Broadcasters and technologists’ report on VR

Wednesday, 03 May 2017

DVB (Digital Video Broadcasting) is an industry-led consortium of the world’s leading digital TV and technology companies, such as manufacturers, software developers, network operators, broadcasters and regulators, committed to designing open technical standards for the delivery of digital TV and other broadcast services.

Late last year DVB commissioned a report (PDF) to see whether they should set up a group to define a standard for VR to be used with digital broadcasting. Here are some quotes:

We first look at the market segmentation between the tethered devices (Oculus Rift, HTC Vive), game platforms (Sony PS VR) and untethered devices (Gear VR, Consumer HMD, Cardboard). We predict that untethered devices will be 10x the volume of tethered ones, that will appeal more to gamers ‘community.

 

We assess the size of the market on the device side considering different market researches available on a 2020 horizon. A medium scenario shows $20B revenue in 2020. This is followed by a market sizing of the VR Video services on a 2020 horizon.

We estimate that by 2020, VR will generate between $1.0B and $1.4B revenue, the largest application being Live sports. VR Theme Parks & VR arcade games will be a lucrative business for both games and video and will, just as GPS was democratized with car rental, help evangelize VR.

 

  • Principal bodies involved in VR standardisation include ISO, IEC JTG MPEG, JPEG, and DASH IF, and possibly ITU-T and ITU-F in future. It is not clear how their activities overlap which may become the dominant standards for VR.
  • MPEG are developing an Omni-directional Media Applications Format (OMAF) standard, as well as a Media Orchestration (MORE) interface for video stitching and encoding, and are considering Tiling mechanisms for region of interest encoding (using a dual layer SHVC approach).
  • JPEG are developing various file formats including: JPEG XT (omni- directional photographs), JPEG XS (low-latency compression format for VR), and JPEG PLENO (lightfield video format).
  • 3GGP are looking at VR standardisation for wireless mobile services, considering delivery of VR video content through current as well as 5G systems.
  • DASH-IF are planning test and trials of VR delivery using DASH technology
  • A VR Industry Forum is currently established to promote VR: which may develop guidelines, encourage use of common formats, and share experiences with VR.

 

  • It is likely the main commercial driver for tethered VR will come from gaming, whereas the main driver for untethered VR will come from immersive video for sports and music events. The demand for content will depend on its availability and quality of experience.
  • DVB should cooperate with standards bodies working in VR, as members will need to adopt common specifications for stream delivery of VR content. Requirements are needed for the minimum technical quality of VR video and audio, particularly to reduce cybersickness. Requirements should be completed within two years (mid-2018)
  • In terms of quality of service, consideration must be given to the desired frame rate, field of view, visual acuity, degree of visual and audio immersion, head tracking latency, and visual overlays
  • VR audio will need additional support, both for broadcast and broadband transmission.
  • In the short term support is needed to avoid a multiplicity of groups and proprietary panoramic 3 degrees of freedom VR video systems, and considering requirements key parameters such as frame rate, resolution, use with tablets etc. For example, Sky’s provisionally specifies the following VR formats: video: 2-4K resolution, H.264, 25-50 FPS, 20-60 mbps bitrate, audio: stereo or ambisonic.
  • For the longer term it is recommended to continue the study mission to follow developments such as panoramic 6 degrees of freedom VR, augmented reality, and mixed reality.
  • Commercial requirements group would begin their work the questionnaire to DVB members. In addition, the group may consider developing a DVB VR garage, where VR technologies could be neutrally badged under DVB.