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Inspired by the regular video conferencing that happens in our Remote Beta course, two students decided to take the video chat beyond the standard talking heads and create a more dynamic experience. Dave Mun, who was taking the course in Los Angeles, collaborated with Rory Campbell in London on Real Faces, which creates a three-dimensional, Minecraft-like world in which to have virtual meetings.
The two of them presented their program at our most recent Hiring Day:
With Real Faces, people get back some of the conversational body language, such as turning toward a specific person or moving in a shared environment that tends to get lost in normal video conferencing. The environment itself can also be decorated or used to display information.
“When someone asks a question, it may be hard for Dave or I to know which one of us is leaning toward asking a question,” Campbell explains, describing normal video conferencing. Real Faces “provides more social cues.”
The duo used WebRTC, an open-source project to enable sites and apps with real-time communication (RTC) capabilities. WebRTC is powerful, but as a relatively new technology, there are challenges to using it.
“There are pretty much no docs on WebRTC,” says Mun. “Even the libraries that attempt to simplify it have no docs, so the docs on the docs don’t exist.”
This forced the two of them into a granular exploration of how WebRTC is built.
“I actually learned a lot in terms of how people design frameworks, or when to get a sense of when something is going to break,” Mun notes.
In addition to building a fun app that our remote program may eventually adopt for video conferencing, the project provided proof of how much Mun and Campbell had learned since the start of the program.
“I didn’t know anything about 3D programming,” says Campbell. “It made us feel like anything is possible.”
“I’m really grateful to Hack Reactor for making this experience possible,” Mun adds. “When I wanted to get into programming, I thought I’d have to go to a 4 year school. Hack Reactor is exactly what I wanted. If you had told me 12 weeks ago the level I would be at, I wouldn’t believe you.”
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