-- This blog is the first of a 2 part series on the emergence of Interactive Streaming --
Since its earliest times, video has been a one-way exchange. The viewer does whatever she does to initiate the video stream, the stream plays and the viewer either watches to completion or bails. The video plays, you watch. This was true in 1945. It was true in 1990. It was true in 2005.
However, there are forces that are changing the way we consume video. We are seeing the emergence of Interactive Video.
What is Interactive Video?
Put simply, Interactive video is Online Video Delivery (VOD or LIVE) with Interactive Layers, so users don’t just watch the video but interact with the story.
This interaction could be anything from:
- Answering questions/quizzes posed by the video
- Changing a camera’s views in a sporting or eSports event
- Simple polls during a live broadcast
- Interacting with characters in the video (and changing the storyline!)
All of these are examples of simple interactions with a video story. There are many more.
And a story can be for the sake of Amusement, for Educating or for Communicating. So the type of interactions that might happen in an eSports video (for example) vs. a training video might be quite different.
What are the drivers that are making these features available now as opposed to 5 years ago? They are broken into 2 categories: Demand side and Supply side. Let’s look at each.
Why Interactive Video now?
On the Demand side, it is no exaggeration to call the last 20 years the video game generation. This epoch has been defined by people that have grown up with video games and online interactivity. For them, video on the Internet is a default and it is currently the least interactive aspect of the online experience. This is why YouTube videos are mostly short form. This generation has no desire to watch an hour long video with no interaction. This is why companies like Genvid have raised $6 million to create an eSports Interactive Platform.
The trends in online education are also leading toward these same demand side issues. As more courses (enterprise as well as college and k-12 education) go online these same students that prefer interactivity in entertainment, are demanding it in their training platforms. Professional educators have also noted that lectures are less effective when they lack interactivity for the following reasons:
Lectures are ephemeral:
- Lectures are rarely recorded and are therefore, by their nature, short-lived. That is to say if a student misses something or fails to record an important point during a lecture they will often be unable to acquire that information later. In addition to this, the pace of the lecture is often governed by the lecturer and this necessarily means that some students will get left behind, yet simultaneously others will become disengaged because the pace is too slow.
Limitations of human concentration:
- It is often cited that student attention begins to decline after 10-15 minutes of a lecture. This suggests that in a typical 1-hour lecture students will not be able to invest their full attention on three-quarters of the content; more if you consider that the first part of a lecture is often introductory in nature.
No feedback for students or lecturers:
- Typical lectures cannot provide an opportunity for every student to verify their understanding of the concepts introduced. Equally, it is very difficult for lecturers to gauge whether students have understood the various concepts discussed. This deprives the lecturer from changing pace or adding further information to support students’ individual learning. 
 – INVESTIGATING ENGAGEMENT WITH IN-VIDEO QUIZ QUESTIONS IN A PROGRAMING COURSE
So both the professional educators and those being educated are demanding a better way to engage with the content! As was documented by CB-Insights , the main source of innovation is typically the Customer (educators) or the Employees (learners), and their analysis falls directly in line with the above observations. The people are demanding more.
 CB-INSIGHTS – STATE OF INNOVATION REPORT: SURVEY OF 677 CORPORATE STRATEGY EXECUTIVES
But what are the supply side drivers that are making this possible now vs 5 years ago?
First the growth and now dominance of the OTT market has established video over the web as a basic internet feature. It just works and there is not a lot to be solved on that front. Netflix, YouTube and enterprise companies like Jolokia have proven that streaming video over the Internet can just be made to work and work well. Innovations such as:
- Multi-CDN configurations to eliminate buffering and outages
- Redundancy from stream initiation to delivery
- Adaptive bit-rate technology
- Behind the firewall delivery technologies to help delivery to corporations with limited bandwidth
These and many other elements of the internet itself, have made video delivery better online. This has resulted in a new wave of innovation that has been delivering interactive features alongside these video. This is because, unlike the traditional broadcast (cable or over air), the Internet was designed as an interactive platform. The Internet’s fundamental architecture is interactive. With video becoming a first class participant on the Internet, it is no surprise that it is evolving to become interactive.
As you have seen, there are both demand side and supply side changes that are driving the emergence of Interactive Streaming. Jolokia is on the forefront of this emerging area of online Video. To discover more about Jolokia and its enterprise streaming platform Inferno, drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org, or check us out at https://www.jolokia.com, or feel free to go about it the old fashion way and give us a call: +1 (408) 689-0290 .