A rare opportunity to gain first-hand insights into how companies in multiple fields are capitalizing on the ability to deliver highly scalable real-time interactive video experiences is coming February 9–10 with the streaming industry’s first XDN Summit.
The event — sponsored by DigitalOcean, Linode, Verizon Media and Xilinx — highlights the dawn of a new era when ever more entities of every description are moving beyond the limitations of traditional CDNs to exploit experience delivery network (XDN) technology. Executives from the sponsoring companies as well as Microsoft, AWS and many other cutting-edge firms will describe how they’re making use of a cross-cloud platform that can deliver video and ancillary content in real time from any number of sources in any direction over any distance for simultaneous viewing by any number of recipients.
These use cases were never possible before the emergence of XDN technology. But the XDN Summit is more than a showcase for new use cases. Executive sessions over the two-day event are also meant to provide attendees a holistic view of what’s in store across the online ecosystem as real-time video experiences become the new norm in video-centric activity.
Current Manifestations of What the Future Holds
Attendees will see how a two-way XDN infrastructure that cuts end-to-end video streaming latency to 200 to 400 milliseconds at regional or global scales will enable a host of disruptive services and applications, such as:
- Interactive social engagements with video in real time – Video interactions in social media, game playing and event watch parties are moving beyond text responses and one-way video to two-way engagements involving any number of people in synchronized real-time video exchanges.
- Audience participation in live events – Enterprise-scale virtual event technology is bringing video-rich interactivity to live events on an unprecedented scale of audience engagement by enabling real-time exchanges between any number of concurrently connected users and event personalities.
- Personalization of viewing experiences – Browser-based access to cloud-hosted broadcast-caliber production mechanisms enables on-the-fly personalization of first- and second-screen feature enhancements that can be streamed in precise synchronicity with each live-streamed video session, thereby avoiding the technical complexity and spotty availability of CDN-based approaches to personalization.
- Synchronization of dispersed operations in live-event productions – It’s now possible to cut live-event production costs by combining centralized processes with remote operations that can involve on-field capture, creation of ancillary graphics and input from distant commentators, all brought together in real time to produce a complete live-streamed production.
- Live-streamed commerce – Online commercial activities, including product marketing, real-time live auctions and support for “microbetting” in live-streamed sports are helping to drive adoption of XDN technology. In the case of live video shopping featuring on-screen presenters, synchronized real-time viewing experiences eliminate the disparate multisecond latencies common to conventional streaming while enabling interactions with the presenters by audience members via video rather than chat alone.
- Network delivery of virtual reality experiences – Network support for virtual reality (VR) technology becomes possible with real-time streaming that enables instantaneous refreshments of the VR headset wearer’s on-screen field of view (FOV) with every turn of the head or even shift in gaze when eye-tracking sensors are involved.
- Video surveillance in real time – As video monitoring becomes ever more consequential in everything from public safety to industrial operations, home security and health care, the need for real-time visibility into all fields of view has become a top priority. For example, the ability to react to what’s happening as conveyed instantly with high-definition clarity is vital to first responders in law enforcement, fire outbreaks and other emergencies. Additional benefits accrue from real-time synching of drone-delivered video with video streamed from other sources.
- Real-time video engagement in business, health and education – XDN connectivity is becoming mission-critical to enabling real-time collaborative participation by any number of people in engineering design, architecture, training, medicine, remote learning and other pursuits with no diminution in video quality. Immersive collaboration and training in VR environments is becoming part of this trend as well.
- 5G – Across all these usage categories, the emergence of 5G marks a major acceleration behind the need for an XDN infrastructure. As reflected by all that’s gone into creating 5G specifications and planning service strategies, support for these real-time video use cases is what mobile network operators (MNOs) are counting on to drive market penetration.
In tandem with the XDN Summit, Red5 Pro has produced a white paper titled “The World Needs an Interactive Streaming Infrastructure.” which provides an in-depth look at the XDN platform developed by Red5 Pro and spotlights some of the companies that are putting XDNs to commercial use.
