Workplace collaboration software is undergoing a transformation–Slack, for example, extends the organization and interaction model of IRC, with an API that makes integrations for apps and bots easier to implement for developers, and an interface that is more approachable for novice users. Microsoft Teams, Workplace by Facebook, as well as the open-source Mattermost and Spectrum have followed this model, though none of them have quite managed the lofty goal of killing email.

In contrast, videoconferencing has lagged behind substantially–the focus of companies like Blue Jeans Network and Zoom are on technical implementations like bridging incompatibilities between proprietary video conferencing hardware, but offer little to improve the social aspects of collaboration happening on their platforms.

SEE: Smart office technology: What’s working, what’s failing, and what users want out of it (Tech Pro Research)

Rumpus, a new collaboration platform from Oblong Industries, aims to correct that. Rumpus is designed around the idea of multi-stream collaboration for remote teams. Users can stream their webcam and desktop concurrently, while other participants can interact with streamed content using their own pointer–giving the ability to highlight or annotate streamed content visually without interrupting the speaker, improving the flow of meetings. It also allows everyone in the meeting to see who is looking at what, as the cursor position is visible to other users.

Oblong plans to introduce an emoji manager, providing a means for nonverbal cues like a thumbs up, or raising a hand to signal a question without interrupting the current speaker–a circumstance that inevitably results in people talking over each other and repeating themselves as meeting participants navigate the room lag. Additional features for host control, such as locking participants to focus on one screen, are being evaluated for potential future inclusion.

The company positions Rumpus as the remote-only counterpart to their Mezzanine presentation and video conferencing hardware.

Rather than reinvent the wheel for negotiating video conferencing, Rumpus extends the existing Blue Jeans Network platform, though plans future integrations with other video conferencing software. The open beta, starting March 18, requires a BlueJeans trial or paid account to host meetings, but guests can join without registration. Presently, Rumpus is available on Mac OS X 10.10 or later, with Windows support planned for Q2 2019.