Processing large streams of fast moving data was once the sole purview of powerhouse users like Wallstreet and the CIA. The solutions required to perform calculations on massive volumes of data in flight required tremendous investments in on-site infrastructure and custom software that put applications requiring these kinds of capabilities far beyond the reach of the average developer or small development team.
Today, thanks to massive cumulative improvements and innovations in the world of elastic and distributed computing, companies that provide massive real-time data stream processing in a self-service model are beginning to emerge. These companies will make it easy and affordable for single developers and small studios to make powerful, massively scalable apps, games and software that allows hundreds of thousands of concurrent users to interact and communicate with one another.
The most exciting potential applications for this powerful new technology are within the realm of ‘Social TV’. Social Tv refers to a blending or harmonizing of the elements we traditionally understand to be unique to Television broadcasts and unique to social media. In other words, Social TV as a developing trend seeks to make watching television more interactive and social than we’ve ever thought possible before.
This is not as simple as hanging out on Twitter with your friends while watching a sitcom and tweeting back and forth about your favorite moments or which star is more attractive. The true potential in Social TV revolves around entirely new unprecedented experiences that allow the viewer to register their desires, their predictions, their dislikes and their expectations, all in real-time, to dynamically drive the content of the show they are watching.
For example, in the world of sports, viewers might be watching the Superbowl with their smartphone in hand (which an estimated 86% of viewers now do regularly) and start predicting which audible their quarterback is about to call by using an app that has been created for Superbowl viewers.
In the world of debates and political pundits, viewers could register their agreement and disagreement in real-time in order to drive the discussions they are watching on screen, or guide the flow of conversation from topic to topic by voting instantly on their phone.
The technical challenges that have to be surmounted in order to create a reliable Social TV app framework are considerable. Since the Superbowl’s record viewership was just over 111,000,000 people, even if only a fraction of such a large audience began using a paired app at the same time, the system may well be responsible for taking in, processing, and pushing back out millions of people’s simultaneous input.