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.
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.
Michael Kassner is currently a systems manager for an international company. Together with his son, he runs MKassner Net, a small IT publication consultancy.