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Tuluntulu’s ARTIST ‘world first technology’ for Africa

May 3, 2013 • Mobile and Telecoms, Top Stories

A new technology that facilitates streaming video at 24kbps, called ARTIST and developed by a South African consortium, has been launched to the African market.

A South African consortium has developed and introduced a world-first technology for the African market, facilitating video streaming to mobile devices. (Image source: a man engaging mobile via Shutterstock.com)

Over the past few years a consortium funded by TIA (Technology Innovation Agency) consisting of CSIR South Africa, UCT (University of Cape Town) and ECA (East Coast Access) developed specialized technology known as ARTIST that allows streaming video to be viewed on mobile devices, in low bandwidth or congested environments.

The consortium approached Pierre van der Hoven, a media expert, to commercialize the technology and a new company called Tuluntulu (meaning “stream” in Zulu) was recently launched.

“The world is focused on retina displays, 4G and LTE. All the big companies in the world – and broadcasters for that matter – are obsessed with quality on mobile devices. The reality is that in Johannesburg fifty percent of where you go is on EDGE. The bottom line is that video requires 3G and even offerings like Youtube in Africa has experienced modest uptake compared to the rest of the world. The bottom line is that most of us are connecting via edge at least half the time and if you live outside the metro areas you are connecting all the time,” van der Hoven explains.

Research indicates that globally online video usage has exploded. But this is not the case in Africa, as it simply does not work. From a technology perspective, this is because current competing technologies do not perform well in low rate Internet infrastructures between 30kbps – 300kbps and, more particularly, where the throughput rate is rapidly varying within this range from one second to the next (as is common in all mobile cellular networks).

To address the issue of being able to facilitate video streaming to mobile in Africa, a consortium was established to the tune of approximately R14,5 million and a team of people have spent three years developing the technology.

The ARTIST technology is said to provide a solution to this problem. It utilizes patented technology to deliver unbroken standards-based live video streams with fully integrated social media interactivity. The solution covers the entire media value chain from video content ingestion to a fully adaptive and scalable service and mobile device applications.

“The consortium has registered patents and they are the only people that can stream at below 100kbps … they wanted someone to help commercialise the offering and approached me. I looked at it and asked ‘how good is it?’, they told me it was unique. I conducted extensive research and the answer that I have is that this is world-first technology,” adds van der Hoven.

Users can use existing devices – Android smart phones and / or tablets – and existing cell phone networks. The technology works on 3G and EDGE (low bandwidth), which is the dominant system used in rural areas in South Africa, Africa and other developing countries.

According to van der Hoven the offering can be used extensively in commerce, but also specific application in health and education, particularly for rural areas.

The intention is to launch into South Africa, into Africa and then target the Asia market before making the offering global.

* Image via Shutterstock

Chris Tredger, Online Editor

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