A new video streaming service called Qik has been getting some buzz lately. If you're familiar with UStream.tv, Veodia, and Comvu, the idea for Qik is similar: take a mobile phone with a video camera on a fast mobile connection, and stream video live for other people to watch. The service borrows a page from Kyte.tv and UStream in integrating live chat that allows broadcasters to interact with the users--although Qik steps it up a notch by letting the broadcaster simply reply using the phone's integrated microphone instead of having to type out text on the phone's keypad.
To compensate for network lag, the application will calculate the delay and show it in the corner of the screen. In testing over a 3G connection I got the delay up to about a minute, although if you're using the service over Wi-Fi, it's extremely nimble. You can also record videos for uploading later, when away from a data stream of Wi-Fi hot spot. The next time you connect, it'll automatically upload your video--which is a nice touch.
The beauty of Qik is that it's wonderfully simple to use and participate in. People viewing your video either via Qik.com or on a video embed can chat if it's live, and the second it goes offline, the player acts just like any other Web video, and turns the live chat into a comment thread. While the quality of the video leaves something to be desired when compared with Web video hosting services like YouTube, Viddler and Vimeo, it's limited to the mobile network connection and the often lackluster lenses found on camera phones. Qik's creators tell me there are plans to add a higher quality stream to the Nokia N95 and other high-end handsets in the near future.
The service is currently in private alpha, and limited to a range of Nokia phones on the S60 platform. The application itself is only a little over 300k, and downloads in seconds. We didn't get a chance to give it a spin over a slower connection like EDGE, but based on the 3G performance, you likely wouldn't want to. In the pipeline for future updates are mobile-to-mobile streaming (sending and receiving video), integration with social networking sites like Facebook, and additional handset support.
I've embedded an example of Qik after the break. You can also check out whoever's live streaming at the moment on the service's live page.