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BitTorrent Betting Big on Device Integration, Live Streams

BitTorrent is ready to start making noise again, with the release of a new version of its file-sharing client it hopes will be embedded across multiple new devices. The company also hopes that a long-running side project from founder Bram Cohen — his P2P-based live streaming technology — will bear fruit later this year.

As part of its latest effort to get its client embedded on connected devices, BitTorrent is partnering with Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI). Through the partnership, the software company hopes to establish a set of standards through which it will be able to stream downloaded BitTorrent files between PCs, TVs, Blu-ray players, mobile handsets and newer tablet devices.

The latest version of the BitTorrent client also places more emphasis on content, highlighting apps for creators and rights owners that make their content available over the file sharing protocol. BitTorrent has recently had some wins with some content creators distributing videos for free using its technology, and the latest version of the client places them front and center:

Most BitTorrent video distributors so far have been independent producers, like the makers of sci-fi series Pioneer One, but the technology has also been used by Dutch public broadcaster VPRO for distribution of a documentary about the U.S. economic crisis earlier this year. Either way, these distributors will be able to create apps like the one below for TED Talks:

While the release of its latest client is imminent, BitTorrent also plans to bring new functionality to the marketplace by productizing a live-streaming technology founder Bram Cohen has been working on as a side project. Cohen’s P2P-based live streaming technology, which he had been developing over the last two years under the code name Project Pheon, combines extremely low latency with extremely high offload for video delivery.

Cohen said in an interview that broadcasters could expect up to 99 percent offload for streams at scale, with latency around 5- 10 seconds. According to him, the new live-streaming client contains only about 2,000 lines of code, and produces streams that carry low overhead both for the device processor and on the wire. In addition, the streams should be able to gracefully navigate changes in network conditions, with a variable bit rate component that scales the quality of video streams delivered to the end user based on available bandwidth.

BitTorrent said the new live-streaming technology will be officially launched later this year, and the company is targeting enterprise and media customers that do large-scale live events. With such high offload, it believes the P2P live technology can benefit live sports and other fields that have large numbers of users show up for a limited time.

For an earlier interview with Cohen about live streaming from last year’s NewTeeVee Live, check out the below video:

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