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Dual-Screen Technology Web Application

A new type of dual-screen (TV and Web) solution that enables watching a show on a big screen while interacting online (commenting, voting, chatting, making bets, etc.).

The British TV channel partnered with our customer to build a new type of Social TV software. The customer turned to Altoros to develop a scalable application that would combine live video broadcasting with action replays, real-time statistics, voting tools, instant comments from watchers and experts, and other interactive features.

Our customer provided us only with a high-level architecture description. There was no detailed technical specification for the solution, so our team had to design low-level architecture from scratch and make the application as scalable as possible to fit the changing requirements.

It was estimated that the solution would be used by over 1,000,000 users simultaneously. Thus, it required a robust user interface and a fail-proof TCP connection with the server. It also had to be scalable and flexible enough to be employed for different types of TV shows.

The dual screen Web platform was to be launched in a very short period of time, so that it could support the first game of the World Cup 2010 and enable fans to join the real time chat while watching the game.

The architecture of the solution was designed to be as flexible as possible to fit the changing requirements. At first, the customer wanted the software to be written in Flash but they changed their mind later and decided that it should be in JavaScript. As a result, the team made a solution supporting both languages and featuring the functionality provided by both technologies.

The software was built in a short period of time, so ITV Live was able to launch it together with the first game of the World Cup 2010.

The system core can be leveraged to build different types of dual-screen technology applications. Every component of the solution can be utilized independently. This allows re-using modules in future solutions, which shortens time-to-market and lowers development costs.

To date, the platform has been employed for hosting four different types of TV shows, including The World Cup, The X Factor, and I’m A Celebrity for ITV Live as well as Famous and Fearless for Channel 4.

Now the solution enables users to select episodes of a series or watch recorded versions of programs, in case two different shows are broadcast simultaneously. It also supports social networks, e.g., I’m A Celebrity integrates with Twitter and Facebook. In addition, content generated during broadcasts, such as clips and quizzes, can now be embedded into the website of the show to provide a permanent record of the real-time experience.

Technology Stack

Server Platform

Debian 5.0.7

Client Platform/Application Server

Multiplatform clients / Nginx

Technologies

Ruby on Rails, Riak, Capistrano, rSpec, jQuery, HTML, CSS

Programming Language

Ruby, JavaScript

Database

MySQL

Development Environment

Various text editors

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