When I opened my mail box today and picked up this month’s Streaming Media Magazine, David Caruso, aka Horatio Caine on CSI Miami, stared out at me from the cover in his trademark shades. Not exactly what you expect from a magazine aimed at video geeks, but apparently Caruso is more than an actor, he also has some ideas about how to transform media delivery and has teamed up with two streaming media industry heavy weights to form a new company called Lexicon that has the lofty goal of changing streaming media as we know it.
Caruso has joined forces with Nils Lahr whose resume includes helping define the spec for a codec that would later become MPEG-4 and who was there at some key moments in streaming media history, while the other partner, Frank Nein, has been involved in major event web casting for years.
While the article doesn’t get into a great deal of detail about where Lexicon is headed—partly because it says the company is still developing its products, only surfacing to get some media attention—there are some clues about what they intend to do and it seems to follow two separate tracks.
On one hand, you have Caruso pushing a vision of a mashup platform under the protection of the media brand, so you might be able to have access to every shot from every scene in your favorite show (including maybe even those that ended up on the cutting room floor). Lexicon technology would enable you to string those scenes together any way you like such as an entire show just from one character’s point of view. The power of such an approach would be huge, but it would take a tremendously powerful piece of software to pull it off.
The other piece is more in line with Caruso’s partner’s roles as video geeks and involves creating a software bridge that would enable you to play a video—whether it’s Flash, Windows Media or QuickTime, regardless of operating system or device—and play that video back for you. Consider today for instance, according to the article, that you can’t play Flash on 93% of the world’s cell phones. That’s an astounding number, but even more astonishing when you consider that Flash Player penetration on the desktop approaches 98%.
But that’s not all. In a demo shared with the author of the article, Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen (who is a colleague of mine), Lexicon showed this software can go so far as to deliver custom channels from multiple video sources, which article describes as follows:
The solution allows for instant access of any video on demand or live feed from any video source on the internet and rebroadcasts via a personalized channel. “The result is the first ever streaming social experience allowing a group of friends to all tune into a single live internet broadcast, device and OS-independent, and sling video from any source into the live feed allowing everyone turned in to view and experience the same video at the exact same time together,” says Lahr.
If Lexicon could find a way to play a video without regard to OS, player or device, while generating custom channels for individuals in a social setting, they would have something very special indeed. If they could also help facilitate Caruso's mashup vision, that would be an incredible feat, but before we get too excited, all they have today appears to be some big names and a good publicity engine, fueled by Caruso's Hollywood credentials.
What makes this company’s hype machine more than your average vaporware to me, however, is the caliber of the people behind the project. At some point, you need to put up or shut up, but for now, this team is about as intriguing as you hope to find, and if they pull off even a part of this, their future looks bright, whether or not Caruso wears those trademark shades.