The coronavirus pandemic has severely impacted the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world.
Health concerns obviously have priority at the moment, but in many cases that comes at the expense of social interaction.
A few months ago, people could still go to a concert, a sporting event, a movie theater, or organize a barbecue with friends. Today, these types of mass interactions are discouraged or even forbidden.
Luckily, there are options to connect remotely, both in text and through specialized video apps. Those who want to watch Netflix with friends can use “Netflix Party,” for example. “TwoSeven” does the same and also supports other platforms including Amazon, HBO Now, and YouTube.
But outside of the main video services, things get tricky. Watching that video compilation you made of last year’s party or vacation, for example. Luckily, the torrent-powered service “Come Over” can do exactly that. And you don’t have to sign up for anything either.
With Come Over you simply select a video from your computer. The service then returns a link, which can be shared with anyone who’s invited. When everyone’s present, the host can start the video and it will play everywhere at the same time, from a regular web browser.
To add an extra layer of social interaction, the site has a built-in chat functionality. This allows viewers to comment and interact while the video is playing.
The beauty of it all is that the site itself doesn’t store any video. Instead, Come Over uses WebRTC, which allows browsers to communicate directly. WebTorrent is built on top of that, which coordinates the video streaming part.
TorrentFreak spoke to Luc, the creator of Come Over, who informs us that he wanted to make a peer-to-peer video streaming service. This is ideal for a hobby project, as there are barely any costs involved. All the streaming is done by users. And it’s not only cost-effective but also very useful.
“I spend a lot of time online with friends from the internet and Come Over came to me as something that could be really useful, also for myself,” Luc tells us.
The developer initially wanted to use the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), which is also P2P-based. However, when he soon became aware of WebTorrent and this turned out to be an even better match.
“When I started to build the website, I stumbled upon WebTorrent, which is way more simple and targeted for my use case,” Luc says.
The end result is a service where users can stream videos to anyone in just a few clicks and without the need to create torrents or having to wait until an upload is finished.
Come Over is a hobby project and Luc doesn’t have the time to work on it around the clock. In the future, however, he hopes to make it even more decentralized. For example, the site currently relies on a ‘hub’ to post torrent tracker details which he plans to embed in the URL in the future.
TorrentFreak tested Come Over by streaming a copy of the TPB AFK documentary, which worked. However, the service is not without limitations. The users obviously need plenty of bandwidth and Luc says that there are other bugs as well.
Perhaps people shouldn’t rely on it without proper testing, but as a demonstration of a simple torrent-powered streaming service, it certainly works.