Innovative technology makes it possible for people all over the world to attend the Amsterdam Gay Pride Canal Parade ‘live’.

Nearly 70,000 people for whom Gay Pride is not a self-evident concept were given a 360° experience while ‘sailing’ on a boat in the Canal Parade.

12 AUGUSTUS 2015
Last Saturday, 1 August, the busiest Amsterdam Canal Pride ever was held in the Netherlands’ capital. In between all the boats filled with dancing, partying people, there was a boat whose only passengers were the ones projected on large LED screens. These ‘passengers’ were part of the Pridestream, a project whose goal was to show people all over the world unable to openly show their pride what it’s like to sail on a boat in the Boat Parade thanks to a virtual experience.

Applying innovative technology via the secure website, the Pridestream enabled everyone worldwide to experience the Canal Parade through a livestream, as if they were on a boat themselves. A 360° camera on the boat made it possible for 67,984 people in 128 countries to watch the Canal Parade. In many of these countries, homosexuality is still officially illegal or taboo. Using their smartphones, iPads or computers, they were able to see what it was like to be a passenger on one of these boats, complete with sound and video. This virtual experience was made possible for them when they moved their device, allowing them to look around, rotating a full 360⁰. Everyone could experience this feeling of freedom for themselves, and be part of the celebration and the crowds cheering from the banks of the canals.

In addition to the camera, the boat was also equipped with LED screens playing videos of people from all over the world, showing that they were also ‘sailing’ on the boat. For countries where Gay Pride is not a self-evident concept, several privacy tools were offered on the site so that people could feel safe ‘sailing’ on the boat and leaving messages.

Innovations in technology

The entire stream was broadcast via 4G, and the estimated 600,000 spectators along the Canal Parade route also created even more traffic and pressure on the network. It was a major challenge to ensure the Pridestream still worked under these stressful network conditions. In order to send the entire stream via the 4G network and to guarantee a stable and strong data signal, a variety of special techniques were applied, including SIM hubs, antennae and extenders. The fact that this connection was also maintained from a boat sailing down the canal is also unique.

Jasper Baartmans, Project Director of Interactive at N=5: Transmitting a live, full 360º stream around the world is a challenging assignment. This is even more daunting when you have to do this using a 4G network on one of the busiest days of the year in Amsterdam. This is why we tested the technology for the stream on King’s Day, and discovered that we needed 11 SIM cards to get a stable signal.’

Another major challenge in the project was to successfully transmit the 360º Pridestream feed in a mobile browser. Displaying a 360º image pre-produced in a mobile browser has already been done, and a livestream has also been transmitted in a mobile browser before. However, broadcasting a 360º livestream in a mobile browser means going one step further. This was really pushing the limits of what is currently technically possible,’ according to Ciaran Woods, Producer at MediaMonks.

The Pridestream also represented the first time that a multi-360º-camera livestream was set up. Ype van de Heide, Dutchview: Working from a control booth, we kept switching between two different 360º cameras, the livestream from the boat and a back-up camera from the banks of the canals. Having to switch continuously between these different cameras, making sure all the while that all the equipment was working the way it should was a great challenge. But we did it!

On everybody can now relive the Canal Parade in 360° and experience what it was like to be on the Pridestream; you can sail the route of the boat and look around with your device, just like on the live stream during the event.

""I am very proud KPN achieved to create a project like Pridestream. Instead of having a KPN-boat sail along with te Canal Parade, we created a unique experience for thousands of people that could not physically be present at the Parade. They were able to sail along, party along and briefly feel free. This was enabled with our technology, and with creative input and efforts of our partners of course. A couple of years ago this would not have been possible yet. Pridestream therefore is the perfect example of the role KPN wants to fore fill with its’ telecom technology."" Coen Olde Olthof - KPN
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