E-mail and meetings are sucking productivity even from the most dynamic and agile of companies. The founders of Somia Reality, a Finnish startup, know this from experience and looked to innovate in this space to reduce the clutter. The founders of the company are also the founders of IRC-Gallery, a hugely popular online social network that has seen its brightest days for the time time being. Regardless of rising competition from the likes of Facebook and other social networking services, IRC-Gallery continues to generate enough revenue to keep Somia Reality ramen profitable to sustain a team of 9 to develop their new service, Teamvisio, further.
Teamvisio is heavily influenced by the ageless communication service, IRC, that is mostly used by developers and other online afficionados. Teamvisio takes IRC further though. Where as IRC users are limited to text only, Teamvisio adds audio and video to allow more depth to conversations. However, the basic use case of Teamvisio is very similar to that of IRC - both are considered to be the most useful when used in the background.
Some may find it odd that you constantly have a video camera filming you, only to have your team members be able to see you at your desk. However, this is exactly the case in the real world. Anyone in an open office is able to lift their head to see their team members typing away on their computers. Communication on Teamvisio is divided into channels, yet another good attribute from IRC.
What makes Teamvisio extremely interesting is the way it combines audio, video and text into something that feels almost persuasive, but infact works seamlessly in the background.
Ville Mujunen, one of the co-founders of the company, stated that "use cases in communication haven't really changed to take advantage of the new technological environment in the best possible way. Just take a look at what happened to letters when they went digital and online - they became e-mail. Same with phone calls - they went from using mobile networks to VoIP."
Indeed - not a lot of change has happened in the way people use new technologies with age old use cases, which may be a huge opportunity for Somia Reality or then it may be the trench that they fall into.
To be honest, Teamvisio doesn't really require you to change your behaviour - it works very similarly to our more common instant messaging applications that in addition have a video stream constantly on and include the possibility to switch on audio with a single click.
Teamvisio isn't only about a new way to combine text, audio and video. The company has worked hard to understand what technological approach is able to reduce delay in video and audio communication to an absolute minimum. They successfully tested this in SXSW this year where one of their team members was demoing the service from Finland to the team at their booth in Austin, Texas.
The service routes all communication through their servers in the cloud which deliver audio through their own, proprietary codecs to take advantage of bandwidth more efficiently. You are able to use the service through a tablet or a mobile device as it is built on HTML5. Audio and video are still pushed through Flash though, as streaming services in HTML5 are still in development.
Even though Somia Reality is financially ramen profitable, Mujunen has told us that they are looking to raise financing to make development more full time and effective. We hear the company is present at TheNextWeb conference in Amsterdam, where you will be able to experience a demo of the service.
Despite having multiple challenges, just as any startup, Somia Reality is definitely after one of those world changing areas of innovation that Paul Graham, for example, has outlined in one of his recent talks. E-mail and meetings are really sucking productivity and they need to be fixed, Teamvisio may just be what we're looking for.
A working product, yet to be polished by Somia Reality.