An alternative put forward by European researchers turns the traditional video coding paradigm on its head.
Since digital television services began, there has been an accepted way of encoding and decoding video signals. The encoding process is more complex, and requires a great deal more processing power compared to the decoding process.
A television station transmits its signal from a single location, and highly complex equipment encodes the video content for transmission. At the receiving end are large numbers of viewers with simple aerials and television sets allowing them to decode and watch the broadcast.
Any other way of encoding and decoding would be less practical because the viewers would not be able to afford the expensive equipment needed to decode the signal if the complexity were built into the receiving end.
Video services, such as video on demand and streaming, have followed this paradigm of complex encoders operating with simple decoders. With the switch from analogue to digital broadcasting, new standards and video coding technologies have emerged, but again, these follow the same basic principal.
Something happened in 1970 that set the scene for a rethink. US researchers posited a new mathematical theory requiring a total overhaul of codecs – the device or programs that perform encoding and decoding on a digital data stream or signal.
For years, little was done about these predictions, until around the new millennium when a raft of new video devices started appearing in research laboratories and even on the market. Because they had less memory and battery capacity, these real-life applications, such as wireless video cameras, needed simple encoders and complex decoders.Entering the picture
But it was only in 2004 that the first serious DVC research project in Europe, called Discover, was set up by six European universities to look at the problem from a European perspective.
“Getting applications to work was not the problem,” says project coordinator Luis Torres. “For example I can already use my mobile phone for videoconferencing, but the complexity of equipment for encoding to the same quality as a conventional digital television picture was the challenge.”
Despite entering the picture later than the Americans, Discover’s scientists looked at what was state of the art and set about improving on it. Within a few months, they had developed a new codec, a sophisticated software algorithm, which Torres says was already “very competitive” with those developed in the USA.
Improvements were made to the software during the two-year project, and it has been made available on the project website free of charge to the recording community and other interested parties.Quickly seizing the lead
By the end of 2007, Discover was able to exhibit the best rate distortion performance – a measure comparing compression rate with quality – of any DVC codec in the world.
Torres is at pains to point out this advantage still does not make the codex very competitive when compared to the compression performance of current video standards. There is a long way to go before picture quality will be anything like that of television. But the groundwork has been laid for other researchers to develop the codec for commercial use.
“I am quite sure, in the future, new projects will see DVC quality catch up with current mainstream broadcast technology and become indistinguishable from it,” he says.
When this does happen, there are large numbers of existing and planned applications that could benefit from such an advance. The applications are available, but are far from properly optimised.
“With our new techniques, they could become optimal,” Torres says.
These applications include wireless video transmission and wireless surveillance networks providing a high-quality video feed in real time. Medical applications, including tiny cameras transmitting video from inside patients, are also envisaged.
Also in the works is a new multi-view image acquisition standard involving the creation of a 3D effect using several unlinked cameras videoing the same scene from different angles and positions.
Although such advances are still only future concepts, Discover has brought them a lot closer to reality.
Discover received funding from the EU's Sixth Framework Programme for research.
Ahmed ElAmin | alfa
UT professor develops algorithm to improve online mapping of disaster areas
29.11.2016 | University of Tennessee at Knoxville
New standard helps optical trackers follow moving objects precisely
23.11.2016 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy