Pipes at Pompidou Paris

StreamRoot, Viblast, Pipe and Mera Showcase Data Channel Solution at WebRTC Paris

WebRTC is mainly viewed as a technology for voice and video. Many think highly of the opportunity the data channel presents but only a few use it for services that are not related with voice and video collaboration.

Given the capability of WebRTC to enable browser-to-browser communication it can be used for peer-assisted content delivery saving content owner bandwidth cost, increasing scalability and service quality.

StreamRoot, Viblast, Pipe and Mera will showcase their recent realizations during a start-up demo session at the WebRTC Paris conference.

Pipes at Pompidou Paris

Let’s look a bit into what these companies and demos comprise.

French start up StreamRoot was founded in 2013 At the edge of HTML5 adaptive streaming technology, StreamRoot created the first MPEG-DASH peer-assisted video player working for both Live and Video on Demand streaming, and have since expanded its expertise to other adaptive streaming formats and platforms.

Bulgarian start-up Viblast has added to its live video streaming platform a support for much requested adaptive bitrate streaming.

This functionality works in two ways:

– Automatic, where the platform offers the highest bitrate (stream quality) possible based on each viewer’s bandwidth (and adjusts it as it fluctuates during playback) and screen size,

– Manual, which allows viewers to select the bitrate themselves through a designated control in the Viblast player.

Pipe, a Berlin based startup brought the latest WebRTC technology to its peer-to-peer file transfer service on Facebook. The Pipe app allows people on Facebook to connect by sending and receiving files up to 1 GB in a way that is simple, fast, private and secure. No one else can access the file because it’s a transfer directly between two friends: just pick a friend and drop a file into the Pipe. Pipe is among the first to integrate WebRTC within a consumer app.

Mera engineers have done a pilot project leveraging the capabilities of data channel for MSRP-based transfer of text messages and files. With this practical knowledge and results MERA plan commercial outsourced development around WebRTC. Mera is a Russian company.

Visit the conference website for more information about the Data Channel training, lectures and demos.

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unltd.fr-WebRTC

WebRTC Rocks for Music

Live DJ broadcasts powered by WebRTC

Please…not another video conferencing enterprise/consumer/whatever service of 2,4,6…people talking and chatting. Well, this one sure isn’t!

The exciting thing about WebRTC is that you can never predict what applications it will serve. Although many players are investing in these classic video conferencing services, others are using it for completely different applications. Such is the case with a French startup founded in 2013 by Yannick Gouez, Eymeric Pierre-Louis and Romain Agostini.

Introducing unltd.fm

unltd.fm is at the crossroads of Music Streaming Services and Web Radios: the startup offers an interface that allows DJs and Radio Hosts to produce live and interactive music broadcasts. With this platform, DJs and Radio personalities are able to create their own broadcasts directly from their web browser: Log-in, plug-in your equipment or use the in-browser mixing console and you’re ready to go.

Music Fans can discover music through live broadcast indexed by their musical content (Artist played, Music Style, Tempo, Popularity, etc.). Viewers can also interact with the broadcast using Social Networks like Twitter and Instagram and can also Comment, “Like” and Share the tracks played. 
 Untld.fm claims to offer viewers the experience of what “Smart Radios” should really be.

 

unltd.fr-WebRTC

This web broadcasting service uses WebRTC as its core technology. “In the beginning, there were Shoutcast servers, created in 1999, and Icecast (open source). These servers had become pretty much the standards but remained complicated tools to use because you needed to know how to configure them. The arrival of HTML5 APIs have greatly simplified things,” explains Yannick Gouez. “Our service is live: the concept is that of a radio. It works in one to many broadcasting and can be scaled to support a high amount of simultaneous listeners”.

The core technology relies on a WebRTC MCU that allows to establish One-To-Many broadcasting connection from the Broadcaster to the listeners.

A Broadcasting gateway is also being implemented in order to allow ‘standard’ and plugin-less broadcasting to non-WebRTC devices (iOS devices, smartTVs, etc.).

Automatic ‘over-the-line’ track detection is provided by an Audio Fingerprinting engine integrated into the MCU.

