Coronavirus lockdowns have left many physically isolated from friends and family, who may live in other neighbourhoods, cities and countries.
One solution has been the rise of videocall culture — with personal and professional lives switching over to applications like Google Meet, Skype and Zoom. Towards the end of March, the Zoom application was downloaded more than 50 million times from the Google Store, shooting up to a valuation of $42bn.
But like everything in life, these solutions are not available to everyone equally. Even for those with access to a device capable of making video calls, what happens when you’re in an area with limited or precarious internet?
Enter SG Streaming, an initiative created by a group of engineering students at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica in Chile. It is one of 10 projects competing in a research, innovation and entrepreneurship contest run by Chilean Governmental organisation Corfo.
The SG Streaming platform takes an individual approach to the data connection to the internet network, going on to optimise the quality of video calls.
The students — Eduardo Oteiza, Vicente Dániel, Matías López, Cristóbal Matute and Daniel Vildósola — tell the website Emol that in testing, their app is 36% more efficient than platforms used by most people in Chile.
“Applications such as Zoom, Google Meet and Skype, for example, were developed in countries with very good connection quality, making them ineffective or unable to function with a low or unstable signal,” Matute said.
The site adds that more than one million students have had to switch to video calls during the quarantine, which can have a seriously negative impact on mental health when taking exams.