& cplSiteName &

YouTube Packs VR Mesh Key in 4KB Payload

Mari Silbey
3/20/2017
50%
50%

How do you best display a 360-degree video file on a rectangular video screen? YouTube has an answer.

Among the company's efforts to optimize the virtual reality experience, YouTube Inc. has introduced a new technology called Projection Independent Mesh. The tool provides a model for how a VR video should be projected onto a viewer's display. Not only does it map pixels to simulate a 360-degree environment, but it also tries to map them in the best way possible to overcome the limitations of how much information can practically be transmitted on today's infrastructure and played back on today's devices.

To start, YouTube has tested different ways of projecting VR video. In a blog post, the company outlines three different approaches: equirectangular projection, cubemap projection and equi-angular cubemap projection, or EAC. In its testing, YouTube has found that EAC projection typically provides the best results. Instead of placing pixels on a rectangular display according to their equal distance on a cube display, EAC places pixels on a rectangular display based on the angular change occurring in the cube environment.

According to YouTube, EAC projection results in higher quality playback across a viewer's entire screen. In contrast, equirectangular projection and cubemap projection tend to maximize quality in certain areas, but still create a lesser-quality experience in some of the regions to which the human eye gravitates the most -- i.e. the middle of a screen.

This equirectangular projection saturation map (source: YouTube) shows how the ratio of video pixel density to display pixel density 
(a proxy for quality) is highest at the top and bottom of the screen. From low to high, color coding goes from red (lowest ratio) to orange, yellow, green and then to blue.
This equirectangular projection saturation map (source: YouTube) shows how the ratio of video pixel density to display pixel density (a proxy for quality) is highest at the top and bottom of the screen. From low to high, color coding goes from red (lowest ratio) to orange, yellow, green and then to blue.

This equi-angular cubemap (EAC- Source: YouTube), shows how picture quality is more consistent across the entire viewing screen.
This equi-angular cubemap (EAC- Source: YouTube), shows how picture quality is more consistent across the entire viewing screen.

That's not the end of the story, however. YouTube hasn't just tested different methods of projection; it's also created a guide or key for how other companies can implement EAC automatically when transmitting their VR video. This is the Projection Independent Mesh, and YouTube has managed to condense these instructions for automatic EAC projection into a tiny 4KB attachment file.


Want to learn more about what's next in the pay-TV business? Sign up now for Light Reading's Cable Next-Gen Technologies & Strategies event on March 21-22, at the Curtis Hotel in downtown Denver.


Why is all of this important? For multiple reasons.

First, consider the work that's being done right now on 4K Ultra HD video. The industry is hammering away at the UHD standard and trying to integrate technologies like high dynamic range and wide color gamut to improve luminance and color depth. As much as the industry had hoped that simply increasing picture resolution would give consumers a reason to buy new TVs, what companies have found is that the number of pixels displayed may not be as important to picture quality as how those pixels are projected and rendered. (See 4K TV Not Ready for OTA Broadcast and Video Industry Finally Defines 4K.)

The same principle applies in virtual reality. And YouTube is working on the balancing act of delivering enough data to power a high-quality VR experience while also optimizing how that data is presented -- all while keeping limited bandwidth and storage resources in mind.

Second, YouTube and its parent company Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) are not among the historical leaders in video technology. They've come a long way in a short time, including developing the VP9 video compression scheme, which Google introduced in 2012, and now contributing to the WebM Project to create a next-generation open video codec. (See New Alliance Aims at Royalty-Free Video Codec.)

However, there are other vendors in the business that have been optimizing video for decades and decades, and an entire vendor community built around video delivery for the traditional television medium.

YouTube's progress in VR is one indication that the industry is shifting away from its historical models. Arguably, it's also one of the many warning signs that today's TV technology vendors, and video service providers, need to be prepared for a very different video future.

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
danielcawrey
50%
50%
danielcawrey,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/20/2017 | 3:17:47 PM
Major
YouTube could become a major player in VR. 

