Kaltura acquires RAPT Media. What this means for interactive video.

This is an exciting time to work in video. On May 25th 2018, Kaltura, a leading online video platform (OVP), announced its acquisition of RAPT Media, a leading interactive video service. This is great news for Kaltura and RAPT customers, as it will provide a seamless integration and powerful combined suite of capabilities. Congratulations to Erika Trautman, and the whole team at RAPT for working to pioneer the interactive video space and reaching this significant milestone.

Interactive video has emerged as a critical method for engaging viewers and revealing behavioral data for Marketing, eCommerce, and eLearning communications. The industry has come a long way since both RAPT and HapYak were founded. Five years ago, we worked with a relatively small number of thought leaders and early adopters who led the way with this emerging technology. That early work saw trial and error with the tools, techniques, best practices, and economic models necessary to reach business goals. We persisted. Now, the industry has moved forward to the point that interactive video capabilities are considered a business must-have. Kaltura's acquisition of RAPT shows that video industry leaders are making significant moves to meet the demand.

This acquisition is part of a trend that has seen virtually all OVPs (Brightcove, Wistia, VidYard, JWPlatform, Vimeo and others) form partnerships, develop capabilities and sharpen their messaging to include the business impact of interactive video. Businesses of all sizes benefit from this realignment of video platforms to business fundamentals: KPIs and Outcomes. As video-first communication continues to transform both the employee and the customer journey alike, the need for engagement and measurement that interactive video delivers will only grow.

At HapYak, we are committed to providing the best technology, data and vertical solutions that address the business needs of today and the emerging opportunities of tomorrow. We understand that most businesses use multiple video platforms across departments which is why our approach has always been OVP agnostic. Our focus is on the customer and our goal is to take on the hard work of providing a simple solution. It's a good time to invest in video, the platforms and results have never been better.

HapYak Interactive Video for Mobile Devices

HapYak is in active development on our mobile interactive video solution. Our goal is not to simply allow videos to play inline to the Webpage (see our webcast on that topic), but to optimize the experience for the device to drive higher engagement and a better user experience.

There are several unique challenges we are working to solve that include:

  • Which types of overlays and interactions "make sense" on a mobile device?
  • How much screen space is needed to both show the video and interactive elements in a "readable" size?
  • How should the experience be optimized for portrait and landscape orientation?

Personally, I'm blown away by what our team has accomplished so far and I look forward to sharing those efforts publicly in the near future. Until then, here are a few notes on our development and some of the pitfalls we've encountered.

  1. While we desire to create the most generic solutions to work across all of our 20+ video partners, not all of them support the "playsinline" video attribute. This means that our development is currently limited to VideoJS 4 and Brightcove v5 players. We anticipate that our solutions will roll out to specific video providers as core support is added by them.
  2. Some of the open source players and plugin implementations, including < v4 VideoJS actually programmatically remove the "playsinline" attribute from the video tag. We spent a bunch of time trying to figure out why our implementation wasn't working before we figured this out.
  3. Many Android devices do not observe the HTML5 "hint" that we include to try to preload video metadata. It makes sense that devices do not want to request resources that use your data, but it creates unique technical challenges. We have had to develop new "preload" libraries as helpers to ensure HapYak can control the playback experience when a person decides to tap the play button.

In summary, we're making huge strides in creating optimized mobile video experiences, and we're learning how to solve the device and platform intricacies that our customer will run into when deploying these solutions at scale. We'll be rolling out BETA implementations shortly and would love your feedback.

LMS & LTI Product Updates

HapYak is integrated into a variety of Learning Management Systems (LMS) today. Our customers deploy interactive videos to train employees, inform customers and teach students using both our integrated Gradebook and our APIs to capture answers and award grades. This solution has been working well, but we want to make it even easier and we've been researching exactly how to do that.

Over the past year our team has analyzed the requirements of SCORM, LTI and xAPI as well as their adoption across the systems that our customers use. Based on that research we are making an investment to support the LTI standard.

Here are some details on our thinking:

SCORM remains the defacto standard for learning content, but it is was created long before current web-standards and is rapidly falling out of favor. Honestly, I cannot recall a single positive comment that a customer has made about SCORM in the past year. Our assessment is that our customers have options beyond SCORM (see below) with a richer set of capabilities and we want to invest in the richest possible integration that our customers will be happy to adopt.

xAPI (TinCan API) Our customers have repeatedly asked us about this and the trend is clear, xAPI and Learning Record Stores (LRS) are on the rise as the preferred, flexible infrastructure for learning content, but this is an area where we've decided to not be on the "bleeding" edge. Our innovation is Interactive Video, our goal for integrations is to reach the widest possible audience. Our assessment is that xAPI is simply not yet supported broadly enough, but we do plan to revisit this decision in the future.

LTI is broadly supported and provides a robust set of functionality and integration options. LTI enables single-sign-on that will enable LMS authenticated users to access the HapYak toolset, to embed HapYak experiences in Lessons, and to directly record grades in the LMS gradebook. This is exactly what our customers have asked for, and will streamline the current workflow 10-fold. We've selected LTI as the integration that will help the most people with the most complete solution.

The HapYak team is in active development of our LTI integration and plan to roll out with our first BETA customers in early 2017. If you're interested in being part of our BETA program, please let us know!