“We have optimized our WebRTC platform to allow OPUS Stereo 48Khz broadcasting which provides a better quality than MP3”.

 

While Audio and Video streams are broadcasted using one-to-many connections over webRTC, the interactive features rely on the Data Channel.

Among Technical challenge faced are:

  • Achieving high quality audio broadcasting over the open internet using WebRTC
  • Feeding WebRTC with WebAudio
  • Broadcasting to non-WebRTC browser & devices (currently in development)

 

Untld.fm is going after the semi-professional DJ market, a rapidly growing population that needs to federate its fans. “Typically, a DJ who broadcasts one show per week and who is going to reach 100 to 150 listeners. There are many analogies with the principal of the webinar,” points out Yannick Gouez.

 

Untld.fm is currently in Alpha version with Beta version planned for Q4 2014.

Applications for the Beta program are open on untld.fm

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Nikolay Rodionov

Another View on WebRTC Data Channel – Interview with StreamRoot

Nikolay RodionovContinuing the WebRTC Data Channel series of interviews I took the opportunity to get Nikolay Robionov’s, Co-Founder of StreamRoot, point of view.

Can you tell us what your company is all about and what makes it stick out of the crowd of WebRTC start-ups?

Nikolay Rodionov:

StreamRoot is a peer-to-peer video delivery solution that helps online broadcasters to cut their bandwidth costs by up to 90%, while improving the quality of streaming. Our solution also solves the scaling issues most of the big streaming platforms still struggle with, as its efficiency increases with the number of simultaneous users.

Unlike other WebRTC DataChannel startups, our company is focused on video streaming, because video is very data consuming (it will represent 70% of total web traffic in 2017!), and because video providers have very specific needs. We work together with our clients to give them a solution that integrates almost instantly in their workflow, and provides a completely seamless experience for the end-user.

We are always on the edge of the technology, and succeeded to have the first commercial P2P player for Live Streaming on the market, and the support of adaptive bitrate technologies as MPEG-DASH. We want to become the reference in P2P video streaming by leveraging WebRTC, and we already are acknowledged as such by the the biggest players in the industry.

StreamRoot-Solution-Diagram

The data channel is one of the more interesting capabilities of WebRTC with boundless innovation opportunities. How are you innovating with it?

Nikolay Rodionov:

We saw data channels as a huge opportunity to deeply transform how the web is working today. Datachannels enables to create client-to-client transfers of any type of data without anything to install on top of the browsers, so we decided to use it to create a distributed video delivery solution. Data channels enable us to not struggle too much with the very low-level transfer issues, so we can concentrate on build a complex peer-to-peer protocol optimized for video streaming.

While there are many start-ups dealing with WebRTC not many of them are looking at the data channel. Do you think there is any special reason for that?

Nikolay Rodionov:

WebRTC was created by people and companies coming from the Telcos, so their number one focus was the Visio-conference usecase. They see WebRTC as an evolution of their existing protocols and softwares ported into the browsers, so they are not very interested in Datachannels. But WebRTC Datachannels has given developers a completely new possibilities to interact on the web, and we think the biggest innovations will come from this area as WebRTC will become more mainstream.

Lately there has been a lot of buzz around net neutrality and the FCC actions in this regards. In addition to that there are announcements about Netflix relationship with Comcast and Verizon, while on the other hand there are rumors about Netflix looking at P2P technology to save on bandwidth and cost. Can your company provide remedy to this issue and does Net Neutrality impact your solution?

Nikolay Rodionov:

Yes StreamRoot is a very good solution for this problem, as our system is relieving the congestions in the interconnection points between big video plaforms and ISPs. The end-users doesn’t need to fetch the data from the Netflix servers anymore, but can get it from the nearest peer, who can be his neighbor. And our solution benefits not only the video platform, but also the ISPs, because we optimize our peer network so the data travels less and stays in the same ISP network if possible.

If the FCC new propositions pass, bandwidth will become even more expensive, and the demand for a solution like ours will grow even more. I don’t think ISPs will be able to block all the WebRTC communications, so they will not be able to block peer-to-peer delivery, and that could be the solution for a lot of video websites who wouldn’t have the money to pay millions for a fast lane.

