Video over IP

HEVC – Video Conferencing & Video Surveillance industry should implement this video compression standard

HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) is the latest Video Compression standard that is being developed by JCT-VC (Joint Collaborative Team – Video Coding) and is expected to be completed and available by January 2013. Like the H.264-AVC, the HEVC is also a standard and can be licensed across products, irrespective of the vendor.

The H.264 or H.264-AVC has been extremely successful in both Video Conference equipments and Video Surveillance equipments. It sort of paved the way for HD Video Conferencing to become a reality.

But we should remember that in spite of a solid video compression standard like H.264, working with High Definition Video is still a challenge as it occupies a lot of bandwidth. Hence, companies either had to have large fat bandwidth pipes or had to restrict the number of HD Video sessions on the network. I am not sure how successful HD video was in the Video Surveillance industry, as it requires multiple streams of HD video to be moving across the network more frequently. You can imagine it’s effect on bandwidth/network.

The new Video Compression Standard – HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) is being developed mainly for the digital broadcasting industry requirements. One of the major advantages of the HEVC is, it can provide an equivalent image quality (when compared to the H.264-AVC) at half the bit-rate (bandwidth). As you can imagine, this reduces the bandwidth requirements for IP video drastically and enables more IP video sessions on the network. Since HEVC is a standard, multi-vendor deployments will still be able to take advantage of this new video compression standard.

Instead of trying to implement various flavors of non-standard video compression technologies, the Video Conferencing industry should come back to standards-based implementation. Locking customers using proprietary technologies may seem to work in the short-term, but it is going to hurt your company/brand on the long-term. VOIP/IP Telephony companies have realized this after their proprietary voice protocols failed and the industry unanimously adopted SIP. Does the Video Conferencing industry, which was already standardized (with H.264) and had set the right example earlier, now want to realize the same thing after losing customer confidence? Stick to standards people.

It’s very important for the Video Surveillance industry to implement more efficient IP Video Compression techniques. Video Surveillance happens continuously at many places and a standard like HEVC will encourage more customers to switch over to IP Video Surveillance.

Since HEVC provides better performance, the hardware/processing requirements might be higher when compared to H.264 systems. But then, the cost of better processors has been coming down and their capacity has been following the Moore’s law. The new standard has come almost ten years after H.264 was released! So, I guess this should not be a big issue.

In the Video broadcasting industry, they are talking about HEVC supporting 4K HDTV, which occupies four times the bandwidth when compared to the standard HDTV! Surely, the requirements of the Video Conferencing/Video Surveillance industries should be less strenuous than that. Let us hope that the new standard is implemented enthusiastically.

Reference/Further Information: High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) – The next stage in compression technology, by Ericsson.

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