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Vindral CEO Daniel Alinder Talks Latency, Sync, 8K, and Vindral

Tim Siglin, Founding Executive Director, Help Me Stream Research Foundation, and Contributing Editor, Streaming Media, sits down with Daniel Alinder, Chief Executive Officer, Vindral, to discuss latency, sync, 8K, and Vindral in this Streaming Media East 2023 interview.

“The last interview I did with you was at the booth of a company that does ASICs or DSPs on PCI boards, and you were looking to use some of their solutions to do low latency AV1. How has that progressed?” Siglin asks Alinder.

“It went very well,” Alinder says. “We partnered up with NETINT at that time, and what we've seen since then is a lot more interest than we were anticipating for such a new thing. We even submitted it to a competition for the world's first AV1 low-latency solution. We didn't expect a lot of commercial interest just yet since AV1 is still picking up, but it's been a lot more than we thought.”

The Two Aspects of Synchronization and Latency: Video and Audio

Siglin asks Alinder about the possible need for a correlation between synchronization and latency.

Alinder says that there are actually two aspects of synchronization: video and audio. “Our system was built on the requirement to keep all viewers in sync,” he says. “So what we aim to do is always be within a hundred milliseconds of each other. We do video, it's a live streaming service, but if you look at the audio aspect, that's actually where synchronization is even more sensitive. If I hear audio and it's out of sync, I notice that a lot more than if I see video.”

“Very true,” Siglin says. “I've worked with companies in the audio space, and they're concerned down to just a couple of word clocks…if it's a 48,000 kilohertz, meaning at 48,000 times a second, they're looking at less than three or four milliseconds before it’s noticeable. And as a matter of fact, having worked with them on solutions where we're trying to do musicians in different cities, what we found is the transport itself ignoring what was added on the latency, say at the cards, the transport itself had to stay under 20 milliseconds because otherwise the musicians, especially professional musicians, would feel like they were half a beat out. And that was very difficult. Now, for the average consumer, that doesn't really matter, but even the average consumer picks up the perceptibility of a non-stereo field between two devices.”

Synchronization Needs for Different Clients and the Vindral Streaming Solution

Alinder breaks down the various synchronization needs for different types of clients. “Many clients have different requirements. We have auction houses that want to keep things under a second glass-to-glass, but you also have others that want to synchronize with broadcast, like television. So that's the other type of synchronization. And that's where it really overlaps with latency. Because it is configurable latency, that's one of the main things that we've built into Vindral.”

“As we go through our methodologies for testing claims in the industry, that's one of the things that we actually will recommend,” Siglin says. “So say, for instance, we want to look at multiple devices, one on a cellular network and one is a connected TV with ethernet, maybe a connected TV with Wi-Fi, we're launching them all against the same stream…then looking to see how long it takes for them to come back into synchronization because it's very important whether you're delaying it for a second or half a second or three and a half seconds to the broadcast latency, that when the experience is in a constrained space, you see those images in sync as they go forward. Now, it seems counterintuitive to say, ‘Let's add some latency into it to get to that synchronization’, but it sounds like that's exactly what you said.”

“It’s their business requirement, or their user experience requirement,” Alinder says. “You mentioned that you're testing things over longer [times], and I'm really happy you say that. And that was actually another talk that we had here at Streaming Media East. Our CTO, Per Mafrost…basically, his message to prospective clients that are looking into different live streaming solutions is, ‘Please, let it run…put us under more pressure.’ Use it through a network shaper. Look how it performs under load VPNs…and different locations…it always needs to retain the requirements that we have [for] guaranteed latency.  Quality evaluation, it's super important…not just like in a perfect network or in a lab.”

What’s Next For Vindral?

Siglin asks Alinder what’s next for Vindral. “You’ve done this 4K AV1,” he says. “Do you expand on that? What happens?”

Alinder says that 8K is the next focus for Vindral. “We're moving clients from 1080p to 4K, and 8K is going to be something that we want to be in on early,” he says. “We are, of course, also looking at higher frame rates. For example…sports, but also even more so in gaming.”

“Very high frame rates,” Siglin says.

“The players and the fans," Alinder says, "they're used to seeing this in 144 or 265. I'm not going to say we're going to do 265 because that's going to have to be decoded as well, but we want to see how far we can [go]…”

“It's interesting that you mentioned the higher frame rates,” Siglin says. “One of the data points we're seeing too, and especially because we also deal with older gear that's donated for our charitable mission…we're actually seeing an uptick in 720p60 or 50, in Europe, mainly, because there were devices that while they were capable of H264 1080p, they were sort of limited to 1080p 24, 25, 30 to elongate the life of those things dropping back to 720p60, which is essentially the same data rate as 1080p 25, and allowing them to experience that football match American or European type of thing.”

Learn more about latency and synchronization at Streaming Media Connect 2023.

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