Icecomm+ Virtual Karl

What people are building with Icecomm

3 min readFeb 19, 2015

Seeing the incredible projects engineering teams and solo developers are building with Icecomm is truly the best feeling in the world.

We’re going to highlight some of the most special projects being built with the Icecomm platform

Starting with VirtualKarl. VirtualKarl is the creation of Adam Butler out of the UK.

Here’s the headline: he built an in-browser video chat that allows chat participants to control each other’s cameras (to pan, zoom and even shoot missiles around during their daily standup).

So where did the idea come from? Adam works at SimpleWeb in the UK and is the creator behind NodeCraft. The guys at SimpleWeb work with team members remotely and in the daily standups had to use video chat but

a) Skype was super-unreliable and

b) the remote guys complained it didn’t feel personal — they couldn’t look at people etc.

Adam heard their call and built out VirtualKarl — a video chat where the remote guys could control the office webcams (and shoot missiles from the cams)

Setting up WebRTC from scratch is 100s of lines of code — a huge endeavor and can just shut projects down — Adam had tried some webrtc libraries but data channels were not working etc.

He saw Icecomm launch on HN and ‘I had it working in 5 mins’ — this is music to our ears. Or as the team put it:

WebRTC has crazy potential to upend how communication and realtime are done online but it needs to be accessible so the Adams of this world can build and prototype on top of the core technology — that’s what we’re trying to make possible

The guys at SimpleWeb are using VirtualKarl every day — live streaming their hacknights (who doesn’t want to control the livestream video cam remotely?) and surviving leaders in the Javascript field using the app to remote shoot missiles around the office

A few more technical details:

  • Adam used a webcam and USB missile launcher, hacked the USB api to get control over the missile launcher and used Node webkit for the interaction with it
  • No server-side code needed for the video chat and text chat (#Icecomm #noserversidecode)

We’ll be sharing more of these wonderful stories over the coming weeks — seeing these projects emerge is what makes this such a special experience