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Sunday, November 04, 2012

The Story of Qik Mobile Video and My Part in It

Great interview in TechCrunch about Qik. I was an early adopter and investor.

Focus on the Toys - Nokia N95
Image: Steve Garfield with Nokia Smartphone and Qik

Qik Founder’s Story: Taking Mobile Video Out Of The Garage And Putting It Into The Hands Of Skype

I love this section about technology where Ramu talks about the problem Qik solved of video being lost. They called their solution, the Steve Garfield Fix. ;-0

Bernard: What was unique about Qik’s technology?

Ramu: We built a smart streaming cloud that understood the different types of cell phone videos and the frames that were missed from going to the cloud. It intelligently transcoded the video and made sure the consumer doesn’t see the choppiness or the missing frames. This was our own proprietary technology. We built all the servers and phones, maintained one or two TCP/IP connections to the cloud, and managed everything on them unlike Skype’s peer-to-peer infrastructure. This was a required architectural decision as we went further along, because PCs have more capacity than mobile devices and don’t work off a battery. This is an important tradeoff when you’re building a product for mobile consumers.

The cloud infrastructure we built takes any kind of video from any mobile device and puts it out on any device and/or on the Internet in real-time.

We had built technology in four different areas. How do we do this video in real time without giving up on quality? The first area was real-time video quality. The big tradeoff here was you stream a little less just to fit through the pipe, but if you stream more, it jams the pipe. How do we do this without compromising quality? That’s where we had six patents. Then we had technology, which worked across disparate smartphones. When we started with Nokia it forced us to think of all variances between phones. So we built our client-side technology that could go with all phones and leverage the best quality video and consume the least amount of battery.

We also built our IP with the idea that video should never be lost. When you take a video, your cell connection could drop, your phone battery runs out, and so on. This is where we said: “We have to build technology where our video is never lost.” Our initial users were all journalists and they were really upset if their video was lost. We maintained a journal on the device and the cloud, did periodic checkpoints and a phased commit to ensure the video is archived in its entirety.
Here's a story from my reporting in New Hampshire with Qik in 2008 during the presidential election: Steve Garfield Scoops CNN: Duncan Hunter Does Not Quit
As I was walking down the sidewalk in Manchester, NH I asked what was goign on. The response I got was that Duncan Hunter was going on CNN to make a major announcement. I asked if I could interview him live about it. An aide told me to walk back down the sidewalk and talk to another staff member. I replied, "No. I can interview him RIGHT NOW with this cell phone!" So the aide said, go right ahead. then I ran up to him and started streaming live video from the cellphone.
Best. Moment. Ever.

Learn more about online video in my book, Get Seen:

Here's a nice video report on my use of Qik for reporting by The Uptake:

Here are all the stories from my blog mentioning Qik.

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