Is Periscope the next big thing in social media?

The just-released app, owned by Twitter, allows people to livestream video from their iPhones at the touch of a button. Video that can be watched by anyone else in the world with the app.

The technology is not new. Other livestreaming apps have come and, in some cases, gone.

But technology, especially video quality, has changed. And this if the first time a heavy-hitter like Twitter has entered the fray, competing directly with Meerkat – a similar app that came out a few weeks ago. Both are currently only available on the iPhone.

The idea that you can instantly see what someone else half a world away is seeing does have a certain “wow” factor. “I was watching a guy walking down the street in Paris and I was like, oh that’s pretty cool. Look at the weather in Paris,” says Vanessa Bagnulo, a social media expert with Atomic Motion Web Design and Development in Ottawa.

But Bagnulo and her colleagues wonder if Periscope will catch on in the long run. She says what most people are streaming right now is pretty boring. “If you look at our ordinary lives, not much exciting is happening. So in order to livestream something you want it to be interesting,” she says.

James Bowen is willing to give the technology a little time to prove itself. He is a professor at the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Business specializing in entrepreneurship and social media. He points out that other platforms, like YouTube, showed some pretty boring stuff at first. But then people started getting creative to attract more views. “With this platform we may see something similar, creative livestreaming approaches that weren’t possible before.”

He says widespread livestreaming is fraught with potential pitfalls, from privacy issues to inappropriate content. But there’s also an opportunity for people to make more intimate connections. Family members, for example, can instantly share their vacations with people back home – something Bowen refers to as “teleporting” into someone else’s life. “And experience it at the same moment they experience it,” he says. “So afterwards we have a shared experience which tends to bring people closer together.”