Swarmcast is a company whose technology can change the way online video is transmitted over the web, making it faster, cheaper, more reliable, and of higher quality than it is today.
This morning, it launches Swarmcast Live, a platform that enables streaming video from live events like sports games and concerts in quality as good as HD — a very impressive task.
Swarmcast also recently released a download accelerator, called Autobahn, for iTunes and MySpace Video. We tried the former on an episode of Lost and the download took less than five minutes. It’s taken up to 30 in the past using iTunes’ regular service.
The Minneapolis-based company has developed a process called multi-source streaming to send a video across multiple servers and networks at the same time. Because it uses a distributed system to deliver content, it is often compared to BitTorrent, but Swarmcast is different. BitTorrent uses a peer-to-peer network, while Swarmcast works on the server side.
In most cases, when you watch a video online, it comes to your computer from a single server, despite the fact that there are copies of it in multiple places. This is why the video can take a long time to load, get stuck during transmission, and look choppy. It is also the reason that mass-distribution of online video often requires substantial bandwidth and comes at a high cost.
This is not true for p2p networks like Veoh and Joost, which is why they offer better quality images.
Swarmcast uses multi-source streaming to pull information from several servers and distribute it across multiple networks, so its technology is not affected by setbacks or failures in an individual part of the pipeline. It also streams information more efficiently, making it faster and requiring significantly less bandwidth. Swarmcast’s CEO, Justin Chapweske says that large scale video distributors using his company’s technology might spend as little as 30 percent of their current infrastructure and bandwidth costs.
Swarmcast has its eyes set on the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where it hopes to power live online broadcasts of the event.
The company was self-sustaining and profitable in its first six years, but over the last year has raised $10 million from Japanese VC firms Nippon Capital and Bridge Capital Fund. It chose Japanese firms to get access to the country’s consumer electronics companies, intending to integrate with their TVs down the road.