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16 December 2021

Nanocosmos finds success in unexpected customers, in turbulent two years

The nice thing about building a platform is that it can be used by customers you would have never thought were interested. Indra Hoffmann, Communications Lead at Nanocosmos, spoke with Faultline this week, as part of our virtual IBC series, to lay out how the German live streaming start-up has fared recently.

Hoffmann said that the past year has been packed with innovation, and that Nanocosmos had been planning on using IBC to showcase a walkthrough for the B2B live streaming service. There has been a lot of growth in new use cases, such as town halls and hybrid meetings, which have gone looking for ultra-low-latency options like Nanocosmos.

To this end, two very prominent German corporations knocked on the door. A major logistics provider wanted a way to carry out corporate townhall meetings, while maintaining an interactive audience component. A transport and infrastructure provider used the Nanocosmos platform to provide public updates, to comply with a legal requirement for transparency.

Both examples require a smooth user experience to prevent the meetings falling into farce. Nearly every reader will have attended a live session sometime in the past two years where things fell off the rails due to abortive audience participation attempts.

Having such a poor user experience in a project that carries the threat of legal action if you could be accused of trying to keep the public in the dark is rather a big risk, but even in more conventional corporate environments, being able to convey an update or new strategy to your staff is dependent on some level of audience participation.

The arrival of these two clients was something of a surprise for Nanocosmos, which is quite used to an international customer base. However, Hoffmann does not think that Nanocosmos’ focus is going to shift to serving its domestic market. Rather, it shows how the bleeding-edge world of live streaming is now cropping up in use cases that would have been very unlikely just some two years ago.

Because live streaming is such a multifaceted problem to solve, in terms of how it needs to be fitted to your existing technology stack, customers such as those German arrivals have to hunt for a bespoke provider. As Hoffmann put it, you cannot simply ask Google to solve that problem.

Hoffmann added that integrating video conferencing capabilities into the platform, called nanoMeet, became a top priority, once the extent of the pandemic became clear. Over the past two years, Hoffmann says the product has matured significantly. This has led to some new uses, with music concerts with interactive fan engagement being prominent. The conferencing tools allow for VIP rooms and behind the scenes features.

Auctions, retail, and live gaming are Nanocosmos’ traditional customers, but things are now branching out. Being in Germany, it was inevitable that the major automakers were asked about, but Hoffmann could not say if such conversations had taken place.

Faultline has bemoaned the state of video services in the automotive sector previously, yet it remains one of the biggest expansion opportunities – particularly in an era where short-form and user-generated content is thriving. Of course, a significant shift in working habits might derail many of the self-driving ridesharing ventures, many of which featured video advertising as a prominent revenue stream.

The goal for the next year is to further swell the platform’s capabilities. IBC was meant to help get the Nanocosmos brand out in front of a bunch of new customer types. In addition, the new targets are those that might have passed on the offering in the past, when it was more solely focused on live streaming.

Hoffmann said that the shift in the customer need for interactivity would likely have happened without the pandemic as a driver, but that it would have taken much longer. The process has been a huge learning curve, she added, saying that in hindsight it is obvious that those two new German customers would have wanted something like Nanocosmos for their operations, yet at the time, they did not seem to be likely targets.

The Nanocosmos platform is constructed from a number of elements, starting with the video ingest – done via a smartphone app or web browser. The initial video is brought into the nanoStream Cloud Global CDN, which as the name implies, begins transporting the video stream to its required destination.

The client-side devices use the nanoStream Player SDK to power applications, or the H5 Live stack for HTML5 web browsers. For live encoding, H.264 or AAC can be transported via RTMP, or you can opt for a straight WebRTC stream. Once in the nanoStream Cloud, those feeds can be transported to their destinations, with ABR and transcoding support baked in.

For the likes of Nanocosmos, the pandemic-related shift in video needs is a big opportunity. The balancing act is chasing a few very large deals in media and entertainment, or many more but smaller deals in new areas. An overarching question is what proportion of the desk jobs that successfully transferred to home working will remain remote over the next five years?

Heavy R&D investments made on the basis that this shift in working location will be permanent could prove disastrous, if those jobs are clawed back into the office. If they remain remote, then infrastructure to support those workers and make them feel part of a workforce, is needed – for both social video events, as well as corporate updates, and their day-to-day tasks.

Poor user experience crops up frequently in our workdays, and for video it will be no different. There are dozens of well-funded start-ups with pitch decks decrying the lost value of slow applications, poor page loading times, or the disorganization of back-end office systems. For video platforms, there will soon be a plethora of similar claims made about the UX problems of video streaming, and for the likes of Nanocosmos, this could be quite a business opportunity.