SpankChain Development Update 005 — December 25, 2017
Happy Holidays! 2017 was an incredible year for us and we have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season. In this merry Christmas update we’ll go over our progress since the token sale and discuss the free public New Years Day cam show we have coming up!
Since the Token Sale about a month ago, our priorities have been growing our team and continuing to build out the first product on our roadmap, the SpankChain Camsite.
We are proud to announce that we’ve added three new highly skilled developers to the SpankChain team, bringing the total developer count to nine.
- 1 new full-stack web developer
- 1 new front-end developer / designer / business development
- 1 new Solidity smart contract developer
The SpankChain Ethereum adult camsite development has been kicked off just days after the processing phase of the Token Sale ended. Our initial focus has been the most critical — and the most risky — aspect, which is our real-time video streaming component. Producing a smooth, fast, low-latency video stream is key in making our cam site world class.
Before we began developing our live video component we explored three different video streaming options before discovering a fourth, which we ultimately went with.
We’d like to share with you our thought processes when analyzing which solution to go with:
HLS (HTTP Live Streaming):
HLS, HTTP Live Streaming, is a protocol developed by Apple in 2009. At its core, the live video stream is broken down into many small (~10 second) chunks, those chunks are exposed via HTTP, and the client downloads and plays them in sequence.
HLS has the advantage of extreme portability and simplicity however the massive drawback of HLS is the latency it introduces. If chunks are 10 seconds long, the viewer will be at least 10 seconds behind which is a problem if they want to interact with the performer in real time.
WebRTC with a custom relay:
WebRTC is an open protocol for real-time peer-to-peer communication between web browsers, with an implementation released by Google in 2011, and now ratified as a W3C standard.
While WebRTC is a great protocol for peer-to-peer communication, there would be two major challenges to using it with SpankChain: Performer privacy and Bandwidth.
These challenges could be overcome using a relay server: the performer’s browser would connect over WebRTC to our relay server. Viewers would also connect over WebRTC to our relay server, which would — as the name suggests — relay the performer’s video.
Unfortunately, though, it is also quite complex: live video streaming is a complicated and nuanced problem, and even with the wealth of experience the team brings to the table, we aren’t confident that we would be able to build a robust platform within the necessary timeframe.
Hosted solutions turned out to have some interesting problems… Well, only for us in the adult entertainment space. In evaluating each of these platforms, there were three key considerations we always considered:
- Willingness to work with the adult industry
Number three turned out to be the trickiest. Working in the adult industry imposes some unique constraints on the tools and companies that are willing to work with us and we’ve been surprised by the number of providers with terms of service that exclude adult content (e.g. TokBox).
We also discovered limitations with hosted solutions. For example it is not possible to create a “tree” of streams (i.e. where the the first stream is streaming to a number of “sub-streams”, which are the streams that viewers will ultimately connect to).
In the end, we went with Agora!
They have no issues working with the adult industry, offer end to end encryption, and their advertised latency is as low as 600ms. Most importantly their global streaming infrastructure will have no problem scaling to thousands of viewers per stream.
And to celebrate we are conducting a free adult cam show on New Years Day beginning at 1:00pm PST.
We’re big believers in trust-but-verify, and we’d like to verify Agora’s “thousands of viewers” claim. So on New Years Day beginning at 1:00pm PST on SpankChain.com we’ve partnered with Giselle Palmer and Lena Paul who will be doing a free, donation based cam show, one at a time, for one hour each — or until they are finished.
In parallel to developing the SpankChain platform, we’ve been implementing the UX of our Ethereum adult camsite, and redesigning our corporate site.
Cam Site Design:
For the first version of our camsite our focus is on making the experience as intuitive as possible for both performers and viewers. This means borrowing heavily from existing UX flows and trying to mask the complexity the underlying blockchain tech.
We’re also excited to announce that in the next few days you will see a completely new and improved SpankChain.com. We wanted to create a site that was unique from others in the space, while tastefully presenting who we are and making it crystal clear as to what we do.
That’s it! Stay tuned for more SpankChain updates and don’t forget to join us on New Years at 1:00pm PST for the first SpankChain live cam show!