Producing Participatory Media
Class 8 - July 25


  • Mobile Phone Video Streaming
  • Call it in ...

  • Mobile Phone Video Streaming

    Along with the ability to shoot video mobile phones now support 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. Demo

    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 QuickTime on demand you need to "hint" the file just like any other streaming content and put it on the QuickTime Streaming Server. 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.

    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:

    Call it in...

    Last week we posted video to our blogs from our phones, how about audio?

    Asterisk which is an Open Source PBX (Private Branch eXchange) in combination with low-cost VoIP (Voice Over IP) service makes these types of activities easy.

    Asterisk has a full programming interface called AGI (Asterisk Gateway Interface) which is a bit out of the scope of this class. But with some simple scripting in Perl, PHP, Java and the like, Asterisk can provide a fully interactive telephone system which has interesting uses in the world of participatory media creation. The least of which is simply automatically posting to a blog (like we did last week).

    Fortunately, the capabilities of delivering voice via email is directly built in and we just need to record a voice prompt for any particular project and tell Asterisk where to email the file. Following that we can use the same mail parsing application (just like we used last week) to post to our blogs or do something else with the audio file.

    Try it out: Call 646.205.0419, push 0 then 9 and then record after the beep.