Interesting Patents:
Twitter’s Method for Livestream
LIVE VIDEO STREAMING SERVICES USING ONE OR MORE EXTERNAL DEVICES
U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2021/0105510
Assignee: Twitter

Bigtech platform Twitter continues to throttle forward in its efforts to monetize the platform in new, exciting ways. The company, which previously disclosed its goal of doubling annual revenue by 2023, is now rumored to be in talks with Clubhouse for a $4 billion deal. But that doesn’t seem to be the only trick up its sleeve.

The brand touts its Twitter Live Brand Studio service, with claims that the service has streamed “over 150 brand-led live events” through the platform. The service’s landing page states, “you don’t need to have everyone under one roof to host an impactful event.”

A recent patent filing from the company, titled “Live Video Streaming Services Using One or More External Devices,” illustrates a new method to create an engaging, multi-dimensional live streaming experience.

About the Patent Application

Twitter’s new patent application discloses a method of broadcasting a live stream of media content using a networked external device (i.e., “wearable object, drone, another smartphone, camera-equipped vehicle, etc.”). This service leverages the networked external devices, enabling the device to be used as a video source for the broadcast media stream. The broadcaster is then capable of viewing all available media streams and selecting which ones to present for an audience.

By creating a system that can use decentralized video inputs from devices connected to the network, this method can allow for media coverage of an event that was previously inaccessible. The crowdsourced video feeds can then be interacted with by the audience to determine the popularity of the displayed streams. User interaction with the displayed video streams crates a popularity rating for the content and allows the broadcaster to update its broadcast with only the most popular content. Interactive content is a big aspect of the way this system works, as it provides crucial real-time feedback to the broadcasters about the audience.

The use of an external video source allows for a simple network connection between the broadcaster and the external media device. The larger broadcasting network can then bootstrap the media stream from the broadcaster to a much larger audience, minimizing the network and computing requirements of the external device.

why This Patent Application is Interesting

An example of a skiing event is used within Twitter’s patent application to describe the techniques and method. The patent states:

[0024] For example, in some examples, the mobile device’s camera may be relatively difficult to use to capture the broadcaster’s event. For example, a downhill skier may wish to share a live broadcast of his/her descent down a hill, but operating the mobile device’s camera may be relatively difficult to capture this event, since the skier would have to hold the mobile device in a particular manner while skiing down the hill. As such, in some examples, the interactive video broadcasting service may operate in conjunction with one or more external cameras in order to capture the events of the live broadcast stream. For example, while the interactive streaming application is executing on the broadcaster’s mobile device, one or more other video sources may be used to capture the event. In the example of the downhill skier, an action camera may be coupled to the skier’s helmet, and the action camera may capture the skier’s descent instead of using the camera on his/her mobile device. However, the interactive video broadcasting service may operate in conjunction with any type of camera-equipped device such as drones, other smartphones (e.g., the broadcaster’s friends or colleagues), car cameras, home cameras, etc.

[0025] The video stream captured by the one or more external cameras may be communicated to the interactive streaming application executing on the mobile device via a wired or wireless connection or through a server. In some implementations, the wireless network connection is a short-range network connection (e.g., Bluetooth connection or near-field communication (NFC) network connection) or a mobile network connection (e.g., Wi-Fi, 4G, or satellite). In some implementations, the interactive streaming application may select the appropriate network connection for the range and/or video quality of the broadcast. Also, in some implementations, audio data associated with the live stream broadcast may be switched to whichever device is currently broadcasting or can remain with the device having the best audio, which may be different from the device with the best video. In one specific example, the skier may be using a helmet-mounted camera and a drone that follows him/her down the slope, and the interactive video broadcasting service may have audio captured from the helmet-mounted camera (i.e., the helmet-mounted camera also has a microphone) because it can capture his/her narration (and the swoosh of the skis against the snow) while the video can be captured from the done since the drone may provide better panoramic images.

[0026] Therefore, the interactive video broadcasting service may enable multiple sources for capturing audio and/or video data of a broadcast of an event, where one or more of the multiple video sources is remote from the interactive streaming application executing on the mobile device such that the same event can be broadcasted from difficult view points or angles. For instance, while the broadcaster is broadcasting a certain event, the source of the video and/or audio of the broadcast stream can be switched to a different source (e.g., switching from the mobile device to the external device, switching from the external device to the mobile device, or switching from the external device to another external device). In some implementations, the user may operate the interactive streaming application to select between the multiple sources while the event is occurring–which can provide multiple view points or angles to the captured event. In some implementations, the switching may be based on the numbers of approval signals (e.g., number of “hearts”, “likes”, etc.) received from other viewers. These and other features are further explained with reference to the figures.

This method is a new take on a distributed live stream. Facebook has attempted to incorporate user live streams into its products, but not to this extent. By giving broadcasters control over what media streams they display, it will be interesting to see what new types of content will come with it. There have been journalists that already use this type of live stream to report on events, it is only a matter of time before more disciplines adopt this new form of broadcasting.

Written by John DeStefano, Technical Advisor
April 6, 2021

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