy to me anyway.
Bob Flint
I have had enough of the online babble, did 2 months, needed to get back with real work & people, create physical parts & assemblies, and provide real solutions to customers.