DoubleTake Technologies Creates Futuristic 2nd Screen Control Using PubNub

DoubleTake Technologies Creates Futuristic 2nd Screen Control

DoubleTake Technologies specializes in creative interactive solutions on devices including transparent touch screens, touch windows, touch walls, and tablets. Their products look like something out of a science fiction movie, allowing users to navigate and move windows on wall touch screens.

DoubleTake has provided interactive solutions for NASA, SAP, Fujitsu, CBS, and Chevrolet. Additionally, their DreamScreen has been seen on Paula Abdul’s Live to Dance and in Britney Spears’s Till the World Ends.

One product in particular is the award-winning LaunchPad that uses DoubleTake’s FlickIT technology to empower users to flick or swipe content between any number of devices, and is available on any touch tablet or mouse based desktop computer. Check out the video below to see it in action:

Challenges

LaunchPad originally used a custom long polling custom that was built in-house. In their first release, DoubleTake soon found this self-hosting messaging had numerous issues with reliability and latency, as well as scalability when looking ahead to future growth.

“I want to guarantee that whenever somebody grabs a video and threw it from one screen to the other, whether it’s a tablet or a TV, that the content actually showed up on the screen. We were having problems when we’d flick it, we’d sit there and wait, and nothing would show up, or we’d get an error message, and we wouldn’t know why,” said Don Kerr, co-founder and Chief Software Architect.

LaunchPad’s core functionality is being able to fluidly throw one window to the other, so any latency and lag in that process makes the product ineffective. Their in-house custom solution had high latency and unpredictable reliability. Additionally when looking towards the future, they needed a real-time service that would scale as more users used the technology. DoubleTake encountered these issues when using the custom long polling solution, and began looking at real-time service providers.

“When I found PubNub, and how easy it was to do it in JavaScript, I was like hands down, I get the performance, the reliability, and it’s easy to use,” said Kerr.

Solution

Before their second release, DoubleTake had replaced their custom long polling and had fully implemented the PubNub Real-Time Network in under a day. Originally using ActionScript with Flex, they easily were able to add PubNub with HTML5 and JavaScript built in with the original ActionScript and Flex.

LaunchPad uses a number of PubNub features to power the real-time flicking capabilities in the app including Unicast, Broadcast and History.

“We use PubNub to essentially assign a channel to each screen, then enable a device to do point to point messaging between those screens, targeting one specific screen. We also use the broadcast feature, one device to many screens at one time,” said Kerr.

Keeping that channel open between the device and a screen is what allows a user to flick a window between the two in real-time, all in one fluid motion with no lag or delay. Using Unicast, LaunchPad establishes a point to point connection between two devices, while Broadcast allows a user to message to a large number of screens simultaneously.

In addition to Unicast and Broadcast, DoubleTake also uses PubNub Storage and Playback (History) to ensure the reliability of LaunchPad. Storage and Playback ensures that the window will get from one screen to another, even if there is a disruption in the connection.

“History is very valuable to us as well. If I flick something and there is an interruption in the connection, I still want that to show up a second later if it failed,” Kerr said.

Results

Since replacing their custom solution with PubNub, DoubleTake has noticed a significant reduction in latency and a large improvement in reliability.

“It’s definitely gotten faster and more reliable. As soon as the animation of the content leaving the first device occurs, it should appear on the second screen. You need that milli-millisecond speed. It’s not just about sending the message, it’s about creating that whole flicking experience,” said Kerr.

Looking towards the future, PubNub also enables LaunchPad to scale seamlessly as the number of users using the app continues to grow. As of now, LaunchPad is a custom solution. However, when LaunchPad is rolled out as a consumer app in the future, DoubleTake went with PubNub knowing that it can scale to handle a rapid fluctuation in usage.

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“When building LaunchPad we needed a completely reliable solution. We tried other open source solutions but the flicking gesture failed far too often. PubNub provides an easy to use API that proved ultra reliable. Best of all, we knew The PubNub RealTime Network would scale to meet the growing demand today’s award is bringing DoubleTake,” said Ron Kerr, Founder and CEO.

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