Monday, October 14, 2019

Happy World Standards Day 2019 - Video Standards Create a Global Stage

Today on October 14, we celebrate the World Standards Day, "the day honors the efforts of the thousands of experts who develop voluntary standards within standards development organizations" (SDOs). Many SDOs such as W3CIETF, ITU, ISO (incl. JPEG and MPEG) celebrate this with individual statements, highlighting the importance of standards and interoperability in today's information and communication technology landscape. Interestingly, this year's topic for the World Standards Day within ISO is about video standards creating a global stage. Similarly, national bodies of ISO provide such statements within their own country, e.g., the A.S.I. statement can be found here (note: in German). I have also blogged about the World Standards Day in 2017.

HEVC Emmy located at ITU-T, Geneva, CH (Oct'19).
The numbers for video content created, distributed (incl. delivery, streaming, ...), processed, consumed, etc. increases tremendously and, actually, more than 60 percent of today's world-wide internet traffic is attributed to video streaming. For example, almost 700,000 hours of video are watched on Netflix and 4.5 million videos are viewed on YouTube within a single internet minute in 2019. Videos are typically compressed (or encoded) prior to distribution and are decompressed (or decoded) before rendering on potentially a plethora of heterogeneous devices. Such codecs (portmanteau of coder-decoder) are subject to standardization and with AVC and HEVC (jointly developed by ISO/IEC MPEG and ITU-T VCEG) we have two successful standards which even have been honored with Primetime Engineering Emmy Awards (see one of them in the picture).

Within Austria, Bitmovin has been awarded with the Living Standards Award in 2017 for its contribution to the MPEG-DASH standard, which enables dynamic adaptive streaming over HTTP. This standard -- the 4th edition is becoming available very soon -- is now heavily deployed and has been adopted within products and services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, etc.

Standardization can be both source for and sink of research activities, i.e., development of efficient algorithms conforming to existing standards or research efforts leading to new standards. One example of such research efforts just recently started at the Institute of Information Technology (ITEC) at Alpen-Adria-Universit√§t Klagenfurt (AAU) as part of the ATHENA (AdapTive Streaming over HTTP and Emerging Networked MultimediA Services) project. The aim of this project is to research and develop novel paradigms, approaches, (prototype) tools and evaluation results for the phases (i) multimedia content provisioning (video coding), (ii) content delivery (video networking), (iii) content consumption (player) in the media delivery chain, and (iv) end-to-end aspects, with a focus on, but not being limited to, HTTP Adaptive Streaming (HAS).

The SDO behind these standards is MPEG (officially ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 29/WG 11), which has a proven track record of producing very successful standards (not only those mentioned as examples above) and its future is currently discussed within its parent body (SC 29). A possible MPEG future is described here, which suggests upgrading the current SC 29 working groups to sub-committees (SCs), specifically to spin-off a new SC that basically covers MPEG while the remaining WG (JPEG) arises within SC 29. This proposal of MPEG and JPEG as SC is partially motivated by the fact that both WGs work on a large set of standardization projects, actually developed by its subgroups. Thus, elevating both WGs (JPEG & MPEG) to SC level would only reflect the current status quo but would also preserve two important brands for both academia and industry. Further details can be found at http://mpegfuture.org/.

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