Paul Lell (Engineering Support Lead)
How the Streaming Industry Is Leveraging User Devices to Improve Viewing
Technology is amazing. I love watching it evolve to do work that is either new, or leaps and bounds beyond what was being done before. Fifteen years ago, a mobile phone could make phone calls (barely), and maybe send a text message or two, provided you didn’t mind paying a quarter of a dollar per. Now though, a mobile phone is a legitimate computer replacement for the vast majority of people.
It can not only make calls, but it can stream videos, watch live TV, play music, show me who is at my door when the bell rings, and accurately measure that weirdly shaped wall in the closet under the stairs in my house, amongst other things. This technology is evolving at break-neck speeds, doing new things every day and making old tasks easier to knock out, in less time than ever before.
It’s interesting then to look at some of the things that it isn’t doing. Despite millions (billions?) of dollars spent trying to eke out every ounce of performance between the server and that user device, there are still problems. Users are streaming videos and listening to music, yet the ‘last mile’ between them and the source is just too volatile to make it one-hundred percent reliable. The best CDN in the world, communicating with the best, most powerful device in the world, just isn’t a complete enough ecosystem to ensure a flawless viewing/listening experience…
Or is it?
Apple and Google are currently in the process of moving as much of their intelligence and human-language processing onto the user’s device as possible. This is partly being done for privacy reasons, but also to speed up response times and make sure their users aren’t waiting for things to happen any more than is absolutely necessary. In other words, they’re eliminating the last mile of the network. You see, before now, if you asked Siri to turn on the kitchen lights, that request would be sent off to Apple’s servers, processed and distilled down to the exact command you were trying to enact (at least, we hope it’s the command we really intended at that point), and then sent back to the device to act upon.
But now, with the advent of powerful enough devices, all of that can be done right there, in the palm of your hand. They’re eliminating that last mile due to the power of the device itself. Now, those commands can be acted upon almost instantly because there is no wire time, and no opportunity for questionable network conditions to interrupt the process. (With a side helping of privacy, since your request never leaves your device.)
So, our team got to thinking, how else could these crazy-powerful devices be leveraged to improve user experiences?
How about watching videos?
If you download the video to the device and watch it, you can get a flawless, uninterrupted experience, whether you’re online or not. But everyone knows that, right?
What about streaming though?
If you have the fastest, most efficient custom download engine in the world, and you know how video players work (and you have some of the brightest technical minds available to figure it all out) it turns out that you can leverage the power of these modern devices and that amazing download engine to smooth out last mile network issues. And by smooth out, I mean basically eliminate.
Imagine hitting play on a video in your favorite app while you’re on the train heading downtown. And that tunnel you go through five times a week— the one that has historically led to interruptions in your morning viewing— no longer causes your video to re-buffer. Or imagine sitting in bed binging your favorite show in HD without a single interruption, even though your kids are also streaming their own videos on the same wifi network. Imagine never seeing that little spinning wheel in the middle of your videos ever again.
Penthera’s patented technology enables providers at any scale to reduce or eliminate rebuffering events, lower startup times for streams to almost zero, and ensure that ads are delivered on time, without buffering, every time. All thanks to the exponential growth in device capabilities over the past ten years.
Just as tech giants are taking advantage of increasingly powerful devices, Penthera is actively leveraging user’s devices to make sure the content they want is always available, and always delivered at best possible quality. It isn’t peer-to-peer though. It’s totally private, totally invisible, completely tailored to the individual user’s behaviors.
Penthera is enabling ‘the personal edge’ right in viewers’ hands.