Steamboat Springs grad designs Olympic video technology
August 3, 2012
Streaming Olympic TV
Viewers have been experiencing varied results in following Olympic action on the live streaming video from NBC, Comcast and other television networks worldwide, according to media reports. The performance of the system varies with the amount of telecommunications bandwidth in different countries and in how the networks choose to deliver the signal.
On Friday, a feed of men’s Olympic tennis delivered a crisp image, but there were times when the feed stopped and started, missing some of the action.
In Steamboat Springs, the video feeds are easy to access for Comcast customers via NBCOlympics.com/liveextra. Be prepared to input your customer ID and password.
Steamboat Springs — Estimates of the number of people who watched the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games on television approached 4 billion, but a growing number of Olympic fans who don't want to wait for packaged prime-time coverage are watching live streaming video feeds of the television coverage.
Jesse Rosenzweig, 36 and a 1994 graduate of Steamboat Springs High School, is a software engineer at the forefront of the developing technology that allows media companies to deliver the live streaming video of the competitions to home computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones.
Rosenzweig is a founding partner and chief technology officer for Portland, Ore.-based Elemental Technologies — which has contracted with television networks all across the world, including NBC in the U.S. — to provide its Elemental Live systems for live video streams of the Olympic Games.
Elemental Technologies, in its sixth year, still would be considered a startup by many. But the company scored a coup by going first to British television to land a significant contract for the streaming video of everything from men's basketball to indoor track cycling to beach volleyball. Elemental Technologies then moved on to line up other broadcast outlets across the world. The video feed is up 24/7 and provides high definition, Rosenzweig wrote to the Steamboat Today.
"The big contract was with the BBC, and then every set of countries as its own broadcaster," Rosenzweig said in a phone interview. "The Olympic Committee doesn't allow you to broadcast outside your region. We really focused on the BBC as the beachhead opportunity. But it was still a big competition (with other providers) everywhere we went."
Rosenzweig grew up in Steamboat kayaking and playing soccer in the late 1970s, an era when personal computers were in their infancy.
His parents, Marty and Vickie Rosenzweig, divide their time between traveling and still enjoying Steamboat in the summer. Marty Rosenzweig started a business called Mountain High Technology, which initially was devoted to repairing electronics like televisions. But later, as his customers increasingly asked him to refer them to someone who worked on computers, he moved his business in that direction.
It was an era when IBM personal computers dominated, but Marty Rosenzweig became adept at helping clients build clones.
The family lived in the countryside outside Steamboat, and when Jesse didn't have soccer practice after school, he gravitated to the shop. And although he tinkered with components and built a ham radio, it really was writing code that captivated him.
While still in high school, he experimented with writing the software for his own computer games (remember, this was the era of Pong).
"He taught himself how to program," Marty Rosenzweig said. "Adults are afraid to make mistakes, but kids do stuff, and they make mistakes, and as a kid, you just see how eventually it could work."
Vickie Rosenzweig recalls that it was under the guidance of Steamboat Springs High School science teacher Bud Romberg that Jesse really engaged the physical sciences: physics and chemistry.
"As soon as he took his first class with Bud Romberg, it was like the light bulb went on in his head," Vickie Rosenzweig said.
Jesse Rosenzweig enrolled in the University of Colorado's computer science program, and during his summer breaks in Steamboat, he worked at the nationally ranked general contracting firm TIC, where he dug into the firm's proprietary software and rewrote parts to modernize it.
After graduation, Rosenzweig held software engineering positions with Qualcomm and Ericsson. He moved on to Pixelworks where he was instrumental in the developments of that company's System Development Kit that drives all Pixelworks-based digital televisions today.
He is joined by former Pixelworks colleagues at Elemental Technologies, where he has taken a lead role in creating the software for the live video streaming products.
"For the past few years, I led the software development team that created Elemental Live and Elemental Server, which power live content and video clips for the Olympics as well as many other video applications online," Rosenzweig wrote this week in an email.
In a rapidly transforming world of digital communications, Rosenzweig says it's difficult to imagine one single outlet or appliance that could dominate the landscape. Instead, he sees the consumer's appetite for ultimate flexibility continuing to expand.
"The answer is many different kinds of devices," he said.
Ironically, Rosenzweig prefers to spend his leisure time kayaking the rushing rivers that pour into the Columbia River Gorge east of Portland and doesn't spend much time watching television.
Lately, when he does sit down in front of a screen, it's apt to be with his 3 1/2-year-old daughter, Ella, to watch the action from the Olympics.
"She knows how to drive the iPad pretty well, he said. "She's really into swimming, but trying to get her to watch kayaking — it's pretty hard."
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com