Sia is a blockchain platform for decentralized cloud storage and it has recently released a new release that includes several updates, among which the main addition is the ability to stream videos over local network. The new version is called v1.3.3 and its release was announced on the official Sia Twitter account: “Sia v1.3.3 release is here!! Main new feature: video streaming (over local network). This is a huge step for Sia. Learn how to get started streaming at our blog.” The development team of Sia pointed out that this new function would allow the users to store and stream videos at a lower cost than when using other platforms on the internet. Likewise, the Sia team considers their solution is the first step towards offering a basic functionality in the network and improving the upload times of the files.
The users of the Sia blockchain network can try the new function of the platform by downloading a Sia instance that allows them to execute the platform and manage the data that is uploaded to the network. This way, when the user uploads a file to the network, Sia will send the file divided in various parts (around 30 or more parts). The parts will be encrypted, separated and uploaded to various servers.
While the file is being uploaded, other users will be able to visualize it using an URL that could be reproduced using any video player (VLC for example), since the Sia API uses a module that provides a final point of transmission. This point represents a place where all the files from all the servers are obtained, deciphered, assembled and streamed. All these processes are performed on the go, without the necessity to buffer the file on the disk of the Sia instance.
In this sense, the new Sia update allows the users to retransmit a video and share there retransmissions between various users participating in the network. One of the goals in the future is to add the possibility to share them outside the Sia network as well. All this can be done instantaneously because the video is not buffered on the Sia dis, but encrypted in the blockchain network instead. Likewise, the file could be deleted locally after the upload is complete, because it would be stored safely on the servers.
This is what the Sia developers say about the new update: “When using Sia you need to run a Sia instance on your machine. This instance basically manages the files you upload to the network. Whenever you upload a file, Sia will split it apart into 30 or more pieces, encrypt each piece separately and upload the pieces to a number of hosts according to the number of pieces. Once the upload finished you can delete the file locally.
Starting from the upcoming version 1.3.3 the Sia API will provide a streaming endpoint in the renter module. Technically the renter module fetches the file pieces from all the hosts, decrypts and assembles them and streams the file to a capable media player e. g. VLC. All this is done on the fly, the video file is not buffered on the disk of the Sia instance. This is a great milestone, because:
From a technical point of view, this feature is needed if you share a video with someone else in the Sia network. So this is a real step towards the video sharing feature.
From use case point of view, this enables Sia to be deployed in business use cases for real. Video streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime TV, etc. can drastically reduce the cost for transferring data via 3rd party cloud platforms like AWS or Azure.”
To execute these video transmissions, the users need to use their Siacoins, which represent native tokens of the platform. By using their Siacoins, the users can rent storage from the hosts and this information will be stored in smart contracts in the Sia blockchain network. Moreover, the Sia development team said that now all the video will take between five and ten minutes to upload. After that period, the files can be shared without any serious setbacks.
The company believes that this new functionality to stream videos on the platform has a real business potential and affirms that platforms such as Netflix or Amazon TV will have the possibility to stream videos with lower costs than other networks out there on the market, since the distribution of the files presents a more economical alternative than the traditional storage on servers.
This way, Sia is trying to convert in a reliable network for storage and content distribution on the internet, which could put it in direct competition with the BitTorrent protocol due to their similar characteristics.
BitTorrent is a protocol for decentralized exchange (peer-to-peer) of files on the internet and it is one of the most used platforms on the Web after Megaupload closed its door. Almost 40% of the content on the internet is transferred using the BitTorrent protocol, according to the company.
Just like Sia, BitTorren offers an alternative for the centralized storage. Because of this, the protocol is dedicated to connecting the users in a groups that performs simultaneous transfer of content and its reproduction.
The concept of both platforms seems very similar, because both BitTorrent and Sia are looking for ways to share content online in a decentralized, economical and fast way. One of the differences between the two platforms is that BitTotrrent stores and shares its files directly from its nodes, while Sia divides the file and distributes it between various servers connected to its blockchain network and these files can only be reconstructed and deciphered exclusively with the indicated private key.
This characteristic of the Sia blockchain network increases the security and privacy of the files shared and stored in the network, which could result in a commercial competition between both initiatives in the future and offer more decentralized alternatives to the multimedia market when it comes to storage and streaming of online content.