Are there any customers already using it? Can you name a few?

Nikolay Rodionov:

We did some great publicly demonstrated pilots with France Televisions in December and Level3 at the NAB show last month. We have several pilots running with big Live Streaming providers (main French TV Channels, as well as OTT services like PlayTV), and are in a pre-production phase with some large VOD platforms.

What’s next for your company?

Nikolay Rodionov:

Our next biggest focus is to expand internationally, and get even more clients and use cases to prove to the broadcasting world that this technology is ready for production.

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Petar Bojkov

Exploiting WebRTC Data Channel Potential: Interview with Viblast

Petar BojkovFollowing my previous post about companies using the WebRTC data channel I started doing some in-depth interviews with a few of them. This is the first interview done with Petar Bojkov, COO of Viblast.

Can you tell us what your company is all about and what makes it stick out of the crowd of WebRTC start-ups?

Petar Bojkov:

Viblast is providing scalable video streaming solutions. Our software platform addresses the unique challenges of broadcasters and over-the-top (OTT) video content providers to reliably deliver high quality video to an ever-growing number of broadband viewers worldwide. Viblast’s groundbreaking functionality relies on the principle of a peer-assisted Content Delivery Network (CDN), where content is delivered to end-viewers using a traditional CDN model improved by the addition of a peer-to-peer (P2P) layer between users.

Our solution uses WebRTC’s data channel to exchange video/audio data chunks between users. While the prevalent uses of WebRTC we’ve seen so far have been centered around making video calls, Viblast tackles a larger scale problem which is poised to grow in parallel with the exponential demand for video streaming.

Viblast-Solutionn-Diagram

The data channel is one of the more interesting capabilities of WebRTC with boundless innovation opportunities. How are you innovating with it?

Petar Bojkov:

Theoretically, the data channel has unlimited potential. However, current implementations usually assume that the data channel will be used for small amounts of data. As Viblast is one of the few companies using the data channel to transfer more than simple text messages between users, we were one of the first developers that tried to pass big chunks of data between peers.

Of course, being off the beaten track is very interesting and challenging. We had to solve some unique challenges, the answers to which cannot be found with a simple web search. We also had to implement various workarounds such as limiting the amount of data we are sending in one message.

While there are many start-ups dealing with WebRTC not many of them are looking at the data channel. Do you think there is any special reason for that?

Petar Bojkov:

The core idea behind WebRTC is to provide a real time communications stack for the web and as such, most startups tend to focus on this space, building one video calling app after another. Since video calling does not require a data channel to work, it gets largely ignored. Such a pity, since there are many interesting use cases of the data channel that would solve real world problems.

An example would be Viblast as a peer augmented CDN using the data channel for peers to communicate, another interesting use is direct file sharing between browsers and yet another one would be a distributed web without servers. The list goes on and I expect that once the initial hype with video calling starts to fade, we will see more and more of these use cases taking advantage of WebRTC’s data channel.

Lately there has been a lot of buzz around net neutrality and the FCC actions in this regards. In addition to that there are announcements about Netflix relationship with Comcast and Verizon, while on the other hand there are rumors about Netflix looking at P2P technology to save on bandwidth and cost. Can your company provide remedy to this issue and does Net Neutrality impact your solution?

Petar Bojkov:

The recent Netflix – Comcast deal and the surrounding net neutrality debate is an interesting issue when considered in the context of Viblast as Viblast’s technology has a potential impact on both. As it currently stands, Netflix streams directly to their subscribers, each subscriber consuming gigabytes upon gigabytes of data, which are delivered by Netflix’s own infrastructure and Amazon Web Services. With the planned move to Ultra HD (4K), these numbers are set to grow in the coming years. Streaming to millions of users is an expensive proposition and the recent Netflix – Comcast peering agreement only compounds the total cost for Netflix.

Are there any customers already using it? Can you name a few?

Petar Bojkov:

Although a young company offering an innovative and yet market unproven solution, interest for our product has been strong and the company is making strides. Viblast is running pilots for a few TV stations, including a national TV channel and a couple of OTT video providers.

