Streaming FAQ: What are Some of the Uses for Streaming Video?

Streaming FAQ: What are Some of the Uses for Streaming Video?

The cartoon "The Jetsons" provided young baby boomers a glimpse of what great things the future held. George Jetson didnt have to use a phone to make a call, he just looked at the wall and there was Jane, Judy, Elroy, or even Mr. Sprockets. We might not fly around in jet cars yet, but today we call the Jetson phone "videoconferencing." It costs only a couple of hundred dollars to equip a standard Web-capable multimedia computer into a "Jetson phone," and that's just one of the uses for streaming video.

Streamed Video can also be used for much more than just playing broadcast-television-like clips over the Internet. Since the invention of the camcorder, people have begun to find new uses for video; streaming technology now gives us a quick way to deliver videos to one another.

In Arizona, a district attorney saves taxpayer money by holding arraignments through a videoconference between the county jail and courthouse. By not needing to pay for transportation between the courthouse and the jail, or for the guards to watch the prisoners in the courthouse, the county is saving far more money than the cost of the equipment and the ISDN lines.

Computer re-sellers are also seeing a cost-cutting use for video-on-demand by having clips available that show customers exactly how to do simple upgrades like adding memory, a second hard drive, or an expansion card. Having a video clip working twenty-four hours a day is a lot less expensive than a support technician.

Educators are using video in news ways too. The Mars Pathfinder Mission is using the power of streaming to provide live video to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. From there, video from the Mars lander is showcased along with maps of the planet surface, Martian weather reports, and other educationally oriented material. While students are watching the video from another planet, they are secretly enticed into learning about astronomy, physics, and chemistry.

Of course, businesses can use videoconferencing to hold meetings where actually being in the same room would be time- or cost-prohibitive. You can also have videoconferencing for personal use. Maybe grandma would love to see whether the new baby looks just like uncle John; for less than the cost of a cross-country airline ticket, your computer and granny's can both be configured to allow videoconferencing.

Independent filmmakers are also using streaming. Seattles 911 Media Organization is a non-profit center for visual arts that helps film makers create movies, then provides a dual outlet of having screenings in their Seattle theater, and having a streaming server to allow the rest of the world to watch independent films.

Makers of videos are just beginning to explore the infant universe of video streaming. A few pioneers have started using the new technology in innovative ways, but the future holds promise for using these technologies in everyday life. The networked computer has the possibility to replace the telephone, television, radio, and movies with a synthesis of all of the communication media. That synthesis could be as important as the first meeting of communications and electrical technology. The introduction of the telegraph provided the first glimpse of instant communication over a great distance. Now, thanks to the Internet and video streaming, we can see and hear across even the huge expanses that separate planets.


Sun, 12/01/1996 - 12:00am