By Mehab Qureshi
It’s been years since many of us bid goodbye to our offices and started working from home. During this time, Zoom, Google Meet and Teams have become integral to the way we stay connected. But for people who want to remain anonymous on video calls and believe in the power of decentralisation, ‘Huddle01’ is emerging as the go-to platform. This new Web3 video meeting platform utilises crypto-native premises to create an immersive social experience on both web and mobile.
Web3 makes for a decentralised web that challenges the dominance of tech giants by concentrating the power and data in the hands of the users, instead of big corporations. This means that data is distributed across networks and no single entity owns the information.
“We wanted to create a video-conferencing application that was reliable, secure, and private for users. An app that would help users communicate irrespective of distance, device, and access to modern resources,” said Ayush Ranjan, 27, co-founder and CEO of Huddle01.
Ayush Ranjan and Susmit Lavania built Huddle01 as engineering students during the pandemic, which had forced students to attend online classes. “The major problem for students was bandwidth, especially for those in tier-II and tier-III cities. Frequent lags had a deep impact on learning outcomes,” said Lavania, 25.
On Huddle01, users aren’t dependent on central servers to maintain their connection; rather, you are connected to your nearest Host. In simpler words, the app is built on a peer-to-peer video conferencing solution, which means a direct connection is facilitated between two or more devices for audio and video data streaming in real time.
Ranjan claimed that the latency of the app is just one-fifth of server-based apps like Zoom and Google Meet. In video conferencing, low latency means better video quality. The company has to date hosted 16,000+ meetings on Huddle01 with more than 250,000+ minutes of engagement.
According to Ranjan, Huddle01 works better than centralised apps like Zoom and Google also because it cares about privacy. This means that it doesn’t store any of your data and you can share anything with your friends. “No Log-In, No Sign-Up, just Huddle your way out,” is how he put it.
The app, however, has one popular way to log in, which is through linkage to your crypto wallet. “We use crypto wallets to identify unique users, which means we can only store a wallet address, and we pretty much can’t do anything with wallet addresses alone. Again, as wallets are completely in the custody of their owners, we can’t access the wallets except for their addresses,” said Lavania.
Another feature that makes Huddle01 special is that anyone can power a meeting. “If you are in a tier-II city, it is natural for your network latency to be high, but what if someone else, probably sitting in a metro city, powers your connection? This is possible only through Blockchain,” Ranjan explained. The company plans to provide economic incentives to its users through crypto for powering calls on its network.
For Web3 enthusiasts, Huddle01 has an in-built feature in case they want to show off their NFTs. We have a feature where, once you connect your crypto wallet to Huddle01, we fetch your NFTs and you can choose your favourite collection as your display profile. We will soon be coming up with NFT AR filters to cover the user’s face and maintain anonymity,” Lavania said.
NFTs are not JPEGs anymore but a gateway to limited access to guilds, meetups, parties, and products. NFTs are also one of the most expressive primitives in web3. And since web3 is community-powered, token-gated meetings become a crucial part of the exercise.
In a few years, Huddle01 plans to shift from online meetings in a 2D screen box to those in a Virtual Reality-based environment. “We are actively experimenting with Oculus Quest 2 and plan to launch a beta product for meetings to be held in VR. It will take a few years or roughly a decade to transition fully from the current tech stack of communications, but it will happen. Significantly, a lot of innovation is happening in the user-end devices space to make it affordable for everyone,” added Ranjan.