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Streaming media technology enables the real time or on demand distribution of audio, video and multimedia on the Internet. Streaming media is the simultaneous transfer of digital media (video, voice and data) so that it is received as a continuous real-time stream. Streamed data is transmitted by a server application and received and displayed in real-time by client applications. These applications can start displaying video or playing back audio as soon as enough data has been received and stored in the receiving station’s buffer.
There have been a number of Internet video streaming technologies introduced in the past several years, none of which compare to today's 'broadcast quality' standards. However the technology is improving and video on the Internet is an area of intense research and interest at this present time. UHD is looking forward to heralding these improvements in audio and video streaming and their use in education and faculty support.
Streaming video on the Internet generally comes in two varieties, those that are downloadable and available 'on demand' and those that follow a more traditional live television broadcasting or 'streaming' approach to distribution. In truth, the most recent advances in Internet video technologies generally adhere to a mixture of both approaches listed above, but it is still helpful, at this time, to understand the differences and applications of each type. First, 'Video On Demand' technologies offer the ability to view archived material at any time, similar to any other type of data that is acquired on the Internet. Generally these offer the best image quality as the files do not have to be created in real time. High quality video files relative to today's available Internet bandwidth, download times may be much longer than actual program times of the individual files being downloaded.
By contrast, 'real-time' streaming (also referred to as Webcasting or Netcasting) creates a video stream of a live video event or archived material in real time. These files download to the desktop while they play. Although webcast events can be archived for later viewing, the Live stream is, a real time event that must be viewed while it is being broadcast. Also, to account for bandwidth limitations, Live streaming files must be much smaller than those of their On-Demand counterparts.
There are a number of different video streaming technologies currently available and each offer their own strengths and weaknesses. RealMedia is a widespread well-established, cross-platform streaming system, which provides a reliable player with good service and at no cost to the end user. That is why UHD has decided on RealNetworks as our standard for delivering and playing streaming media.
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Last updated or reviewed on 9/6/12