Breakroom: A New Social Hub for Remote Work Teams, Education, and Conferences from Sinespace

Sinespace has decided to branch out into an area that has seen a mini-boom in recent months: social VR platforms whose aim is to provide an immersive social hub to bring together work teams who may be scattered across different neighbourhoods, different cities, even different countries!

This is a particularly critical need, as so many employees are now working in self-isolation from their homes in an effort to stop the spread of the current coronavirus pandemic. Keeping your team connected and motivated, when pre-existing lines of communication have been shattered and shared physical spaces are no longer available, can negatively impact a company’s productivity and morale, and its bottom line. Sinespace is selling Breakroom as a way to overcome these hurdles.

The concept is to bring your work team together in your own safe, secure, branded virtual world, providing team members a private space where they can hang out, connect with peers, chat around the virtual water cooler, and feel part of the group. Some of the benefits are:

  • Use live events and social hangouts to create momentum and enthusiasm;
  • Go beyond work collaboration tools to offer a full social space where your team members can be themselves;
  • Help people maintain the friendships they rely on in their daily lives, even if they are physically apart;
  • Support employee mental health while they self-isolate with shared spaces and activities, and combat the threat of depression and other mental health issues that isolation, worry, and fear can lead to.

Among the many features offered by Breakroom are:

  • Exhibition halls
  • Corporate headquarters
  • Amphitheaters
  • Open plan offices
  • Private offices
  • Student common rooms
  • Cinema and screening rooms
  • Live music venues
  • Casual game regions and tables
  • Breakout rooms
  • Hangouts
  • Explorable regions
  • Extensive avatar customization
  • 10,000+ virtual goods for shopping and building your own worlds
  • Full suite of communication tools (VOIP, IM and inworld email)
  • Video conferencing, video sharing and conferencing tools
  • Media sharing and desktop sharing tools
  • Branded exhibition stands
  • Event management system
  • Mature APIs for integrating other enterprise applications
  • In-world building and scene editing
  • HIPAA compliant regions for one-to-one therapy sessions
  • Support for live events including music, cinema, pub quizzes, seminar sessions

Breakroom is also partnering with a number of agency partners who can build a custom breakroom to your company’s specifications. And, of course, content designed by existing Sinespace developers can also be bought by users to use in their Breakrooms, giving them yet another avenue for sales.

Pricing for corporate users starts at US$500 per month for 50 seats, a fully-featured private custom branded space, with dedicated customer support. Additional seats can be purchased for only US$10 per month per seat. Bulk discounts are available; please contact the company for further details.

And Sinespace is offering Breakroom to state and public schools for free, with an unlimited number of seats! A product such as this can so easily bring students and teachers together, in an immersive, shared virtual space, in a way that Zoom and Webex simply cannot.

Breakroom

Wagner James Au of the long-running virtual worlds blog New World Notes has written several pieces about Breakroom: an introduction to the platform with a brief interview with lead developer Adam Frisby, as well as a poll asking potential education users what time slots they would prefer for live group demos.

And, I note with interest, among the staff listing for Breakroom, Wagner is listed under the job title of Public Relations for this new venture. You gotta hand it to Wagner; he knows how to hustle for his coin! He’s one of the hardest working men in the metaverse (after, of course, the utterly inexhaustible Draxtor Despres), and no doubt offers Sinespace the wealth of his many years of experience in virtual worlds.

On Friday, May 1st, Sinespace hosted the first open house of Breakroom, to demonstrate the various features of the platform for visitors. Sinespace staff demoed Breakrooms features to support remote work and teaching, including webcam calls, a dynamic whiteboard, screensharing, and a group quiz system.

A screencap from the Breakroom open house livestream (below)

And, if you feel the need to let off some steam, why not take your work team to the racetrack?

The race track in Breakroom

If you missed the open house, you can catch the entire hour-and-a-half livestream here. There’s lots to see and do! Breakroom is the perfect virtual meeting spot for your work team to feel connected and energized.

To get started in Breakroom, just fill out the form at the bottom of their official website, and a representative from the company will get in touch with you. There are also downloadable demo versions of Breakroom for both Windows and MacOS users, if you want to kick the tires, test out the features, and see how Breakroom can work for your company.

More information about Sinespace is available from their website, and you can also follow them on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Discord, and YouTube.


