In 2007 BitLet launched a web-based Java applet which allows users to download .torrent files without having a BitTorrent client installed. For this innovation Bitlet received a nomination for the Webware 100 Awards where the hobby project competed with companies backed by millions of dollars.
Although they didn’t win the award, the evolution of Bitlet continued steadily. After its introduction it added features such as music streaming (currently utilized by mininova) and the ‘bookmarklet‘ which allows users to inject a direct download link into torrent search engines. Today Bitlet adds video streaming to this list, another long awaited addition.
The experimental video streaming feature allows users to stream video using BitTorrent and watch the file, even as it’s still downloading. The first release only supports videos in the Ogg format, but developer Daniele Castagna told TorrentFreak that he might extend this list, depending on how much time he can spend on the project.
In order to make Bitlet work with streaming video a few modifications had to be made, but its still good old BitTorrent technology under the hood. Daniele has put up a few example videos on the site and below them are instructions on how to stream your own files using Bitlet.
There are a few important conditions to fulfill in order to achieve an optimal streaming experience. Of primary importance is the need for sufficient seeds and peers to guarantee a decent download speed. Besides this, the playback time will depend on the quality of the video - the higher the quality, the more bandwidth is needed.
The streaming feature seems to be working well, and it’s actually the first live example of BitTorrent video streaming which doesn’t require the installation of any obscure third party applications. The only thing needed is an up-to-date version of Java, which most people already have installed.
Although current bandwidth prices are dropping, most video services such as YouTube are paying millions of dollars for traditional server side streaming. Especially high quality video is costly to stream, and peer-to-peer technology can certainly make a huge difference there.