Imagine being able to communicate with video images anywhere in the world. Regardless of the connection you still have a good image of the person you are communicating with. Ulrik Söderström from Digital Media Lab, Umea university in Sweden, has developed a technique that enables this.
This is a technique that can be used by reporters in remote locations to give live reports and by everyday people, regardless of their location. The technique is so powerful that it is possible to use video with HDTV-quality and transmit it over the regular cellular phone network.
The equipment that is used today is a backpack with a video camera mounted on a bar in front of the person wearing it or a small camera mounted on a helmet.
"In the near future the equipment can be so small that it is like using a hands-free, but in this case for video communication," says Ulrik Söderström.
His research regards video and how you can compress the images so that they can be transmitted over any kind of connection while still maintaining high image quality.
"A large part of our communication is non-verbal, for example the facial expressions and body language of the person we are communicating with. When we can’t se each other a large part of what we are mediating is lost," explains Ulrik Söderström.
His technique makes use of video areas that are classified as important, for example the mouth and the eyes. From changes in these areas and by using a model of the person’s face Ulrik can reconstruct a movie in a way that the compressed video needs very little space and at the same time retains high image quality.
This means that the sender isn’t dependent on fast connections and can use any kind of network for producing good image quality. Video can be transmitted at as low bitrate as 5 kbps, which can be compared to audio via the regular cellular phone network that needs almost 10 kbps.
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