Witnesses to the XDN Revolution
As XDN Summit speakers who are profiled in the white paper note, so far, the Red5 Pro platform is one of a kind. “From what we’ve seen, Red5 Pro is the most robust, scalable enterprise, and they’ve been great to work with.” says Andrew Heimbold, who, along with serving as president of integrator Reality Check Solutions (RCS), helps lead the affiliated graphics tech platform supplier Singular.Live.
Singular.Live’s cloud production platform enables browser-based control over creation of rich graphics overlays in real time. When Singular.Live is integrated with a live-video production suite, “you can generate graphics in real time and distribute them anywhere,” Heimbold says. “You can render them in a broadcast feed or on a million devices.”
Another speaker whose company is profiled in the XDN white paper is Marc Todd, CEO and founder of Skreens, which specializes in live content curation with cloud technology that enables browser-based access to broadcast-caliber production mechanisms supporting just about any video-rich application. “Our service covers how you shape the video, enable people to comment on it as well as produce the whole show,” Todd says. “A customer can be broadcasting to millions, and anyone in that audience can send a video up to us for distribution to everyone else. There are many use cases where you need live interactivity with high-quality video. Any time that’s the case, you need the XDN.”
Scott Clay, founder and CEO of Addison Interactive, is another XDN Summit speaker offering perspective on still another set of use cases, which involve real-time video socialization of engagement in live events. Addison’s Eventuall™ Virtual Event Platform is powering scenarios like the media center for a recent nationally televised awards show, 2021 press events for the CW Network and a wide range of consumer-facing events involving video interactions between participants on stage or the playing field with people in the seats or in online viewing audiences.
Capabilities include support for viewers’ seamless selection of viewing angles across multiple vantage points, Clay notes. “It’s like you can swivel the camera around yourself,” he says. “I can choose which seat I want to be in, see who else is in the audience, or look down on everything from above. We’re opening up entirely new virtual experiences that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.” In fact the XDN Summit itself will be hosted on Eventuall so you can experience it yourself as an attendee.
Defining the Way Forward
One of the major messages to be delivered at the XDN Summit is the need for widespread adoption of XDN technology on the part of streaming platform suppliers like CDN operator Limelight, which has implemented the Red5 Pro platform in its facilities to support its Limelight RTS (Realtime Streaming) service As everyone attending the summit will see, the time has come for those who say it’s impossible to scale real-time interactive streaming to embrace this new reality.
But for now, Red5 Pro is alone in meeting all the XDN requirements. It has done this by developing a software stack that includes support for:
- Massively scalable real-time streaming enabled by automated orchestration of a hierarchy of core, relay and edge nodes implemented on virtualized cloud facilities.
- Seamless cross-cloud operations supported by Red5 Pro’s integrations with multiple infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platforms.
- Real-time interactivity with ingestion of video from any number of video-generating devices for distribution to any number of viewing devices.
- Streaming of data enhancements in synchronization with core content on a per-user basis.
- APIs that enable the development of application-specific functionalities such as dynamic ad insertion, forensic watermarking, new encoding mechanisms and much else for integration into the XDN infrastructure.
- Fail-safe performance with load balancing and full redundancy across all nodes.
- Multiprotocol flexibility utilizing WebRTC or RTSP transport with preservation of ingested protocols like RTMP, SRT, MPEG-2 and HLS.
- Multiprofile streaming mapped to ABR ladders utilizing intelligent edge node interactions with client devices to deliver content in profiles appropriate to each user.
- Automated implementation of Secure Real-time Transport Protocol (SRTP) as a rigorous alternative to traditional DRM.
At the same time, XDN technology offers more than just a technical approach to networking by providing a DevOps environment where partners can work with Red5 Pro to create customized iterations of an XDN suited to their specific needs. And it is an integration-friendly environment for third-party suppliers of elements that can contribute to users’ operations.