Mobile Streaming

Streaming to the Phone with QuickTime
Flash Lite on the Phone and Streaming with FMS
Streaming from the Phone

Live Streaming to Phone

Many mobile phones now have the ability to receive streams of video. Broadcasters, content providers and mobile network providers seem to love this. It uses up bandwidth (which costs consumers money), it can utilize micro payments for content and it provides a new and interesting venue for content outside of the home.

I find the what the broadcasters and mobile providers to be somewhat interesting technically and they are doing a bit of pushing against the boundaries of what television has been for the past 50 years with shorter segments.

Supported by their high-speed EVDO (Evolution Data Only) network Verizon has a service called VCast which offers many of the things you have seen on the internet for media delivery: Live Streaming, Video On Demand, Music Downloads and Gaming.

The other providers are following suit:
One thing that is perfectly clear is that providers intend to make serious money off of this and pricing is high.

For our purposes, what the broadcasters and the mobile providers are doing isn't as interesting as the fact that we can stream to mobile phones as well. Both the RealServer and the QuickTime Streaming Server support streaming of video to the phones utilizing the 3GP video format.

The streaming is easy: For Live QuickTime streaming you can use the QuickTime Broadcaster with the 3GP presets. Real has a Mobile Producer that can be used for both live and on-demand production as well.

The hard part is getting the link to the content to the mobile phone user. We could create a set of WML or HTML pages that are developed for display on the phone or even easier we can send links via email to SMS.

(Careful, streaming video costs the user at data rates. I spent $30 once watching a video for a couple of minutes before purchasing an unlimited plan.)

What's Next:
More Information:

Flash Lite

Flash is a relatively newcomer to the mobile development scene but it has made some big waves already. Since there is a large community of developers and designers who use Flash in their daily lives, being able to run Flash based applications on mobile phones is a big deal.

Aside from that, Flash, due to it's history is a pretty strong fit for mobile development, it has a small footprint, the apps are small, it is somewhat close to a write once run anywhere type of platform and so on. It is also very strong in some areas that Java has been weak such as animation and media playback.

It is worthwhile to look at Flash, especially now that Flash Lite 3 supports FLV content (the seeming format of choice for web based video) along with MPEG-4 (variants such as 3gp and 3g2 depending on the device).

Currently Flash Lite 3 does not come pre-installed on many devices (perhaps the N95 8GB model) but can be downloaded for free from Adobe: Download Adobe Flash Lite 3 Developer Edition (This is an application that must be installed on the phone.)

To author for Flash Lite 3 you need to use Flash CS3 or greater. You can auther for previous versions of Flash Lite using previous versions of Flash but you loose out on many of the goodies that Flash Lite 3 offers.

Hello World with Flash Lite (using Flash CS3)
  1. Open Flash CS3 (Professional)
  2. New File, Flash File (Mobile)
  3. Choose Flash 3 device, set Player Version to Flash Lite 3.0, ActionScript 2.0, Standalone Player
  4. Click "Create"
  5. This opens up Flash with the settins for publishing to that device (any Flash Lite 3 phone
  6. In the Tools panel, select the "T" for text and click on the workspace. Type in "Hello World".
  7. Make sure in the properties panel that it is "Static Text"
  8. Under "Control" select "Test Movie" and it will open in the emulator portion of the Device Central application.
  9. Following that, back in the Flash program you can publish and send it to your phone for testing

More Information
Mobile and Devices Developer Center
Getting Started with Adobe Flash Lite
Book: Foundation Flash Applications for Mobile Devices

Flash Lite Video Player

This describes how to make a video player in Flash Lite 3.

ActionScript Code

var ncVideo:NetConnection  = new NetConnection();
var ns:NetStream = new NetStream(ncVideo);  
Of course the RTMP address and the stream name have to be something that is being published..

More Information
Creating video content for mobile devices
Flash Lite 3 video capabilities
How to play FLV videos from YouTube using Flash Lite 3
Authoring mobile video content for Flash Lite 2.x

Live Streaming from the phone

Wow..! Check this out: Broadcasting Live from Cellphone to the Web

i started playing a bit as well: ComVu - Mobile Broadcasting and Double Wow..

Other live streaming from the phone software:
Motvik Wigo

Mobile Video Revolution?