One-time Kalexo founder Hannes Marais has created a new visual communication tool for creative people, Oumy, which, if integrated into other collaboration platforms, could accelerate idea-sharing.
Six years ago in February 2009, I wrote about building information modelling (BIM), integrated project delivery (IPD) and collaboration. My post was stimulated by two Cadalyst articles by Pete Zyskowski, stressing the importance of communication in BIM. It also marked the launch of a new software-as-a-service platform called Kalexo which promised to seamlessly combine advanced task management with communication tools such as file sharing, online meetings and video chat.
Kalexo helped teams manage tasks, recording information-rich integrated voice, movie communications and online meetings, and in 2011 it was acquired by Autodesk, with founder Hannes Marais becoming an Autodesk staffer for about a year. In 2013, Hannes was developing a new video tool – Flashback (June 2013) – and it seems he has since been working on a more advanced version of Kalexo’s video playback functionality.
California, US-based Oumy – “Visual communication for creative people” – has just launched the official (and currently free) public beta release of its first product (says an email I received yesterday from Hannes and co-founder and UX specialist Hans Guntren). Users simply share an image, a PDF or Microsoft file, click a button to start and then record their thoughts while pointing at the parts of the image they are discussing. Average Oumy videos are apparently less than three minutes long, helping quickly convey the user’s ideas.
Pre-Beta consultation with users led to a series of enhancements, and Oumy now has:
- Instant video discussions about design files, including Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, PDF, Microsoft Powerpoint, Word, and most image formats
- A Chrome browser extension for discussing web pages
- The ability to invite clients via URL to Oumy topics, without requiring them to go through a sign up process
- Audio troubleshooter to set up a microphone
- A more intuitive user interface (and a web site with a gallery of inspiring Oumy clips)
I am pleased to see Hannes innovating again, and still focused on highly interactive and intuitive cloud-based tools to support collaboration and team working. My first thought: BIM ‘common data environments’ are now sharing comments associated with snapshots of models, sometimes using BIM Collaboration Format (BCF) – but these views are static. Think how a tool like Oumy could potentially deliver a much richer user experience.