Published: 24th April 2020
Move over Zoom, hello Sync: NIT Rourkela students develop a Made in India video-conferencing app that can compete with Zoom
Named Sync, the developers claim that the application has none of the security concerns that Zoom does. The team that developed this app intends to offer it for free to educational institutions
Now that we have all switched to apps to look at each other's faces during the lockdown, new problems are emerging. Take Zoom, an app developed by US-based Zoom Video Communications, for example. It is being termed as 'not a safe platform' with regards to security, even by our own government. Students of NIT Rourkela have come up with a closed video-conferencing application that can prove to be a game-changer. Abhijeet Sahoo, one of the makers of the app, tells us how.
All that they have to offer
Abhijeet and a few other friends were working on a platform, MyOrg360 for over 10 months. This EdTech start-up had onboarded 18 schools and promised them that they will offer end-to-end solutions for everything management-related, from attendance management to report cards. The plus point of this project was that it was available in Odia, Hindi and English. While this side of business has come to a standstill because of the lockdown, their video-conferencing app, Sync, is a coincidence, says Abhijeet. "We started working on Sync towards the end of January, for about two and a half months. That's when the Coronavirus scare began. And when complaints about Zoom started coming in, we thought Sync could be a possible alternative to it," he explains.
There is an option of echo testing before you begin the conference call
The very first merits of Sync that we were introduced to upon trying the app was that it is a closed app and can be accessed only if you have been invited. Also, on one conference call, as many as 1,000 people can join in and there is no limit to the duration of the call either. It offers HD voice and video quality and for those who don't have a smartphone can still join in via a call and listen to the audio. "This can help all those students who don't have access to a smartphone," says the 24-year-old. There are presentation tools like a whiteboard, screen-sharing feature, real-time chat and you can record the call as well. Now as far as security concerns go, he clearly tells us that there is no external application required to download and SSL encryption ensures privacy. They use Amazon Web Services (AWS) as their server and even have AI-based fraud detection in place. Phew!
Here comes the lead
All this, of course, wasn't easy. And the seven members from the technical team of MyOrg360, including Abhijeet, discovered this earlier enough. That's when they thought about getting external help from an alumnus of NIT Rourkela, R Monik. A Full-Stack Developer with more than eight years of experience, Monik quickly became the Lead Architect of the app, and as Abhijeet puts it, "developed the skeleton of the app." Their team members were all over the country, Bhubaneswar, Berhampur, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and it did become a little difficult to keep track but they used Slack, a project management tool, that helped them keep an eye on who is doing what.
Testing | (Pic: Sync)
All those who were involved in developing Sync worked voluntarily and though the server cost and the RAM space was expensive, they kept at it. "We have spoken to the government officials in Odisha and are hoping that if they cover the server cost, we are ready to provide it for free to educational institutions," he says. Which will be extremely helpful, considering the times we are in.