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Live Streaming Steps In When We Can't Step Out

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We all crave human connection. That might sound a touch clichéd, but it’s an inarguable reality. And, as we continue to adjust to life under the pandemic, we are finding unique ways to not go stir crazy, interact with our loved ones and keep things "business as usual." Simply put, where there is a will, there is a way. So what exactly are people doing to keep busy when they can’t do much? Naturally, they are turning to the digital realm for just about everything.  

Being forced to stay indoors and "social distance" is not a reality anyone predicted was coming. In fact, many were hit with the news of our imminent isolation with just a few days' notice. In such a short time, life has changed drastically for each and every one of us. Parents have had to adapt to kids being home from school, employers have had to transition their workforces remote, and small and large businesses have had to think of creative ways to survive this blow to our economy. It feels like we have been couch-ridden for an eternity, but in all actuality, it’s only been a few weeks for most of us. Unfortunately, it's also going to be a few weeks longer.

While at this point, most of us possess the technological literacy to communicate with one another over the phone, email or video chat, a vast majority of us are not the most app-savvy or "on the cutting-edge" kind of consumers. We use the technology that we feel comfortable with and we don’t necessarily seek out the novel or trendy stuff—until now.

It would be an understatement to say that there has been anything short of a mass adoption of applications powered by real-time, interactive streaming technologies among consumers. When the pandemic started rearing its ugly head in China, we began to see an uptick in app downloads, use of interactive livestreaming features, and remote platform adoption. At my company, Agora.io, we have already seen some extremely creative applications of our real-time voice and video software development kit. The requests to integrate our technology into many leading apps continue to ramp up, and we are seeing a good number of folks consider adopting technology they may not have thought suited their business before the pandemic came in and disrupted our lives.

Unsurprisingly, this trend trickled over into just about every country that was forced to quarantine or live under "stay-at-home" orders. It’s safe to say we put our foot down, refused to be bored, and pivoted away from twiddling our thumbs.

Perhaps most predictably, workplaces moved online before opting to close their doors. For most white-collar jobs, this infrastructure might have already been in place with collaboration platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams. These types of businesses typically see distributed workforces and clientele, making them more likely to have employees familiar with how to work from anywhere in the world. That being said, this wasn’t the case for all, and many employers had to drum up a plan to move their companies online—fast.  

Other trends in workplace behavior have included the advent or normalization of virtual happy hours and lunches. Team members are able to break up the monotony of the day by using real-time communications to "hang out" with one another. Because we have networks powerful enough to house many people in virtual rooms without disruption or lag, these interactions are meaningful and engaging. 

Some of the more surprising industries to transfer into the digital realm have existed in spaces we traditionally deemed to be dependent on brick-and-mortar locations. For instance, many think that therapy would have to be administered on a face-to-face basis. However, apps like Talkspace have seen an increase in users during the pandemic, as their service provides therapy sessions powered by live video chat. With environmental stressors at an all-time high, the need to link patients to the services they need is more important than ever. If we didn’t have low-latency voice and video, our means of communication would simply not be powerful enough to pick up on crucial body language or mannerisms to make the session worthwhile.

Another way that consumers have been trying to maintain well-being is by way of apps that bring a great workout right into their living rooms. With most gyms and studios closed down indefinitely, the fitness-minded have turned to apps like Nike Training Club and LiveKick to burn off excess energy. Through live-streamed workouts and training sessions, we don’t have to settle for the unhealthy behaviors that are often associated with saying indoors. For many, this has been central in staying positive, sane and as on-track as possible.

What does all this mean for the future? While the circumstances are grim, the pandemic is shedding light on how agile technology can make us. Forced to stay indoors, we have found numerous ways to connect with one another for work, play and beyond. It’s safe to predict that much of the technology folks are picking up in the wake of the crisis will likely stick once it’s over and life has returned to some level of normalcy.

[Editor's Note: This is a contributed byline from Agora.io. Streaming Media accepts vendor bylines based solely on their value to our readers.]

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