Networking

Livecast: DIY webcasts using your phone

A company called ComVu has just released “Livecast”, innovative technology that facilitates DIY webcasting. In only a few minutes, anyone using a cell phone camera can be streaming live multimedia just like professionals.

I stumbled across something today that is, to say the least, uniquely interesting. A company called ComVu just released "Livecast" innovative technology that facilitates DIY webcasting. In only a few minutes, anyone using a cell phone camera can be streaming live multimedia just like professionals. Okay, quality may not be quite the same, but it does seem to have potential.

How does it works?

Basically, "PocketCaster" (installed app on the cell phone) transmits streaming multimedia from the cell phone's digital camera to ComVu's patent-pending Bandwidth Exchange (BE) servers via the cell phone's Internet connection. Here are the interesting bits, as mentioned on ComVu's Web site:

"When the ComVu PocketCaster software is launched, a user signs into the online service and is ready to webcast. Transmission can begin immediately or be scheduled in advance. A link to the webcast is automatically created by the ComVu BE system and the webcast is streamed to one or one thousand viewers. (ComVu's solution solves the problem of restricted wireless bandwidth, which exists regardless of improvements in smartphone processing power.)"

Who can watch?

Livecast gives you the opportunity to notify others that you're streaming multimedia so they can view it real time. The streaming multimedia is also concurrently archived on ComVu servers for watching at a later or more convenient time. The diagram below (courtesy of ComVu) explains the simple steps required to start broadcasting your own live webcast.

livecast-_-mobile-video-anywhere-anytime.jpg

QoS concerns

ComVu also considered the QoS problems normally seen with streaming multimedia and has taken the following steps to help eliminate jitter and latency issues:

"ComVu's streaming servers take advantage of optimized peering with ten tier-1 Internet backbone providers via InterNAP's patented routing technology, and unique network architecture. Reliance on this smart routing ability insures the best path is chosen for stream delivery. The network is optimized for redundant, high bandwidth IP connectivity to all major regional, pan-European, and global Internet backbones."

Viewing web portal

It's relatively easy to notify people that there's a live webcast available for them to watch. Contacts are picked from the PodCaster application or the web portal, and they will be notified via e-mail or SMS messages that there's live streaming multimedia available for them to watch. I've set up my ComVu web portal here, along with a test video that's available for viewing. I'm sure everyone will be relieved that I don't have any aspirations toward professional cinematography.

For the serious

ComVu has another option that allows the use of actual audio-video equipment instead of a cell phone. By installing "Pocketcaster Pro" on a computer, it becomes the delivery vehicle for uploading the streaming multimedia. Using Pocketcaster Pro along with better audio-video equipment, I'm sure even I could've created an epic video.

Final thoughts

There are many potential applications for technology like this. Whether it's for personal use or for business, I can think of numerous occasions when I could've used Livecast to help explain what was happening real time. The axiom of a "picture being worth a 1,000 words" is even more relevant when it's actual streaming multimedia.

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Information is my field...Writing is my passion...Coupling the two is my mission.

13 comments
juanmateu
juanmateu

Hi, we do basically the same but using native videoshare cliente in 3G handsets, we do not need to install anything on device. some video in our blog http://solaiemes.blogspot.com juan

vp_bala2000
vp_bala2000

Dear One, super idea. Do it well. By, Balaji V.P 919791118054

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

Do you see any potential uses for this technology? For use in business or just personal?

woulfe
woulfe

Solaiemes looks like it is doing some interesting things. The problem is that most U.S. networks don't support VideoShare.

bkneeland
bkneeland

I am in charge of the Lawrence Community Emergency Response Team. We are volunteers who volunteer to help out in major incidences. We just had a minor train accident that ripped open one car and dumped 1200lbs of chemicals. The are had to be evacuated. If the first person onsite had this ability and was able to link to the necessary departments, ie police, fire, FEMA, MEMA, County HazMat Team. The amount of information visually available could expidite the appropriate response. The ability to send live feed during an Emergency situation could revolutionize Emergency Response. The ability to monitor teams on on-site live from a central location could save many live. During search & rescue, providing medical evaluation live from a crash site then forwarding the video to not just the local ambulance, hospital, but specialist around the country. Then just being able to see the grandchild's birthday party. The uses are only limited by your imagination.

