Tin Can Stories

The team envisions applications that would be possible by creating the RTMP protocol.

Late 2000 or early 2001


A professor gives a lecture to a class over the Internet. He has a video feed where he can talk. He can also deliver documents, pre-created video clips, slides, or simulations created as Flash movies. The students submit questions as the professor is talking. Since the professor sees the questions as he is talking he can incorporate answers into the lecture without any interruptions in his presentation. The students provide real time feedback to the professor. They indicate if they already know the material, if the material is interesting or boring, and if they understand or are confused. The professor uses this real time information to adjust his lecture to skip over topics students know already or to spend more time on confusing topics.

Personal Communications Center

If I want to contact someone today, do I call their home phone, call their cell phone, their work phone, send e-mail, page them, or call their assistant? It gets a bit complicated. What if I simply had Jon’s communication center? Any time someone wants to contact me, they visit my virtual communications center. Once there, they can see my current status. Am I available, busy, on vacation, do I prefer calls in the morning, or afternoon? They can choose to contact me with a text message, a voice message, or a video message. They can say if the message is urgent or low priority. They can request a live contact or leave a message for later. This could all be done in a single interface that provides different options and information to my coworkers, friends and family.

Company Meeting

Macromedia is presenting an online company meeting. Rob, Betsey and Kevin all sit in front of computers with video cameras. They each have a Flash UI that allows them to control their video transmission and to display the slides they have pre-created in Flash. The moderator has a Flash UI that controls whose camera is active. After the execs have run through the agenda, people can submit a question with their own video camera or via a chat interface if they do not have a microphone or camera. The questions appear in the moderator’s inbox. The moderator can select the questions, display them to the audience and allow the appropriate executive to answer the question. The entire presentation is stored on a Tin Can server so the meeting can be viewed by anyone at a later time.

Front Door Cam

Imagine that I place a camera, display, speakers and microphone at the front door of my home. I specify that any time movement is detected at my front door, video of the entry should be displayed on my personal communicator. If it’s a salesman, I ignore it. If it’s a vandal, I ask them to “put the egg down gently,” if it is the UPS guy, I ask him to leave the package with the neighbor, if it is a friend, I apologize for not being home, or ask him to meet me at the pub down the street. If I don’t answer, the door cam has an interface for the visitor to leave a message. If I don’t trust motion detection, the visitor can press a button to call my cell phone. If I am at home, the visitor will be displayed on my home wall screen.

Customer Service

I visit a web site selling cars and I want to ask a question of a sales person. I open the Flash customer support movie. It gives me a live voice and video connection to a customer service rep. The customer service rep has a different UI. They have the ability to also select information and video clips to be displayed in my movie so they can give me the sales pitch. If I am interested in a particular car, they can show me video of that car in the snow or in different driving conditions for a customized sales pitch. They can also select background music to put me into a buying mood. The customer service manager can watch both sides of the conversation from the management UI so they can monitor the technique of the sales person.

Car Race

I am watching a car race, there are cameras at each turn and in the cars. I value the editing and filtering provided by the TV crew but I also have a favorite driver I want to watch closely. I can choose to watch the edited feed or I use a Flash UI to choose the camera I want to watch. The UI consists of a list of cars with cameras. I click on any car to see the live view from the car, or I select the car and see a timeline of the entire race and review any portion of the video from the car. The UI for the timeline is an elapsed time, or a lap number and a position on the track. I can also view the video from any of the cameras around the track. Each racetrack would has a custom Flash UI that shows the course. This UI is a front-end for a Tin Can video server.

Group Story Game

Imagine a story telling game based on the idea of improv comedy. The game sets an initial premise for a story. Each participant in the game can record a 30 second video piece for the first part of the story. All of the participants then vote on which is the best video piece. That piece becomes the first part of the story. The story continues in this manner. The participant whose video is selected the most times wins the game. Also, the complete story is preserved as a piece of content on the Internet. A custom Flash movie provides the interface for building the story and a Tin Can server stores the story.

There is also another version of the game where people take turns and their segment is always included on their turn. The participants vote on the best segment.

The moderator of the game has a special Flash movie where they can control the progression of the game.

Remote Presence

I want to stay in contact with my sister and nephews in San Diego. I have a video camera attached to a PC in my house. Whenever, I walk by the camera, I appear on a display at my sister’s house in San Diego. Whenever someone at my sister’s home walks by the camera I see them or get a message. If my nephew gets a new bicycle, he walks in front of the camera and says “Hey Jon, look at my new bike.” If I am there, I tell him how I want to see him ride it the next time I visit. If I am not there, the message is stored and I can view it when I get home. This “always on” communication does not cost me anything beyond the cost of my home DSL connection. I can informally communicate with family and close friends very quickly and easily. I could also use this to communicate with my dog while in the office.

Millionaire Game

Imagine an on-line version of the Millionaire TV game show. Regis is in a studio and the entire audience is sitting in front of their computers with two-way voice and video. Regis does the introduction and presents a set of questions. Anyone in the audience can answer the questions. Whoever gives the correct answers to the questions first becomes the contestant. This person’s video feed then goes live to everyone along with Regis’ video and they play the game. There is a custom Flash UI for members of the audience. There is a custom UI for the host. A central Tin Can server manages all the interaction.

Real Time Camcorder

I am traveling in Europe. I have my wireless communicator. It has a built in camera that records video segments direct to my web site. As I travel around, my friends can see my real time video view or review any of the stored video from earlier in the day. I had promised my father that I would show him the Eiffel Tower so when I arrive, I turn on my camera and send him the live feed. As I am visiting the tower, he tells me in real time that which parts he wants to see. I have blended my stored history and communication with real time communication using a Tin Can communicator and Tin Can server.