We cover a lot of fresh new products and startups here at The Next Web.
More often than not we provide you with some screenshots and a set of links to reflect our excitement. But from time to time we stumble across something so unique and brilliant, that it would probably be best to simply send you over and ask you to sign up!
Please give a very warm welcome to 6rounds!
We’ve managed to get 250 invites to their site, which is currently in private beta. Make sure to grab one now!
The experience 6rounds delivers is somewhat difficult to describe in writing.
Technically 6rounds is a fully video enabled real-time meeting point with social networking capabilities, collaborative browsing, chat, multi-player gaming and built-in social recommendation features that can be expanded through an open API.
In reality 6rounds has taken everything we’ve seen in the Instant Messaging space to the next level and delivers an unprecedented, emotionally engaging and fascinating experience which is so much fun, you have to try it yourself!
I’ve had the pleasure of using it for almost an hour together with 6rounds’ CEO, Dany Fishel, who guided me through the various parts of the site. During the session we went through my Facebook profile, watched YouTube videos together and played a round of Backgammon – all accompanied by live video and audio from Germany to Israel.
State-of-the-art web-video collaboration done right
I’ve never been a heavy user of IM video features and was totally overwhelmed by how it truly bridges a distance if done right, or – so to speak – if done the 6rounds way!
When you sign up for their service, you have to create your profile first. The fine folks at 6rounds have done a great job integrating with MySpace, Facebook and Flickr. If you grand authorization they import your favorite movies, photos, books and hobbies. This helps you getting started in a matter of minutes.
Once set up you’ve got a couple of options: You can either go to the People section and see who else is online, check out profiles and invite other rounders for a 1:1 session.
Or, and this is just one of the intriguing ideas that makes 6rounds so unique, you join what is called an “Activity Round”. Activity Rounds are sessions based on a common type of activity. One such example is the YouTube Activity Round, where you can watch YouTube videos together with your peers. Other activities include collaboratively exploring Facebook profiles, playing chess, discussing music tastes and even joining a round the system randomly selects for you, which can be very surprising.
When you’ve decided for either a 1:1 People session or an Activity driven one, 6rounds initiates the live audio and video connection along with a beautiful user interface that allows you to collaborate in many ways. You can send gifts to your chat partner, lovely little animations that are superimposed on top of the video feed.
Just one of the many outstanding and unique features is the “chat-tipster”, sort of a built-in ice-breaker that helps you keeping your conversation going. It works as follows: If you’ve decided for an activity based round, chances are you get connected to a total stranger. So how do you start your discussion? Simply click the “Tip” icon and 6rounds comes up with recommendations for your next chat message based on the shared information available in your social network profiles and the ones of your round partner. Mine was: “Dany and you both like Coldplay. Why don’t you ask Dany about the latest Coldplay song?”. One more click and Dany and I started discussing music!
Real-time special effect mania
There’s also a large set of effects which you can apply to your video feed. As you can see in the screen capture Dany has been on fire talking to me, while I switched on snow, to cool things down a bit.
It’ is hilarious to see how the snow flakes actually settle down on your head until you shake it and they all continue to fall down.
Are you in a romantic mood? Feel free to apply themes to your 6rounds window to express yourself.
As an example, when you’re on the move and leverage 6rounds to watch your favorite TV show together with the loved ones at home, you can create a theatre like atmosphere with just a couple of mouse clicks.
Or, if you’re more into gambling, how about enjoying one of the many games that are already available?
As you might be aware of by now, I’m already a huge 6rounds fan.
The 6rounds site relies heavily on Adobe Flash. For me it’s actually one of the best show cases for a site primarily built in Flash, the UI is simply beautiful, polished and efficient at the same time. It does a fantastic job of engaging the user and creating an environment that’s fun to use and highly addictive.
Extending 6rounds: Creating your own games, activities, themes and gifts
But besides offering the 6rounds site itself, Dany and his team have bigger plans in mind. They are actually working on opening up the GixOO Platform (the self-created technology, 6rounds runs on) for 3rd party developers.
As Dany explains: “We intend on integrating the platform into 3rd party websites and communities – starting from an application in Facebook or an open-social app in MySpace, continuing with a plugin for WordPress or an embeddable widget in users personal pages, and ending with various extensions to IM, ICQ, Skype and Firefox and even whitelabel solutions for other global markets. 6rounds aims to be a cross-network platform which will allow users from all over the web to interact live and in real-time, no matter what their favorite social network or service are.”
The video experience will be opened gradually to developers and designers, who will be able to enrich the experience of the video platform by developing more activities, unique games, gifts and skins. The API is based on Flash and Action Script 3 and will allow developers to easily create rich, interactive and real-time applications with the two mice capabilities, pulling user data and so on. 6rounds plans to offer the API on their public beta launch.
Mobile is coming, too
6rounds also looks into mobile and is planning on building a mobile application, which will allow them to offer conversations between users from the website to users on mobile, as well as from mobile to mobile.