Everything you need to know about latency in virtual events, courtesy of video streaming company, Ceeblue.
More than 18 months into the Covid crisis, the sustainability of in-person industry events is still in question. From the very start, online events platforms were quick to step in and take up much of the slack, but in many cases, the experiences weren’t immersive or interactive enough to create meaningful connections or transmit messages effectively.
Many platforms support one-to-one video chats, one-to-many auditoriums, and even break-out rooms, all of which are essential to creating an environment amenable to networking and messaging, but what really made the successful platforms stand out from the rest was their focus on eliminating latency in their video communications.
What Is Latency?
Latency, also known as “lag”, is the delay between the transmission of an audiovisual signal and its display through a screen and speakers on the other end of a network.
The more latency we experience during online interaction, the more stilted and self-conscious our interchanges become.
Only a few hundred milliseconds of lag can produce catastrophic effects upon the effectiveness of online interaction.
It’s a near-certainty that every reader of this piece has experienced more than a handful of brutal video calls on unoptimized platforms or with someone having network issues.
The negative effects of lag are twofold:
1. The two interlocutors may talk over one another, making conversations very stilted and difficult to navigate.
2. Hearing one’s own voice come out of the other person’s speakers and then back again with double the lag takes a devastating psychological toll. The negative effect of hearing one’s own voice echoed at oneself is so profound that it has even been weaponized.
Concrete Benefits of Ultra-Low Latency Video
By incorporating sub-second ultra-low latency video solutions into an event platform, not only are you providing a forum that’s as close to in-person as possible, where there are as few barriers to effective communication as possible, but you are able to keep all of your attendees’ interactions within your event architecture.
To expand upon this last point, a very big problem for platforms with sub-par video conferencing is that contacts that are generated within the platform have to abandon it to meet up using other tools and platforms that provide a better experience, such as Zoom, Meet, Teams, etc. This is undesirable for any event platform that wants to keep its attendees “under one roof,” as it were, in a sticky, self-contained environment.
What to look for in an Ultra-Low Latency Provider
Ultra-low latency, or “ULL” for short, has become a trending topic, flippantly used to describe services with up to 4 or 5 seconds of latency.
There are also many companies that deliver sub-second video but do not transcode the video stream into different protocols or bitrates. The drawback of these services is that if you want to deliver your video to Android as well as Apple devices, to PC and to Mac, and to those with sub-optimal network connections, you’ll have to add a transcoding service whose latency will cancel out any gains obtained from the supposed “ULL” video streaming.
True ULL is generally considered in the industry to be sub-second, meaning that glass-to-glass, from the lens to the screen, no more than one second will pass.
There are very few services that provide an end-to-end ULL solution that includes both transcoding and intercontinental delivery in less than a second. By including the transcoding layer, you are assured that any audience can access the video stream, regardless of the device they use or the quality of their network.
This article was written by the Ceeblue Editorial Team. Ceeblue is at the vanguard of ULL streaming technologies and is a proud sponsor of VEI.
This content is sponsored by Ceeblue.