Around, a refreshingly new approach to #webrtc Calls and Meetings.

Around came up with a big dream: being able to have a meeting in a room where other people would have a meeting, without earpiece, and without echo! Surfing the Work From Home wave, they came out of stealth mode a few weeks back, but they had been at work for months with a team of very gifted engineers and WebRTC experts alike.

Video meeting technology & UX had not significantly changed in 15 years. With $5.2M in funding led by Floodgate and Initialized Capital, Around founders are changing that.

The UI is much more intuitive than traditional online meeting apps, and using AI to extract people face from their video stream and present them as nicely blended floating heads above your apps. While this is done using native apps (or electron), the same effects will soon become available on the web thanks to several new WebRTC NV APIs. The medooze / CoSMo team already published a first demo that works in google canary for all to enjoy.

One of the biggest call for fame is their “Echo Terminator” Technology which aims at redefining usage of laptops and earpieces in a meeting.

As for technology, Around’s “EchoTerminator” uses ultrasonic audio to detect nearby laptops and synchronization to eliminate those strange feedback sounds. Around also employs artificial intelligence and the fast CPUs of modern laptops to suppress noise like sirens, dog barks, washing machines, or screaming children.
TechCrunch

Echo cancellation, and audio processing in browser stacks are not for the faint of heart though, and Around bumped very quickly into technical challenges they could not solve themselves.

With coronavirus putting a new emphasis on video technology for tons of companies, finding great engineers could be difficult. “Talent is scarce, and good video is hard tech. Video products are on the rise. Google and large companies snag all the talent, plus they have the ability and scale to train audio-video professionals at universities in northern Europe” Zane tells me. “Talent wars are the biggest risk and obstacle for all real-time video companies.
” Techcrunch

In the past months we’ve seen many acquisitions, bluejeans, call stats.io wave cell, …. and every single collaboration service has seen increasing traction and is hiring as fast as they can. It only put more stress on an already small pool of available webrtc resources.

Without surprise, the Around team turned to external WebRTC experts.

First on the project was the great team behind MediaSoup, the open webrtc SFU whose technology compose a core part of Around solution’s back-end. They are not to be introduced anymore, their expertise is recognised by all and many companies use their tech (with or without giving them credit, or paying them anything, but that’s a separate discussion).

When Around bumped into client-side problems, deep in both WebRTC and the chrome web audio part, they turned to CoSMo.

We started with a bold vision and wanted to elevate webRTC to uncharted territories. We were facing challenges deep in the Chromium stack that were significantly reducing our chances to succeed and were shortening our runway. As a startup, we need to move fast and can’t afford to rely solely on Google. We turned to CoSMo — their complete understanding of the Chromium source code and deep expertise in the WebRTC stack has been unmatched. CoSMo ’s experiences and speed was key to address bugs and nuances in libwebrtc, WebAudio, NetEq, jitter buffer, audio mixing, AEC and WebAudio. We’re very excited about our partnership with CoSMo.
” Dominik ZANE – Founder and CEO – Around.

Around is a great product that redefine the boundary of what people though was possible with respect to calls. Do not hesitate to join they programs and give it a spin. Your calls will never be the same.

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