|June 01, 1999|
VIDEO & AUDIO STREAMING
The second technological restraint that is overshadowed by Internet speeds is hardware and software limitations. Intel recently announced the release of Pentium III's, which according to Intel are the fastest Pentium chips yet. Although these chips may be faster other hardware components such as video cards must also be improved. Software must also be rewritten in newer programming languages such as Java in order to take advantage of these advancements.
One of the latest developments that take advantage of faster Internet speeds and computer hardware is video and audio streaming over the Internet. Although the actual viewing window and resolution is not yet comparable to a standard television set the stepping stones for Internet broadcasting have been laid.
Video & Audio Players
One of the most significant progressions has been in the video player sector. Streaming tools utilize advanced multimedia technology to deliver audio and/or video content to users as it is being downloaded, as opposed to after it has been completely downloaded. RealNetNorks' RealPlayer was the first audio/video streaming software introduced and is still one of the big players, but it has its hands full with competitive offerings like Microsofts Media Player.
The quality of audio and video streamed over the Internet is not as good as a home video on VHS would be it does, however, have several benefits. The first benefit is that a user does not have to make a capital expenditure for special hardware such as a VCR or DVD player. The majority of computers purchased over the past several years contain the hardware components required to view streaming video and audio. Shareware versions of media players such as RealNetworks' RealPlayer or Microsoft's Media Player can be obtained on the Internet at very little or no cost. Once downloaded the player can be installed with a minimum of hassle and you're ready to stream audio and video over the Internet.
Streaming video and audio technology can be applied to a web site for a number of different applications. Take for example a corporation's annual general meeting. The meeting can be recorded and made available through the web site to shareholder's that were unable to attend the meeting. Speeches at conferences can also be recorded and be made available through the web site to give delegates an archive of speeches that they may or may not have had time to attend. In fact, some conferences even charge on-line delegates a subscription fee to view them on-line.
In the future moviegoers will no longer need to rush to return videos to the video rental stores. After searching for the movie of your choice and paying a nominal fee you will be able to stream it into your entertainment system for your viewing pleasure. Although this is not good news for video manufacturers or those that rent them It is definitely long overdue for the rest of us.
Another exciting development in Internet technology is the ability to broadcast video and audio in real time. Although the attempt by Broadcast.com to conduct a live broadcast of the Victoria's Secret fashion show was unsuccessful, the reasons why it failed were not surprising. A live Internet broadcast has a limited number of simultaneous connections available. Considering the sheer quantity of Internet users it is no surprise that all the connections were in use. Although the fashion show still went ahead the majority of Internet surfers were disappointed at not getting to see the latest in lingerie or those modeling it.
In the near future we will also start to see more and more annual meetings streamed live to shareholders over the Internet. Although the costs are still relatively high the ability to broadcast this type of information will become imperative for companies as time goes on.
David Kaiser is Senior Strategist at Adnet Communications Inc. David regularly speaks at numerous seminars and writes editorials for several publications. Adnet is a full service Internet, Multimedia, Print Media and Broadcasting Service provider with offices in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.
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