By Barry Flynn, Contributing Editor
You wait ages for a new video compression technology, and then two come along at once.
Treading in the footsteps of V-Novaâ€™s PERSEUS comes the previously unknown British Columbian firm Tveon, whose CEO Scott Hayward claims its patent-pending technology can deliver 4K-resolution UHD TV at below 2Mbps, and â€˜trueâ€™ 1080p images at below 200Kbps.
If proven, the claims are astounding. At launch, PERSEUS was able to encode UHD video at 8Mbps â€“ nearly a third of the then current rate of around 21Mbps for HEVC-compressed UHD material. Thatâ€™s still around 4 times higher than Tveon is claiming.
Hayward says the company has been in stealth mode for almost three years, but elected to go public now in part because of â€œmovement from companies such as V-Nova. [â€¦] Theyâ€™re getting close and we believed it was essential for us to jump out of stealth mode to show what we have.â€
How does Tveonâ€™s compression technology work? Hayward says it arises in part from earlier research carried out by two staff members. â€œWhen they were doing their PhDs, [their research] was based on building algorithms that showed how the brain interprets what the eye is seeing and how it is perceived.â€ Tveon has developed its own version of such a â€œpersuasive-basedâ€ algorithm.
Tveon also has a patent-pending process that helps it deliver video-files more efficiently. This is based on two innovations, of which the first involves â€œa way to manipulate the delivery of a single file to various devices, via various network conditions, using our unique JIT [Just in Time] transcoder,â€ plus a new technique for processing the final file. Together, these technologies â€œallow us to manipulate the network in a way that we can deliver ultra HD and HD quality films, and video content â€“ any video content â€“ for five to six times better rates than the best ones out there today,â€ claims Hayward.
Tveonâ€™s focus will be on promoting its video compression technology as a facilitator of TV Everywhere solutions for telcos or cable companies that offer Internet television, IPTV and mobile play. â€œExamples would be AT&T and Verizon,â€ suggests Hawyard. â€œTheyâ€™ve just announced theyâ€™re going to be streaming all the TV they can, free to their mobile clients. They’re going to be looking to optimize their networks as much as possible. Initially, they launched this as a loss leader, but we believe we can actually help them become profitable over this.â€
This is because the compression rates Tveon is claiming would enable the delivery of 720p HD images to mobile phones: â€œa handset that has 3G and a poor signal, we can actually get an HD signal to that device,â€ says Hayward. This would imply a much bigger mobile customer footprint than companies like AT&T and Verizon could currently reach with their TV Everywhere offers.
Equally, â€œthis algorithm helps us to penetrate low-quality Internet customers,â€ points out Hayward. â€œYou see a lot of telcos out there today spending millions of dollars every year trying to getting a bigger pipe in the house. [â€¦] Do you really need to invest that much into a bigger pipe if we can actually make it more efficient to deliver that content? Over 70% of the content that’s delivered on the Internet today is mostly video.â€
Currently, Tveon is working on creating partnerships and obtaining independent verification of its claims. â€œWe are going to start moving forward with independent trials,â€ says Hayward. â€œWhen we tell people our bit-rates, people tend to not believe you, because it’s such a big paradigm shift compared to today. The best thing is that we had V-Nova come forward and their numbers were really good, basically four times better than anybody out there today â€“ and it allowed us to make that next leap.â€
The company expects to have its first trials in place in 30 to 60 days, â€œand then by the time you get through any legal licensing agreement with these guys, there’s another 6 months. We would hope within one year of our official launch we would have a customer.â€
All of Tveonâ€™s current funding has been private to date, funded by officers of the company and their friends and families, says Hayward.
The companyâ€™s senior development team comprises:
- Dr. Mason Macklem, who has a research background in perceptual data compression and human visual system modelling, and who worked from 2004 to 2008 at the Dalhousie Distributed Research Institute and Virtual Environment (D-DRIVE), focusing on numerical optimization, parallel and high-performance computing, and mathematical visualization;
- Adam Clarke, a pioneer in software-based media infrastructure, with nearly 20 yearsâ€™ experience developing distributed, high-availability solutions, as well as real-time video processing and embedded components, at companies including Philips Broadcast, Thomson Multimedia and Technicolor Grass Valley; and
- Herre Wiersma, MSc., who also worked at D-DRIVE on a variety of research projects, and whose interests include functional analysis, combinatorial and numerical optimization, functional programming, and data visualization.