johnsonp
johnsonp

A local company has been using similar technology for over 2 years in our little Southwestern Iowa town to stream various school events, like sporting events, drama productions, and even graduation. There are a lot of parents (and grandparents, etc.) that cannot make it to these events, and they really appreciate the live streaming, even if the quality is not DVDquality.

pgit
pgit

I see a ton of potential for this, particularly in the civic arena.

tjohnston
tjohnston

I'm sure there will be throngs of highschool kids that will embrace this technology, should they discover it. It would only be midly amusing for older people that aren't easily amused. Maybe some specific industries could use this technology. Any service industry where you could allow customers to keep an eye on the workers at any time. If they find a way to mount a camera phone on a helmet or something you could have one for each worker in the field, allowing customers or the boss to see what they're doing at any time. Or even call a colleague for a 2nd opinion. The technology is at most mildly useful for most people over the age of 21.

neil
neil

I've been playing with this with my Nokia N95 all afternoon. Apart from some ropey footage (I turned the phone round in its holder and pointed it forwards while I drove through London) I'm really impressed. I've also managed to connect it to the wireless network in my hotel which has enabled me to up the frame rate and quality too. I love the notify bit so I can let friends know here's some footage to view. They can then choose to log on and watch it straight away or when they have time. What's really exciting is the ease of access both for the streamer and the recipient. I can immediately start broadcasting anything at any time with no uploading. Then the recipient can easily access the media through a pc or phone. Virtual presence is a real plus here - you can have a pair of eyes (Or several) anywhere there is a cameraphone. This means you can get a professional (Doctor, Engineer, Surveyor) where they are needed rapidly and at zero cost. Temporary CCTV? We're obsessed with it in the UK so look out. It could also be abused horribly as you can set up 'covert cctv' in a matter of seconds by placing the small cameraphone anywhere you want..... from now on, I'm going to check carefully before I use a changing room or public loo! Seriously, I've had a request for mobile CCTV to fit into taxi cabs - this could be the solution. I've not played with the HTML yet but I bet you could set up several streams on the same page. It may be a bit costly to keep the streaming going all the time, but if the driver could initiate a stream......... Mobile internet can we eye-wateringly expensive in the UK so I'm a little concerned about the cost. We'll see when the next bill comes through. I wonder if the streaming app can be set to switch between different networks dependant on speed and cost? At the moment you have to choose a single connection before streaming. I've not managed to post a video to youtube yet but I'll keep trying. A brilliant, brilliant innovation that really compliments Web 2.0. I wonder what ComVu's business model is and what their charges will be?

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

As a former volunteer firefighter/EMT, I also feel that this would be of great benefit to EMS. This is especially true if cell phone cameras continue to improve in quality.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

While not the best solution for remote medical emergencies of where medial practitioners are posted in remote places this would be quite useful for a Second Opinion. I always come back the the UN posting Medics to Rwanda and just how difficult it was to get any Medical Backup there. The people there while highly experienced where not specialists in all the fields necessary so they did a bit of everything just to save lives. If they did nothing the people would have died. So they did things that back home they would never consider doing and did it well. Add this type of Technology to a Satellite Phone and it would become a necessary tool to have in situations like that and be a really cheap alternative to caring tons of equipment around that was rarely used. Any form of Emergency work would also benefit no end from this technology. But I can see TV Stations using this to get members of the General Public to send them video to use on News Reports at very little expense to them. Col

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

You maybe right, but I've already used the application and I'm 55. (I also feel it is important to mention that I do not have any monetary affiliation with ComVu.) I was setting up a new rack and several routers in a data center. The rack was for a client company that headquartered in South America. They wanted to see the end results of the physical installation as well as electronic installation. I could have taken pictures and eventually emailed them, but it was quite simple to send them to the ComVu web portal and stream live video right then and there. Another neat feature I didn't think about until actually streaming multimedia was their ability to tell me exactly what they wanted to look at. I suspect that the next big leap in usability will be instantaneous multimedia streaming. It will overtake email, IM and SMS. It appears written blogs maybe losing ground to podcasts already and I consider that a stepping stone.