Thinkithing: Version Control for Your Thoughts
March 15, 2018
The goal of this product is to eliminate wasteful, time-consuming miscommunication in meetings and highlight useful overlooked side-tangents among collaborators. Traditional non-assisted ideation methods may eventually seem difficult, cumbersome, and inefficient in comparison.
Like many people, I sometimes lose track of facets of conversations. Some examples include; philosophical discussions, introductions to new people, meetings, debates, or even on my own, flushing out ideas for products.
I occasionally feel I’ve lost great moments for sharing valuable information by not utilizing the combined mental space available to the group at the precise moment needed. When we digress, it can feel like explaining a joke. If the opportunity is missed, the idea can go to waste. However, sometimes that information is incredibly useful and vital, just misunderstood.
I feel “Thinkithing” solves this missed opportunity problem by allowing visual conversation traversal via a version control like interface in Virtual Reality.
Version control is a unique way to save versions of computer files. It is based on a tree structure and timeline analogy. For “Thinkithing’s” method of version control, the tree structure is a hierarchy of rooms, and the timeline is a series of committed saves of an object or group of objects that each user has created in any one place.
The visual objects created by users can be any entity, such as 3D models, images, sounds, text, etc. Think of how we use gifs or emojis to express concepts to one another in text messages, well, consider these as critical moments in a conversation or saved “nodes.” Say I put a hat on the emoji with an editing tool and save for example, that creates another node. When it is edited, or another object is added and saved again, another node is formed on the timeline.
In this instance, I used editing tools to adapt objects to get even more expressive and granular with a conversation. “Tools” can be anything from a camera to a scale tool, to a sound console… to any number of creative applications.
Nodes are visualized on a timeline dashboard in front of each user. The user can be switched on that dashboard. So, for example, I can see my friends timeline, not just my own. That way I can isolate user layers in that room and highlight only that user’s objects with a glow.
Also saved is an audio waveform below the dashboard related to each committed save. That audio is each selected user’s freeform discussion for the topic relating to that keep. The sound can be panned and sped up, and audio notes or annotations can be added by other users to any point in time on the waveform timeline. Users can add or delete their own audio relating to past save nodes, and the group will be notified.
Rooms are like whiteboards, they are the creative canvas or the studio to express moments of a conversation in. “Rooms” are displayed as 3D scalable isometric boxes in a tree-like connected structure. Rooms are representations of thought tangents, in version control, these are called branches. Anyone can create a “room” based on a visual object. This is where the conversation diverges. A trunk to that tree may be conceived as a conversation about making a video game, for example, and the branches may be the types of video games to make such as a fantasy role-playing game, action adventure, etc. Rooms can be zoomed in to the point of being a first-person view and teleported around in using one of the controllers or zoomed out to see the conversation as a whole.
This is a non-linear professional VR creative tool, it is not a simple chat application. It is for those who value quality communication. Thinkithing essentially offers the benefit of conversation based time and space travel. In other words, any discussion can be caught up on later or spatially explored, much like cave paintings.
A conversation may start at one point in time and have an undetermined endpoint. Collaboration could evolve over hours, days, months, or even years. These conversations can be saved and returned to later for reference or shared with whomever the user wishes to send them to.
There are many uses besides ideation, others include therapeutic applications such as; solving relationship problems, group therapy, or it could be used by therapists for understanding more about their individual patients.
Thinkithing solves the problem of making inefficient conversation choices among qualified, intelligent stakeholders. It is a tool that could change the concept of the meeting into more practical and productive use of time. It incorporates an efficient visual method of pooling creativity and is assisted by Artificial Intelligence so that the experience is fluid and enjoyable. One day AI may even help in the conversation itself as an intellectual contributor or referee.