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Home » Jagriti Yatra, Mobile live video streaming

Live streaming video from your mobile

Submitted by on April 20, 2008 – 23:003 Comments

Hi all,

Now this may seem a little premature but live mobile phone video streaming from your mobile is here, and available now. Granted, in India there still isn’t a high speed 3G or 3.5G network to easily faciliate live mobile video streaming, but it’s coming and that’s probably when live video streaming from your mobile will start to take its first baby steps in the Indian market space. Both the infrastructure and the software to make it possible are two very important things for the further development and adoption of new technology on the mobile platform and I’ve recently started playing with it here in the UK. Here’s my take and what’s happening and why you early adopters in India should be keeping a keen eye on developments.

Firstly, I really do hope a viable 3G network is established in India by the end of December 2008 but I’m not holding my breath for any major surprises as there’s a lot of red tape to cut through and a lot of spectrum to sell before the transmission masts start going up. My ultimate hope is to be able to live stream from the Jagriti Yatra train so that the world can view out journey as it happens in glorious, all be it slightly grainy video.

So, you’re all wondering by now what the heck I’m talking about. This is how it works. You have a mobile phone which has a camera on it. It’s something most of us have today. Most mobiles can also record video and a lot of you have probably recorded videos on your mobiles already and probably uploaded them on to Orkut, Facebook, Myspace or Youtube. This is the conventional, normal way of doing things. Enter live streaming. This enables you to record a video on your mobile and in real-time transmit it up to the web, either directly to a mass content delivery service like Youtube or to a specialist web site. As this is going on, others anywhere in the world with a fast enough broadband connection can watch your video stream, live. There’s usually a notable amount of delay. Depending on your mobile phones network speed you can get delays of a few seconds, all the way up to a couple of minutes. I’ve experiemented with live streaming from my home wifi network which results in very little network lag.

I’m currently aware of two items of software that’ll allow you to live stream from your mobile. Firstly, there’s QIK . They’re still in alpha test phase so you’ll have to queue up to get an account. For those who don’t know, alpha test phase means that the author of the software has released a very early version of the software and it getting limited number of people to trial it and report back bugs and other problems with the software so that the author can improve things in the software and add new features. To use QIK, you have to go to their web site and sign up. An SMS gets sent to your mobile to verify your mobile phone number and then you wait, usually about 24 to 48 hours to get a link to download the software over the air dirctly to your mobile.  I’m using a Nokie N82 and N95 which both un the S60 operating system on which QIK appears to run smoothly. It may also work on Sony Ericcson phones as well as others, but I’ve not tested this out yet.

Here’s an example of a movie I recorded directly on my Nokia N95 this morning on my way to work:

My first impressions of QIK were good, especially when streaming from the wifi hot spot at home and in my office. Outside in the street when I was on a 3G connection the lag was about two to three minutes. If you’re moving on a bus or in a car the lag dramatically increases. I’ve network seen lag (the time it takes the video to go from your mobile to internet) of up to ten minutes on a few occasions. When I’m within 3.5G coverage the lag is around 20-30 seconds which is quite acceptable, given the nascent stage of this technology. As you live-stream, the video goes up to the QIK web site. Anyone on the QIK home page will see a thumbnail of your video with a “Live” strip across it. If you click on it you’ll start to view whoever it is that’s streaming live at that moment in time. Once you stop recording video it gets archived in your online QIK account where you can tag it and describe it so that others can find your video. The other nice feature is a “private” option which means you can stream up the QIK web site but no one else will be able to watch. This might be useful if you’re just recording something to for others to watch later on. One of the biggest annoyances of QIK is that there’s no way to search for anything on their web site which actually makes it hard to find your own video on the web site unless log in in to your account first. That’s quite annoying when you’re trying to send somebody, who’s not signed up to QIK, a link to your live stream. I’ve still not worked out an easy way to do this. Come on QIK! Sort it out! 🙂

The other option to live stream video from your mobile is Flixwagon which is also in early alpha test phase. I’ve yet to get my account confirmed on Flixwagon but one cool feature I’ve noticed on their web site is the ability to live stream directly up to Youtube and also search for video stored in their database. These two features are both missing from QIK. I’m still waiting for my Flixwagon account to be set up so I’ve not got any comments yet about the quality of the service in general. I’ll let you all know how I get on with Flixwagon at a later date.

One thing to keep in mind about both these services and any other like it is that they’re VERY data intensive. Unless you’re on an unlimited data plan, you’re going to rack up a HUGE phone bill. This is luckily something that’s already very sorted in India. You’ve already got a good selection of flat fee, “eat as much as you like” data tariffs. Don’t let this totally put you at ease as most network carries will impose a fair usage policy on your account and give you a number of warnings when you exceed your limits before they’ll get nasty and probably cut you off. Basically, go easy and don’t over do the streaming. In future, the networks will probably increase the data limits but it’ll be a long while befoe you see totally unlimted data capacity.

Live streaming opens up a whole raft of “interesting” questions and concerns. I’m sure you can all think of the REALLY bad things one could do with live mobile streaming but I’m a technologist and I’m not here to preach caution or put the fear of god in to you about the all the BAD things this technology could entail. There are a lot of positive things about live mobile streaming. One one swoop it shrinks the work right down in size and makes us all citizen video journalists. Capture amazing moments in history such as a sports event, show the world around your city, record family occassions such as weddings so that others who couldn’t make it can be part of the special day and use it in many business applications. The list of positive things one could do with live video streaming from your mobile is endless.  As I mentioned at the top of this blog entry, I’m really hoping that the Indian 3G network is up and running by the end of this year. If that happens, expect a lot of live video streaming from the Jagriti Yatra train and from the various places we’ll be visiting at each stop. This is totally cool technology.

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