This blogpost is sponsored by Sinespace, and was written in my role as an embedded reporter for this virtual world (more details here). 

What Adam Frisby Has Learned From Working on OpenSim

Adam Frisby.png
Adam Frisby

Adam Frisby, a co-founder of OpenSim and the Chief Product Officer of Sine Wave Entertainment (the creators of the virtual world Sinespace), has written a very insightful article for the Hypergrid Business website.

Titled What I learned about virtual worlds by helping found OpenSim, Adam talks at length about some of the lessons he learned from building virtual worlds over the past 12 years, particularly his experience with OpenSim:

For a while, there were some big names adopting the project in droves. Nearly every major tech company had some involvement — or at least one employee contributing — to OpenSim at some point. IBM had an entire team of OpenSim developers and was running internal conferences using the project. During my involvement, the OpenSim software was downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. In the years since, it’s found its way into many surprising places, from NASA to university courses.

It’s gratifying to see OpenSim still soldiering on 12 years later, in great part through the efforts of the educators who’ve embraced it, and through worlds like OSGrid, which maintains a small but dedicated user community, along with a host of other enterprises, projects and grids using the software.

And while OpenSim didn’t become the breakout success we hoped it would, I learned a lot from it, about building virtual world platforms — and what they need.

He stresses the importance of not reinventing the wheel:

Virtual worlds shouldn’t reinvent the wheel

This is true of Second Life and OpenSim, and numerous other virtual worlds and MMOs — attempting to build key features and functionality by creating them from scratch, when better options already exist.

At the time, the list of free or cheap 3D engines could be counted on one hand — Torque, Ogre3D, Irrlicht, etc. But today, we have dozens of fantastic high-end options, including Unity, Unreal, Lumberyard, CryEngine, and Unigine. If you were willing to shell out real cash, Unreal, CryEngine, id Tech and others have been available throughout.

Building your own graphics engine from scratch, however, is a dumb idea. It’s an insanely complex bit of software. Throw in a few thousand graphics cards and chips, various drivers, and you’ve got the recipe for a monumental headache on compatibility and support, let alone trying to stay up to date with the latest and greatest in 3D features. Trying to build your own is just going to result in you wasting a ton of talent reinventing the wheel.

Sinespace is built on top of the Unity engine, which allows it to leverage the usage of such cool, Unity-based tools such as Archimatix. Contrast this with Linden Lab’s Sansar, where Linden Lab has decided to develop their own engine. There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches (for example, Sinespace has to scramble to fix bugs introduced by regular Unity updates, something that Linden Lab doesn’t need to worry about as much, since they control everything in-house).

Adam also talks about the importance of addressing non-Windows and mobile users:

Virtual worlds must be accessible — immediately

Even among gamers, the percentage of people willing to downland and install a client, then endure a time-consuming, multi-step login process, is vanishingly small. For the same reason, web and mobile access matter too. We know from our own efforts that if you want someone to download or install something, half of the people who sign up, won’t.

Today’s consumers don’t use desktops either – the web today is mobile, and I find myself using my phone more and more, switching only to my desktop to get work done. You need to be where the users are – and that, in my opinion, means friction- free and device-agnostic experiences.

I note that Sinespace is now available not only on the desktop (with versions for Windows, MacOS, and LINUX), but also for users in VR headsets (Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Windows Mixed Reality). They’re also currently testing viewers for both iPhone/iPad and Android devices. Sinespace even has a viewer that runs completely within a web browser (I’ve tested it and it works fairly well). And they are working on a client for OpenVR viewers for both Windows and Mac, too! I would have to say that, at this point, Sinespace is ahead of the competition in terms of mobile device and multiple platform support. They’ve got all the bases covered!

Offering lots of options for people to access your virtual world (particularly those which don’t involve downloading a client) gives you an advantage in an increasingly crowded market of metaverse products. And if you don’t believe that mobile-accessible virtual worlds are important, you really do need to check out both IMVU and Avakin Life. Both are very popular with children and teenagers, most of whom are on smartphones—and these children and teenagers are future adult consumers! Companies need to be paying attention to this segment of the market.

This is a very good article about virtual worlds from an industry veteran who is doing some innovative things in virtual worlds. I’d encourage you to go over to Hypergrid Business and read it in full!