Penxy is an iOS app that turns your mobile device into a wireless presentation remote control. A presenter can simply upload a presentation file to the cloud and display it on any TV or projector via a computer’s browser. The presenter can then advance the slide on the app with the swipe of a finger, and see the slide advance on screen in real-time. The app also shows a preview of the next slide, and allows scrolling through the thumbnail previews to skip directly to any slide. A timer helps you stay on track, and slide notes are available in case you need a reminder.
Although Penxy is an excellent remote for live presentations, its power extends far beyond the room where you are presenting. It can livestream slides and voice over the internet to any number of remote viewers – all they need is a link you provide beforehand and a browser on any device.
If audience members are unable to tune in live, Penxy automatically creates a voice-synced recording of your slide presentation, available at the same link for later viewing. This feature allows you to build, without any extra effort, a high-quality library of your content that you can share or monetize as you see fit.
Beginning with the development of the prototype app, Penxy began looking for a tool that would help them connect client apps easily. At that time, they had three key concerns. First, they needed a real-time network that would scale easily. Second, they needed low message latency to ensure the real-time speed and functionality within the app. Lastly, they needed easy integration that wouldn’t cut into development time. With these three concerns, Penxy had to decide whether to build a custom real-time infrastructure in-house or use a real-time service provider.
Penxy began their build-vs-buy discussion on whether to use a real-time service or build their own custom message broker. They first prototyped a custom message broker built on Windows Azure and Redis, but because it required a massive server side code, they soon realized the high cost of doing so. Realizing that a real-time service provider would reduce development costs and allow them to focus more on their product, Penxy decided to implement the PubNub Real-Time Network.
PubNub was easily integrated into the app to replace the custom message broker. Using PubNub’s Simple REST API, it took little time to fully implement PubNub into the Penxy app.
PubNub powers all of the real-time communication within the Penxy app, from slide switches to polls to sound broadcasting. Because the app enables thousands of users to watch a presentation at a given time, it requires an infrastructure that can broadcast a message to a large number of users in real-time. Using the PubNub Broadcast feature, Penxy can do just that. And because of the PubNub Real-Time Network’s easy scalability, the app can handle fluctuations in audience size, from a small number to thousands of users.
“Using PubNub, we’ve made numerous stability and back-end improvements to ensure a seamless user experience for both the presenter and the audience,” said Alexey Petrov, Penxy CTO.
Lastly, low latency is key for fast and smooth interaction between the presenter and the audience to fully emulate a real-life presentation. Penxy needed a reliable and consistent real-time service that would enable this real-time interaction.
“Our clicker feature should work even better that hardware clicker – reliable and fast. That’s why latency is one of the most important parameters for Penxy,” said Petrov.
The quick integration of the PubNub Real-Time Network greatly reduced both development costs and development time, and Penxy was able to release their app months earlier than if they built their own custom real-time infrastructure.
In addition to quick integration, the development team utilizes PubNub’s expansive library of languages and SDKs to develop the Penxy app compatible with a growing number of devices. Most recently, they announced the release of Penxy for iPhone, the latest iOS app for controlling, livestreaming, and recording slide presentations.
“We start developing Penxy in April 2013 and it took us 7 month to ship the product. I believe that building our own message broker would have taken another 3-5 months. So basically, we reduced our time-to-market by 40%,” said Petrov.