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Video: What Are the Challenges of Live VR?

With all of the opportunities VR opens up for content creators and sports and entertainment broadcasters to innovate, reach new markets, and leverage new technologies for 360-degree live viewing, it also brings a host of new challenges as they try to deliver immersive viewing experiences to a broad base of users. In this excerpt from her presentation at Content Delivery Summit 2016, Frost & Sullivan analyst Avni Rambhia discusses those challenges and how they will affect companies as they take the VR plunge in these early days of VR technology's adoption in the online video space.

Watch Avni Rambhia's complete presentation, VR and the Video Ecosystem, at Content Delivery Summit 2016.

Here is a complete transcript of Avni Rambhia's remarks in the clip above:

Avni Rambhia: What are the challenges of VR, and what are the particular challenges for live VR?

The first is latency. 10 to 15 seconds for a live broadcast is considered normal, if you have up to 30 seconds that's probably fine. When you're talking about VR video you're talking about 4 to 6 times the base resolution that you are transmitting. If you thought that Ultra HD was a problem, think about how you're going to do 6K or 8K for an HD experience of live VR. You have to take all of that, put it into context, think about how you're going to handle the latency.

The latency is also with the client experience. As you move your head, if the video doesn't move with it or if it stutters, you're going to make motion sickness and the headsets come off. Latency matters, it matters at the origin, it matters during transport, it matters during processing, and it matters during rendering.

Then there's the reach. If you're going to see the bottom line revenues that we're talking about you can't be sending to the 0.5% that are 4K ready today. You have to be able to send this to everybody that is already streaming today. How do you maintain the low latency and high quality while getting the reach again? You're going to have to be very smart about how you're processing and transmitting the video.

Finally, there's quality. When we talk about quality with VR it's about frame rate, it's about resolution, it's about agility, how quickly you can react. Very often the notions of quality and bandwidth are at odds with each other. That trade off is much, much worse for VR--again, because of the sheer number of pixels that you need to send across if you're really going to have an immersive experience. We've seen some solutions that try to bring ABR to bear on the problem of VR by breaking it up into single-second chunks. As you switch from one chunk to another, if your video pauses you're going to have a problem. If the the illumination is different, if you have a line artifact, all those things matter. You have to think of a smooth experience, prefetch on either side of the field of view.

Again lots of little, little things come to bear. At a high level VR is there, the numbers are solid. The devil's very much in the details. It's early days, so people are figuring how to do it, but as you plan your own scenarios or as you are trying to innovate to meet the needs of VR. these are where a lot of the challenges are going to start to come.

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