Together with consortium members from the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the Durban-based organisation walked away for an award for the Outstanding Contribution to Science, Engineering, Technology and Innovation through Research leading to Innovation: in a Corporate organization or Institution for their creation of the ARTIST technology solution.

Hosted by the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) in partnership with BHP Billiton, the annual event has been celebrating excellence in scientific research, technological innovation, education, capacity building, and communication for the past 15 years.

The consortium of UCT, East Coast Access (ECA) and the CSIR partnered in 2007 to research, develop and release the Adaptive Real-Time Internet Streaming Technology, commonly referred to as the ARTIST project, which addresses the widespread problem of low bandwidth and the ability to stream live video in developing regions with no interruption. This makes it particularly suited for live broadcasting in developing countries with infrastructure as limited as +/- 30kbps as it results in a far more streamlined/seamless real-time video streaming experience.

Some of the team with the award. From left: Veronica Sentongo (CSIR, Meraka Institute), Professor Mqhele E Dlodlo (UCT), Pierre van der Hoven (Tuluntulu), Selene Shah (East Coast Access / immedia), Professor Gerhard De Jager (UCT)Professor Mqhele E Dlodlo (UCT) and Selene Shah (ECA / immedia)
Some of the team with the award. Pic 1: Veronica Sentongo (CSIR, Meraka Institute), Professor Mqhele E Dlodlo (UCT),
Pierre van der Hoven (Tuluntulu), Selene Shah (East Coast Access / immedia), Professor Gerhard De Jager (UCT)
Pic 2: Professor Mqhele E Dlodlo (UCT) and Selene Shah (ECA / immedia)

ECA, immedia’s holding company, contributed to this innovative project as an SME during the technical development phase. Through ECA, the entire immedia ecosystem participated in this project – from strategy to design, development through to hosting and server infrastructure.

In addition, ECA partnered with youth radio station, YFM to pilot the technology during one of their popular daily prime-time shows, buffing up the listener’s experience with a real-time stream from their Johannesburg studios, available on their website.

The project is currently in the commercial phase licensed by Tuluntulu who are readying this product for a market that will soon have their bandwidth challenges effectively tackled.

In discussing the motivation behind this project, Bevan Andriés (Operations Director at the immedia ecosystem) states: “Being a growing organisation ourselves that is based in KZN, we understand the limitations that many struggling startups face and so recognise the empowering effect this type of technology will have in uplifting and developing growth in local communities.”

Receiving recognition at this level has been an unexpected reward for everyone involved in the ground-breaking research collaboration. Says Andriés: “By working on this project, our studio made significant learnings that we feel has helped lend perspective to much of our current work on some of the country’s leading mobile apps – specifically around real-time, up-to-the-second solutions. We are humbled to know that we were also able to help provide not just theoretical, but potentially practical answers to developing communities.”

An attitude of innovation is part of our DNA, with ECA being one of Durban’s first internet service providers, with our studio creating apps for some of the country’s leading brands, and through new ventures into digital publishing and education.

This award is a continuing recognition of the pioneering work from the immedia ecosystem of companies, proving that Durban is not a technology talent wasteland, and demonstrating what can be achieved by professionalism and passion combining to discover new answers to our common challenges.