A new free TV streaming service called “Puffer” has been launched as a part of a nonprofit academic research study by a group of Stanford researchers.
The team, led by Francis Yan, a doctoral student from the computer science department at Stanford Universty, aims at improving Internet transmission and video-streaming algorithms by using AI.
As a part of a nonprofit academic study, Puffer is completely free and doesn’t show any ads. Viewers can stream up to six TV stations: CBS (KPIX 5), NBC (KNTV 11), ABC (KGO 7), FOX (KTVU 2), PBS (KQED 9), and Univision (KDTV 14).
Puffer re-transmits free over-the-air broadcast television signals without any modification to the website where viewers can watch them without paying for it.
However, the streaming service is limited to just 500 members at present so in case you are interested in watching free TV shows, we suggest that you sign up for a free account right away.
The study is about using machine learning to improve the video-streaming algorithms, likes of which are used by big players such as YouTube, Netflix, and Twitch in the streaming services industry.
This project will help them in figuring out how to train a computer “to design new algorithms that reduce glitches and stalls in streaming video” — especially over wireless networks in rural areas which have limited capacity.
The team will also try to find methods of improving picture quality and predicting how the capacity of an Internet connection changes over time.
I personally tried the service and found that the channels can be switched almost instantly, however, it takes some time to reach full quality streaming depending on your internet connection.
Users should note that Puffer doesn’t work on iPhone, iPad or Safari browser. But, it works on Chrome, Firefox, and Edge on both desktops and Android devices.
Puffer is an open-source project and interested developers can view the code on GitHub.