Audience watches table tennis tourney on the web

April 4, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
This weekend, a small audience around the world watched a table tennis tournament held in Milpitas. It wasn't on ESPN, but on something even better, according to some of the players.

"This is better for us than ESPN right now," says Rajul Sheth. "We have our own ICC broadcasting channel. The first time, we had about 35-40 households watching it live. And the second time, that number ran over a hundred. We have an average of over a hundred people watching it -- in different day parts."

Households and days parts -- the language of broadcasting. Rajul's ICC Table Tennis Center in Milpitas began high definition coverage of tournaments just months ago.

The setup is simple: a laptop computer on a WiFi network using a USB converter like an EZ Grabber to connect to the camera. This camera is HD, but it doesn't need to be. Which begs the question: Why not do this with a webcam and something like Skype?

The quality is too low on Skype or iChat. To push a high definition broadcast to hundreds -- even thousands -- of people, requires provisioning of expensive servers. To get around that, the center uses a network system by Dyyno of Palo Alto that adapts peer-to-peer technology. While you watch something on your downlink, you simultaneously pass it on to the next viewer on your uplink.

CEO Raj Jaswa says, "The idle uplink is typically a free resource. Video is something that people would love to do, but it's not something that's very easy to do, like text. So, we are trying to bundle all the key pieces."

Beyond your school's basketball games, or your club's rugby match, Dyyno sees applications for business, too, such as trade shows. But at least table tennis parents without an IT department can get their kids "high ratings" in high def.

"If this spreads," concludes Seth, "I think this can be more popular than all the TV channels."

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