SEQUOIA, an R&D project partnership between iSIZE, the BBC R&D and Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), has been awarded £700k from Innovate UK following a competitive grant submission, and a rigorous review and award process (<5% acceptance rate). Innovate UK is part of UKRI, the national funding agency investing in science and industrial research in the UK.
SEQUOIA looks at the way new technology, including artificial intelligence, can discontinuously change the way we distribute video content. It is a response to the pressing need for video streaming to become more sustainable. It addresses the challenges faced by the media sector in tackling the surge in online media consumption, which is posing unprecedented stress on network infrastructures worldwide. As well as imposing content delivery bottlenecks, this massive load on the internet infrastructure affects how content can be distributed efficiently to larger numbers of viewers, and contributes to its environmental footprint.
The project recognises that innovation in video streaming is urgently required. It is looking at perceptual optimization of video streams as a way of making significant reductions in bandwidth required for equal quality. This is at the heart of iSIZE’s work, and the company has built extensive IP and expertise in this domain. This will be combined with innovations in encoding technologies and optimization, which is pursued by BBC R&D and QMUL.
“The problems facing video streaming are real and represent significant environmental issues,” said Sergio Grce, CEO of iSIZE. “The increase in video encoding complexity is outpacing Moore’s Law’, and some respected researchers suggest that the carbon footprint of the internet is greater than that of aviation. So this is an issue that must be addressed.’’
“We are very excited to be working with the BBC and QMUL on this project,” he added. “SEQUOIA brings us together with BBC and QMUL to advance the video streaming, incorporating our expertise in deep perceptual optimization and the latest cutting-edge AI innovation. This project will deliver significant financial and environmental improvements for video streaming.”
Disruptive innovation for video streaming is urgently needed: new pre and post processing, encoding and delivery tools that are device-aware and cross-codec compatible. This is vital to meet the growing demand for online video, reducing processing, energy and storage requirements.
This project will make an impact at every stage in the media distribution chain, demonstrating its results on operational and portable encoder designs, applicable both to video on demand and live streams. This will lead to benefits for the whole sector, demonstrating technology to enable sustainable distribution of Ultra High Definition content, while limiting the impact of video on internet traffic and reducing distribution costs. Extending beyond the commercial benefits, project outcomes will be devised to support environmentally conscious solutions by monitoring and proactively reducing energy consumption at all stages within the media value chain.
The partnership of iSIZE, BBC and QMUL brings unique expert know-how and expertise on AI, video coding standardisation, adaptive video pre/post processing and streaming, perceptual optimizations and interoperable software architectures to collaboratively work towards these challenging objectives.