Live Streaming the Next Wave

One of the more compelling applications to come from the (now defunct? – No, we reported on this a couple of weeks ago -it’s said to be too important to scratch – Man Ed.) Google Glass was live video streaming. Google’s pilot program empowered the rich, famous (or about to be…) and other “trend setters” with the (OK, dorky looking) Glass head-up eyewear that was somehow just too intrusive – nerdy – or even “sketchy” to really catch on with mainstream users.

But that doesn’t mean the idea of live video streaming has to go away. Now very powerful apps recently released, Meerkat and Periscope, both empower live video streaming, that includes audio and location (we are told this is optional) on smart devices like phones and tablets. The micro broadcast feeds go out to Twitter audiences, and (going beyond even the Glass pilot project) even allow audience interactivity with the live broadcast in real-time using messaging and emojis. Implications to our culture have already been felt with citizen journalists capturing live feeds of a New York City fire, even before news media was on the scene.

Born from an experimental side project of a start-up company Life on Air (Tel Aviv, Israel) Meerkat was first to the Twitter live streaming party with the idea of using a single click in a Twitter feed to broadcast live video over the Twitter network. The activity is known as “Meerkatting” where users can stream send the live feed to their personal Twitter audience. The service launched in the last days of February (27th) and less than one month later over 120K “Meerkatters” including an NFL Football (US style) team, and American Idol, where sharing experiences “as they happen…” according to founder Ben Rubin.

It didn’t take Twitter too long to catch-on to the boom in activity from Meerkat and the company launched Periscope, a live streaming app it had acquired in January 2015, while simultaneously “blocking” (according to some reports) the auto-tweet feature from Meerkat, albeit for a few hours on March 2nd. To some, Periscope is a better app, but it lacks the first-to-market power, that includes the all important “cool adjectives” that come with the groundbreaking turf. Other services like LiveStream and Ustream both pre-date the two Twitter based social network streaming apps and used most notably in the recent Ferguson, MO and Occupy Wall Street “media events”.

But somehow it may have taken a more simple, so-called “zero friction” approach to live video streaming for its break-out into – well the mainstream. This includes no dorky wearable device, no added log-in app and a single-click link in a familiar (and simple feed) all in the protected “walled garden of Twitter.

Finally we see this move into live video streaming as just one more cultural shift (evolution) as our connected devices continue to improve and provide the options to empower these types of services. Look to see more integration of environmental and even bio data into the video feeds as the proliferation of sensors continues on these smart devices, that are now opening up the eyes and ears of the world to all who care to see and hear. – Steve Sechrist