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Now Streaming Live, with Twilio
Does the popularity of social media apps like TikTok for video sharing, and Clubhouse, for drop-in audio chats, signal the next wave of customer and employee engagement?
API platform pioneer Twilio thinks so, signaled by today’s introduction of a cloud-based platform that gives businesses a way to embed live, interactive audio and video streams into their applications. The “live” descriptor is key, as evidenced in the name for this new platform: Twilio Live.
While Twilio already offers a wide range of APIs, with many aimed at facilitating customer engagement, the Live platform stands out as a way to provide customized interactive audio and video experiences at scale, with virtually no delay, Hakim Mehmood, GM of voice and video, at Twilio, told No Jitter. With the Live platform, he elaborated, Twilio can support audio and video interactive live streaming for hundreds of thousands of users with less than two seconds of latency across its infrastructure and a global ecosystem of Tier 1 carrier networks — via what the company calls its Super Network.
While Live is relevant for Twilio’s existing customers, including those using video and video APIs as well as the Flex contact center platform, it also opens new market opportunities, Mehmood said. Community site Reddit, for example, has built its recently introduced Reddit Talk feature on the Live platform, he said. In a blog post introducing Talk, Reddit wrote of its interest in live, interactive audio streaming as such:
“Currently, you can use text threads, images, videos, chats, and live streams to have conversations and hang out with people in your communities. While these are great mediums, there are other times where having a live audio talk may be more useful or, frankly, more fun.”
With Talk, a community’s moderator will be able to start a talk, be that for Q&As, ask me anythings, lectures, radio-style discussions, feedback sessions… or “simply to give community members a place to hang out,” Reddit wrote. Community members, in turn, can raise their hands if they’d like to speak or use emojis to show reactions to the talking points.
Though not speaking specifically to the Reddit Talk implementation, which took about three months to build, Mehmood pointed to the ability for developers to weave trust mechanisms into a live-streaming environment via a variety of security and safety hooks. After all, he noted, if you’re dealing with an audience of, say, 200,000, one or more individuals may act contrary to the spirit of a conversation. By building in a variety of security and safety hooks, developers can assure that the service providers can quickly squash that activity, moving offenders out of the engagement and possibly even banning them, he described.
While Reddit’s large-scale Talk feature represents one end of the spectrum for Live, a second beta customer, virtual event company Welcome, represents the other. Welcome is using the live-streaming platform to extend the reach of events with bespoke experiences, Mehmood said. “We’re not a product; we’re a platform, and you can decorate it the way you want it,” he added.
Besides these two beta customers, Twilio has discussed the potential for building interactive live-streaming offerings across a range of industries, including retail, education, gaming, and entertainment, Mehmood said. These companies are investigating the opportunity of live streaming for customer engagement, feedback, and employee engagement — and rest assured, regarding the latter, this is not just another conferencing solution, he added.
“We are not competing with Zoom or Cisco or Microsoft,” Mehmood said. “This is a brand-new paradigm in this whole evolving space.”
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