If you wanted to share what you are doing right now with the world, which app would you use? While nearly everyone with a smartphone shares photos and videos about events that have already happened, hardly anyone out there is sharing live content. Shoot, Edit, Upload is the usual flow of sharing on social networks…but what if the only step was Shoot?
Charleston video technology startup InfiniteTakes has created an app that allows users to do that very thing. It focuses on empowering anyone to share and watch life’s moments as they happen in real time with their live video streaming app and web-based geocentric social network, Stre.am. And big organizations are catching on, such as the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, who partnered with Stre.am just weeks after the company released its BETA earlier this year. Usage is surging too—Stre.am just hit a benchmark with over 15,000 live streams created by users, most of which happened in the last 30 days. These numbers are sure to rise since InfiniteTakes recently released the Android version of Stre.am.
“The future of social media is live streaming, a market that has yet to be cornered by any one app,” says Justin VanBogart, Co-founder and President at InfiniteTakes, who founded the company with video technology guru Ian Fay. “There isn’t one de facto app. People still don’t share their lives through video. It’s still kind of this pro tool. Unlike photos, you can’t follow the rule of thirds and come up with an Instagram filter. You can’t do that with video. Online video is really good or really terrible. No one has tackled live yet.”
HOW STRE.AM WORKS
Stre.am makes it incredibly easy for you to start live streaming and share your video feed with the world once you install the free app on your iPhone or Android device. Open the app and you’re presented with its simple capture interface and a green button in the center to activate your stream. Stre.am provides you with your own permanent unique web address for anyone to view your stre.am from any device on any web browser at: http://stre.am/username.
Stre.am is a non-permanent platform that never saves your videos to its servers. Instead, Stre.am’s Save to Camera Roll feature allows you to save the captured video footage to your smartphone’s personal camera roll while streaming. VanBogart says, “The mantra of our company is for people to share their world in a pain free environment and when it’s done, it’s done. People want to own their experiences digitally. We give it to them on their camera. We don’t save it on any server. That’s really what’s important.”
Stre.am allows you to control privacy with its Geolocation option. You can choose whether to keep your stre.am private or display your stre.am on the “Nearby” map on Stre.am’s social network so other users can find it based on your location.
There are several other options on the app to enhance your experience. Tapping on the Snapshot icon lets you take photos while streaming. Selfie flips the camera into selfie mode and makes you the star of your stream. Torch activates your smartphone’s flash to brighten your stream. Share allows you to easily share your stream’s address with a message through social sites, text, or email.
Once your start streaming, the capture interface shows the number of viewers watching and how many Likes it has received from them.
Users can also subscribe to other streamers and get notified through email push notifications when those people start streaming.
Stre.am’s lightweight app, easy-to-use interface, video stream quality, and sharing features make it the perfect app to broadcast any live event such as breaking news, concerts, sporting events, family get-togethers, and weddings.
Brands will also find Stre.am useful for reaching and engaging their customers by broadcasting live announcements, interviews, product demonstrations, and space tours. The possibilities are limitless for anything you want to share live.
THE STRE.AM STORY
Stre.am has come a long way since its initial proof of concept last December 24. “It was a totally ugly wireframe that worked perfectly as a proof of concept. It was the best Christmas present ever,” recalls VanBogart. InfiniteTakes worked with one of America’s fastest growing software companies, Charleston-based SPARC, in leveraging their video technology to develop a live concept and overcome the challenges of developing a live streaming mobile app like Stre.am, the first of its kind.
“We really had to figure out why no one has built anything like this before. It’s ridiculously expensive to do. Not only is it expensive but really the infrastructure to build it out hasn’t been there. LTE and hardware haven’t been there until now. Now that the iPhone 5 and above are really the de facto mobile phone, it’s easy to play in these aggressive spaces because everything you need from a phone level is up to snuff.”
SPARC helped InfiniteTakes develop the entire product from the ground up without licensing any third party software. “That’s the biggest story about Stre.am I’m so proud of. Even the biggest players in the space license most of their technology. Because we have the entire technology stack we can play with the biggest of the big.”
This past April, InfiniteTakes debuted Stre.am in dramatic fashion at the Dig South interactive festival’s Steampunk Startup Shindig and Concert in Charleston. Attendees were given exclusive access to install the Stre.am ALPHA and share their own live streams, which were projected on screens during the show.
Just three weeks later, the Stre.am BETA was released and InfiniteTakes announced its partnership with the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars as the first organization to deploy Stre.am’s enterprise offering. Using Stre.am, over 5,000 attendees of the Jaguars Draft Party at EverBank Field in Jacksonville broadcasted their own behind the scenes draft day footage to fans connecting from over 68 countries around the world. “Our mission has really been to allow anybody to be anywhere—Live. That was a great example of how this sort of technology can make that happen,” said VanBogart.
As part of Stre.am’s enterprise offering, the Jaguars organization was able to select the fan-generated video feeds and push them to screens placed throughout the crowd as well as to their own branded Stre.am website: http://Jaguars.Stre.am.
InfiniteTakes plans to monetize the Stre.am service through paid enterprise products for organizations like the Jaguars who want to license their platform in a branded and controlled environment.
VanBogart believes that user-generated live streaming is the future of media broadcasting and that the sports and entertainment industry will soon embrace it just as the Jaguars have. “It’s just like the music industry in the early 2000s—protecting the content, building up walls and moats, and not looking for anything digital. For the NFL to really embrace live streaming that’s user generated is huge. It shows that these big brands know that this is the future and they’re no longer petrified of it. They have a choice: Fight companies and treat them like Napster or join companies and treat them like iTunes. They can participate in it, optimize it, and generate revenue from this new media. It in no way conflicts with any sort of television coverage. The quality will never be the same, but the context is way more interesting.”
In comparison to older competitors who have occupied the live-streaming video web space for quite some time, such as Ustream and Livestream, VanBogart believes Stre.am has the advantage because it was built for today’s devices and technology: “The webcam business model has been around for too long and they’re dragging behind them a whole lot of legacy code and products that are super-heavy. We built an entire stack of code for now’s devices and bandwidth. We’re so much lighter and light speeds ahead of them in this realm and built for now to leverage SPARC’s amazing resources to move quickly.”
THE STRE.AM ROADMAP
For Stre.am’s next step, the InfiniteTakes team plans to continue optimizing the Stre.am experience. They will also focus on content creation and helping users find the streams they care about through geo-location, event creation and content categories. They’re also working on interactivity between stre.amers and those watching through a comments system. So imagine telling your friend at a concert who is streaming to pan left, zoom in, or stop shaking his phone while watching your favorite band.
Although Stre.am won’t have the same quality as a high-level television production, VanBogart emphasizes the context is Stre.am’s most important aspect. “It’s weird but there’s almost a value in destructing the quality. You’re more there than you’ve ever been able to be through really high video production. The context is important. Maybe your best friend who’s also a Jaguars fan was at the event and now you can be there with him. That content plus context equation is the bedrock of this technology and whether or not people find value in that will determine if this is successful or not.”