What’s next for your company?

Petar Bojkov:

Obtaining a patent for our technology, opening an office in North America and aggressively expanding our customer base once Viblast’s technology becomes more mainstream.

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Connected Data Peers in WebRTC

The non-Telecom Side of WebRTC Data Channel

Connected Data Peers in WebRTCGet rid off servers, save bandwidth! Easy to say, hard to realize. Swarmify, Viblast, Peer5, StreamRoot and Pipe focus their efforts on data transmission of video images and/or file transfer. These innovative start-ups have begun to launch their commercial products in 2014. Their forceful argument? WebRTC data channel uses peers to send data, creating opportunities for innovation and lower cost content distribution without the need for a browser plug-in.

Data channel gets ignored: Such a pity

There are more and more companies dealing with WebRTC but not many of them are looking at the data channel. Many of those who are using it are looking at it as an add-on to voice and video communications services. This is mainly because early adopters of WebRTC are coming mainly from the VoIP and telecom market. Many try to force it into their existing approaches instead of creating new services with it. Some have taken WebRTC to new domains and utilized only the benefits of its data channel part:

  • Peer-to-Peer communication
  • Zero download of plug-ins
  • Secured/encrypted communication

“WebRTC data channels has given developers new possibilities to interact on the web, and we think the biggest innovations will come from this area as WebRTC will become more mainstream” explains Nikolay Rodionov, co-founder of StreamRoot, a French startup providing peer-to-peer video distribution service. The start-up has three pilot customers (France Television, Orange, L’equipe) and claims to reduce bandwidth cost by 50% to 90% thanks to its video streaming technology and adaptive bitrate streaming tool. “Since video calling does not require a data channel to work, it gets largely ignored. Such a pity, since there are many interesting use cases of the data channel that would solve real world problems” says Peter Bojkov, COO of Viblast, a Bulgarian start-up providing scalable video streaming solutions.

Not only video streaming

Other startups are using the WebRTC data channel for a wider set of content distribution use cases. Swarmify recently launched their first commercially available service utilizing WebRTC to distribute website video and images. Pricing plans span from free to paid Enterprise grade options. “Free plans allow users to test Swarmify. It allows them to understand Simultaneous Connections and how this number can reduce their content distribution costs by using our service. Many customers are saving 50% to 75%“ stated Jesse Delia, Swarmify Partner. Peer5, a Palo Alto start-up, redesigned its platform so it would be useful for many use cases, not only video streaming, but also audio, games, image delivery and file transfer.
The new peer5 downloader is now out in beta. “Why are we doing all of this? Many developers had asked us to help them deliver their web apps, but unfortunately our solution was only for video.
Video is cool, but there are so many other varieties of media, and we wanted to provide a more inclusive and generic web peer-to-peer platform.
Our service is helpful in scenarios that require high bandwidth and great performance, and now it’s as encompassing as ever” explains Hadar Weiss, Peer5 Co-Founder and CTO. Pipe, a Berlin­based startup has brought the latest WebRTC technology to its peer­to­peer file transfer service on Facebook. The Pipe app allows people on Facebook to connect by sending and receiving files up to 1 GB in a way that is simple, fast, private and secure. According to Simon Hossell, Founder & CEO of Pipe. “This is ground­breaking technology, essentially re­wiring the Internet. WebRTC allows us to connect and communicate directly with each other through the computer browser ­ peer­to­peer ­ instead of exchanging data with remote third-party web servers.” Pipe was first made available on Facebook in June 2013, based on Adobe Flash. The new Pipe app has been completely rebuilt using JavaScript and integrating WebRTC, instead of Flash. This was also an opportunity to simplify the user experience and make the app more robust and reliable.

CDNs and content owners are moving to Peer-to-Peer

CDN service providers and content owners are bearing increasing cost as video becomes more and more pervasive. Some such as Netflix are already making their way towards this direction. WebRTC data channel can be a solution for this need; companies in this space create a network of peers that off-load the servers when possible and save significant cost. What is your experience with WebRTC data channel? Let us know in the comments below or contact us.

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