Virtual reality still needs to grow up, and I think existing platforms could really utilize YouTube for content. There's just not enough out there - maybe YouTube could help with that?
From The Founder
Kicking off BCE 2017, Light Reading founder Steve Saunders lays blame for NFV's slow ramp-up and urges telecom to return to old-fashioned standards building and interoperability.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
The Overall Objective Is to Win the Game

6|26|17   |     |   (0) comments


SCTE•ISBE's Chris Bastian discusses Energy 2020's success to date and the importance of a flexible approach that allows for changes in specific strategies in order to reach significant milestones.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink: Let's Get Past SD-WAN Hype

6|23|17   |   04:02   |   (0) comments


Technology becomes a "shiny object" unless it's properly focused on solving business needs for enterprise customers, says Bill Grubbs, network solutions architect for CenturyLink. He explains to Light Reading why SD-WAN deployments have to be tailored to specific needs – and more.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Infinera's Sales Director Paints Tech's Big Picture

6|21|17   |   4:14   |   (1) comment


Shannon Williams, Infinera's director of sales, shares how she achieves work's many balancing acts -- between her role and the broader company, today and tomorrow's tech and more.
LRTV Custom TV
SD-WAN Innovation & Trends

6|20|17   |     |   (0) comments


Versa CEO Kelly Ahuja discusses with Carol Wilson the current status and trends in the SD-WAN market, Versa's innovation around building a software platform with broad contextualization, and the advantages that startups can bring to the SD-WAN market.
LRTV Interviews
Ovum's Dario Talmesio on 5G in Europe

6|20|17   |   02:16   |   (0) comments


At 5G World 2017, Dario Talmesio, principal analyst and practice leader on Ovum's fixed and mobile telecoms European team, explains the emerging trends amongst European operators as they prepare for 5G.
LRTV Custom TV
Putting Power on a Pedestal

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


ARRIS's John Ulm says a major accomplishment of SCTE•ISBE's Energy 2020 program is increased focus on power cost and consumption, including inclusion of energy requirements in operators' RFPs and RFIs.
LRTV Custom TV
Gigabit Access: The Last-Mile Pipe for All Future Services

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


A Gigabit access platform being deployed today must be able to deliver all types of services to an increasing number of devices. A non-blocking architecture is necessary to support the ever-increasing growth in bandwidth demand. The Huawei Gigabit access solution is based on a distributed design that is fully scalable to deliver a unprecedented performance.
LRTV Custom TV
Key Factors to Successfully Deploy an SD-WAN Service

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


As service providers transition their SD-WAN solution from trials and limited deployments into production at large scale, there are important considerations to successfully operationalize these solutions and realize their full potential, without adding complexity, introducing uncertainty or disrupting current business operations. Sunil Khandekar, CEO and Founder ...
LRTV Custom TV
IoT Solutions: Rational Exuberance

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


IoT solutions are morphing from hype into viable business opportunities. Huawei has the platform and ecosystem support to help carriers successfully address new business opportunities in the IoT space.
LRTV Custom TV
Realizing ICN as a Network Slice for Mobile Data Distribution

6|19|17   |     |   (1) comment


Network slicing in 5G allows the potential introduction of new network architectures such as Information-centric Networks (ICN) as a slice, managed over a shared pool of compute, storage and bandwidth resource. Services over an ICN slice can benefit from many architectural features such as Name Based Networking, Security, Multicasting, Multi-homing, Mobility, ...
LRTV Interviews
Ovum's Mike Roberts on 5G Uptake

6|19|17   |   04:08   |   (0) comments


Mike Roberts, research director for Ovum's service provider markets group, explains why he has boosted his 5G subscriptions forecast.
LRTV Interviews
AT&T's Hubbard on Intersection of SD-WAN & MPLS

6|15|17   |     |   (0) comments


Rick Hubbard, SVP of Network Product Management for AT&T Business Solutions, discusses how AT&T's approach to SD-WAN fits in with its overall virtualization strategy, explains how SD-WAN can improve enterprise customers' use of the cloud and addresses the intersection of SD-WAN and MPLS.
Upcoming Live Events
October 18, 2017, Colorado Convention Center - Denver, CO
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
No Imagination: UK Chip Biz Goes Up for Sale
Iain Morris, News Editor, 6/22/2017
Does AT&T Deserve Time Warner?
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 6/23/2017
Netflix's Lesson in Culture Expectation Settings
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 6/21/2017
Kalanick Steps Down as Uber CEO
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 6/21/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Following a recent board meeting, the New IP Agency (NIA) has a new strategy to help accelerate the adoption of NFV capabilities, explains the Agency's Founder and Secretary, Steve Saunders.
One of the nice bits of my job (other than the teeny tiny salary, obviously) is that I get to pick and choose who I interview for this slot on the Light Reading home ...
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.