Rapt Media patent brings native mobile interactive video to the iPhone

by Dylan Dickey |

Rapt Media is proud to announce the approval of US Patent No. 9,031,375, an innovative solution that brings mobile interactive video tech to the iPhone and other iOS devices. This comes on the heels of evolving consumer behavior that makes mobile experiences more important than ever.

Tackling a changing landscape

From checking social media to shopping online to catching up on the latest season of your favorite TV show, everything seems to be done on the go today. In the era of the smartphone, all content needs to be accessible anytime, anywhere.

In light of this, marketers are under increasing pressure to reach consumers at each moment of the day. But how can a brand expect to cut through the noise that comes from an age of 24/7 marketing messages?

A proven solution to this challenge has been to engage consumers with branded interactive experiences that puts the user in control of the content. Interactive video, of course, plays at the heart of this. There is, however, a major technical limitation that severely limits mobile viewing of this type of interactive experience for a huge portion of the market.

The problem

Apple Inc. has put over 1 billion devices running its iOS mobile operating system into the hands of consumers all over the world. It would be foolish to not consider iOS devices when building a mobile experience. The issue is that within the default Web browser, Safari, video content automatically triggers the program to quit, and another program called QuickTime to open and play the video. Given that QuickTime doesn’t have any interactivity capabilities, this was a firm roadblock for enjoying interactive video content on Apple’s devices.

A traditional solution for this would be to offer a downloadable app to allow the interactive experience. This comes with the overhead of clicking the link to the App Store, tapping the “download” button, entering a password, waiting for the download, then running the app. As each second ticks by after the decision to watch the content, more users give up, drop off, or become disinterested in going through the whole process. If they actually do download an app, they usually delete it the next day.

Innovating a solution

Rapt Media knew there had to be a better solution, so we set out to crack the code on how to natively play HTML5 video within the default iPhone Web browser. The only input needed should be to tap the play button and then watch and interact.

With this in mind, Rapt Media has created an innovative solution that enables a seamless user experience for interactive video on mobile devices.

How it works

Optimizing for iPhone

A normal video file is essentially a compressed stream of data that a computer plays back. The issue is that on the iPhone, when Safari notices a video has been triggered, it essentially says “Hey, quit Safari and launch QuickTime to play this video.”

Rapt Media’s solution to this essentially tricks the browser into playing something that gives the same user experience as video but is actually a series of still frames. Just like the cartoon flipbooks that many are familiar with from our childhoods, a series of images played in rapid succession can simulate moving images.

Keeping it tied together

The innovative way that the audio is kept in sync with the series of still images, though, is truly what the patent is about.

Being small devices, mobile phones tend to lag in processing power when compared to their desktop big brothers. The slower the processor is, the more time it will take to “think about” each frame and display it. This is only a matter of fractions of a second per frame, but when a video consists of thousands of frames, these small fractions add up to make the video noticeably lag behind the audio.

To complicate this, different models of devices have differing levels of processing ability, and what is running in the background on the device can also influence playback. The solution, then, needs to work in real time to keep the audio and video in sync based upon the abilities of the specific device that it is playing on.

Explained in the simplest of terms, Rapt Media’s newest patent is a correction mechanism. The software uses the audio track as the “master timecode” to which it is constantly making sure the stream of frames is in sync with. This entails occasionally speeding up how fast the frames play back in order to precisely get back in sync with the audio.

The user experience

All of this goes on behind the scenes, and the end-user effectively receives the same experience as they would with the desktop version of the video. More importantly, it also allows marketers to collect analytics for user interactions, viewing times, etc., for mobile viewers just as they would be able to on desktop.

Explore the full patent here.

Interested in taking advantage of this patented technology for your own branded interactive video? Contact us today.

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