Harmonic Shows VR Demo with Native UHD Resolution at IBC2016

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At IBC2016, Harmonic is showing one of the industry's first native UHD virtual reality demonstrations, in collaboration with Dutch research institute TNO. Powered by TNO's HEVC tiling system, which makes efficient distribution of VR content possible at very high quality over existing CDNs, the demo’s set-up results in an immersive VR experience on head-mounted devices with 10 times the video resolution of commercially deployed VR services, at comparable bitrates over modern networks using existing devices.

Bart Spriester, senior vice president, video products at Harmonic VR recognizes the significance of VR for content providers, broadcasters and pay-TV operators, especially for live sports. “But the video quality has to be exceptional in order to provide a fully immersive experience," he said. "We believe HEVC tiling is the most promising technique for delivering high video quality on head-mounted VR devices. By working with TNO on this demonstration, we aim to bring to life outstanding VR experiences with native UHD resolution."

Harmonic tno Native UHD VR

TNO’s approach is based on the idea that current VR streaming systems transport the entire 360 video to the head-mounted device with low perceptual quality, spoiling the immersive experience, while streaming it in high quality requires an enormous amount of bandwidth. TNO’s tiled VR streaming system solves this by only streaming the parts of the image that are in a user’s actual viewport – a fraction of the total video – and by supporting extremely fast transport of updates across the network when a user changes viewing direction.

The system uses standard HEVC encoders and decoders, and HTTP streaming, making it suitable for affordable on-demand and live services over existing CDNs. According to TNO, tiled VR streaming can deliver a completely immersive experience at a fraction of the bitrate that current systems require. Requiring only a single decoder, Tiled VR streaming works with all types of display device, including head-mounted displays, phones and tablets. Through the use of a layered approach and a low latency protocol, users will see video playing wherever they look, even when they rapidly turn their head.

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Harmonic will also show its VR developments alongside Viaccess-Orca through a new multiview app. Using space-related content from Harmonic on a Samsung Gear VR headset and through Viaccess-Orca's Connected Sentinel Player, the demo will simulate a live VR environment by supplying synchronized, multiple perspectives for a richer VR experience. www.viaccess-orca.com

During the IBC2016 conference, Thierry Fautier, vice president, video strategy at Harmonic, will share his expertise on VR technology as a presenter at a conference session dedicated to new ideas in VR and 360-degree immersive media. His paper presentation is titled ‘VR Video Ecosystem for Live Distribution’.

Harmonic is participating in the DVB Commercial Module Study Mission Group report on VR. The group's main objective is to investigate the commercial case for VR systems. Based on their findings, the DVB will then offer insight into commercial requirements, and consequent technical specifications, for distribution of VR content over broadcast or IP networks. Results of the study are expected to be published after IBC2016.    www.harmonicinc.com