Fun? Video chat? Google Wave? That's right, the Wave is not just about collaborative Wikis and seeing what the other person is typing. A really interesting feature of the platform is the ability to add extensions, one of the first of these is 6rounds, an extension that plugs in a full video chat facility to the platform, but not just that, it also provides the ability to perform tasks together. Interestingly, the extension has its roots in Speed Dating, but it looks like it has a great deal of potential, and like many Web 2.0 applications is built using open source technology.
Shortly after writing about my first impressions of Google Wave I was contacted by Natasha Shine of Gixoo.com, the Israeli startup behind 6rounds. She was kind enough to answer some questions about the extension, the 6rounds idea and the company behind it for this blog. The extension is actually based on a standalone website which was originally a speed dating platform. Of course not every date would go very well, so the platform had a feature where the couple not-to-be could do something fun while waiting for the next date such as play a game or watch a video. At least that was the initial thinking but the idea grew and Natasha comments “it turned out to be something completely different and really far from being dedicated to dating”.
The standalone website can be found at 6rounds.com, it is not long out of beta but anybody can register and join in. It is only to use it in an integrated manner with Wave that you need a Wave account. The website was launched on 2ndJuly 2009 on Techcrunch and shortly afterwards they were contacted by Google to provide one of the first extensions for the Wave platforms. Apparently they got a demo together in just three weeks and are now available to anybody on Wave. Using the service you can video chat and also do a range of activities together like browsing shopping sites, watching videos and looking at Facebook.
The company behind 6rounds hasn't been around for that long either. It was founded in 2007 by Dany Fishel and Ilan Leibovich who had previously run a company called KwaKwa helping Israeli startups with their product and marketing efforts. Initially they got some money together from their own funds, and friends and family to get an office and start on their latest venture, but since then they have had two further rounds of funding raising nearly $1.4M. Gixoo feel that Google Wave could really take off and replace email in many circumstances, as well as interesting opportunities arising from embedding Waves in existing websites, with 6rounds providing the chance to have enhanced video chats embedded in every wave.
One area where it has been suggested Google Wave could be very useful is in the Education sector. I asked Natasha about the educational possibilities of 6rounds. She commented that it could be used for such things as watching an educational video from YouTube, with the participants learning together with the aid of real time communication. She added that they are planning to open up an API to the service and have plans for such things as document sharing, whiteboards and slideshows. An API also means that educators could import tools into the environment and extend it in new ways.
Like many Web 2.0 sites, 6rounds was built using open source technology. In this case it was Python (which I've mentioned before as a really interesting, very versatile language), the MySQL database, the Apache and LightHTTPD webservers and Memcached, which is used to speed up web sites. I do sometime wonder if Web 2.0 would have been possible at all without open source, it has enabled a level experimentation and freedom that may have been very difficult with expensive and sometimes restrictive proprietary software.
The 6rounds extension is available now on Google Wave Extensions Gallery. The video below shows the extension in action.