Researchers of the Universitat Politècnica de València, in collaboration with the company SAPEC, have developed a novel technology that will facilitate the broadcasting of High Definition (HD) television services in 1080 interlaced format by using the new-generation video compression standard, HEVC.
This standard, that will shortly replace the successful H.264, is highly efficient for low bit rates applications such as live and download streaming over mobile devices, tablets, smartphones or smart TV. That means a significant reduction of download time and the storage space of the multimedia contents, and also a network traffic reduction. On the broadcasting side, the HEVC gain may be applied to provide a wider coverage, which will improve the broadcasting of HD content in environments with signal problems or portable reception inside buildings.
However, the HEVC standard does not provide the same benefits with interlaced High Definition (HD) formats, such as 1080i, which is currently the dominant format used by the worldwide digital TV platforms.
The innovative solution proposed by the team composed of the UPV and SAPEC, enables the extension of those improvements to the interlaced formats. The key lies in the image pre-analysis adapting the encoding structure dynamically prior to the HEVC compression, which can achieve a significant bandwidth savings.
The results reported by the team of the UPV and SAPEC, prove that this solution can reduce the bandwidth used currently by values over 60% for highly complex sequences, such as sports event sequences. This enables the broadcasting of HD content in interlaced 1080 format, even using a lower capacity than the currently used by SD television channels.
"The solution that we have developed permits efficient use of the video coding standard, HEVC, for the 1080 interlaced HD format, that can be used by content exchange between producers and broadcasters, as well as in the broadcasting of content through digital terrestrial (DTT), satellite or Internet TV platforms. This efficiency enhancement may universalize HD in platforms such as DTT, where the lack of spectrum hinders its implementation," explains Damián Ruiz, researcher at the Mobile Communications Group of the Institute of Telecommunications and Multimedia Applications (iTEAM) of the Universitat Politècnica de València.
"The implementation of this technology will bring the audience significant benefits, since they will enjoy better quality audiovisual content, as it will be broadcast with a bit depth of 10-bits instead of the 8-bits used currently by H.264 standard. This will provide better visual experience with greater sharpness of content and higher colors gamut, suitable for the capacities of new-generation screens. In addition, the bandwidth reduction in HD content will allow broadcasters to increase the number of TV services in a digital multiplex, increasing the range of content available to the user," adds Jordi Joan Giménez, researcher at the Mobile Communications Group of the iTEAM-UPV.
The researchers of the UPV and SAPEC presented this new technology in the last edition of the Annual SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers) Technical Conference and Exhibition 2014, held in Hollywood (USA).
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