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live, mobile, video broadcast to the web

March 30, 2007

An interesting project has come online over at www.justin.tv: Justin Kan is wearing a camera attached to a hat and carrying some gear in a backpack that allows him to broadcast video onto the web. The camera is always live, streaming over EVDO to the Justin.tv servers and out to the world in near real-time. Eventually the guys at Justin.tv plan to enable others to set up their own lifecasting platform, but for now they’re scaling the site to cope with the rapid growth since launch.

Really interesting for me so far has been watching a Y Combinator dinner and Dexter walking, live. But what Justin is doing at any given moment isn’t so captivating as the new dynamic that springs from the intersection of the web and live video. The best example of this is as Justin is doing whatever he’s doing and he’s text messaged. (His phone number was on the site for the first few days.) You see Justin look at his phone, laugh, make a comment, or even bring it up in a conversation he’s having. He might respond to you by just talking or messaging you back. There’s something new about that. Sure, the same sort of thing can happen in a video conference (I’m sure it has), but this is mobile. It’s approximately the opposite of a business meeting where everyone is making face; it’s interactive.

Ah, yes, but what of privacy? There were pizzas ordered and 911 calls made. Because the web sees where Justin is at all times it’s easier to pull these sorts of things. Maybe an access list could be implemented so that only viewers granted permission could watch. Maybe a video and audio on/off switch could be implemented for those not interested in being live all the time. There’s a “suggestions” topic in their forum for these sorts of things.

The concept is neat. Developing the hardware and a lifecast hosting service where users can set up a live stream and archives could be a big hit. While not everyone is interested in broadcasting every moment from their perspective, it could be useful to not have to worry with a satellite truck. Citizen journalism, anyone?

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