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Low-Latency Streaming for Interactive Video

Low latency streaming presently holds much promise for a variety of applications, but it is not quite at a technical level where it has been readily adopted for all streaming applications. “What are the technical and business objections that [are] currently withholding people from really going all the way [with it]?” Mark De Jong, Co-Founder, and Chairman, CDN Alliance, asks Bill Wishon, Chief Product Officer, Phenix Real Time Solutions.

Wishon first provides an anecdote. “I used to work for a guy named Philippe Kahn, an inventor and a serial entrepreneur who very successfully started multiple businesses and sold them. I had the opportunity to have dinner with him once. I asked him, what was it that he did to be serially successful like that, and I'm paraphrasing, but he said: basically, looking for the value in what he's doing, providing value out of his company. And I mention this because if you think of real-time and lowering latencies as something that has value, where are these value points in the market? Is there value in being able to interact with one another in real-time?” Wishon goes on to highlight that while COVID obviously proved the inherent value in being able to interact with people globally over video calls, beyond that, ultra-low latency has the potential to unlock unique and unprecedented experiences for users.

“At Phenix we're delivering video for things like auctions that require real-time,” Wishon says. “We're delivering video for sports and sports gambling like horse racing, enabling people to interact through gambling and gamification that adds additional value on top of just sitting back and watching the content.” He continues to emphasize that while the traffic for low latency live interactive video streaming is still below 50%, “they're starting to become high profile events with high scale. And I think we'll start to see more people adopt it as these use cases become obvious.” For example, he notes the work that Phenix has done with Verizon, with a multi-view application for the Super Bowl and their in-stadium experience.

Jeroen Mol, VP of Innovation, Livery Video, agrees with Wishon. “I think interaction is going to be the driver of low latency video streaming. The question is, how low do you need to go?” Mol says. “But interactive live streams are not there yet. You see them, but you lack the interactive capabilities on top of the live streams that enrich the video. I think that in the near future, you [will] see more sports events or conferences or other life events where interaction is a key element of the viewing experience. And when that happens…that is the moment where I see the global adoption of low latency video…the question is how low?”

“Well, zero – real-time,” says Keith Chow, Senior Product Manager, IP Network Nokia, with a laugh.

Moll says that while there are still many technical challenges to reaching ultra-low latency, Livery Video is working on solving them. “So, if there is packet loss, or if the whole family is streaming Netflix at home while somebody else is watching a live stream, you need to accommodate for that,” he says. “And that is where we see a sweet spot around low latency with interactivity, and then especially interactivity that is structured between three and five seconds...that is where we are aiming for.”

Learn more about Low-Latency Streaming at Streaming Media West 2022.

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