Working With AWS, Videon Looks To Reduce The Roadblocks To Live Low Latency Streaming

As more and more organizations endeavor to use video as part of their business strategy, the capability to stream online at low latency has become as critical as ever for less demanding applications. That’s because viewers of all types now expect a positive experience similar to what they see on their living room TV set.

For Videon, a company based in State College, Penn., the goal is to make this possible at a price point—below $2,000—and simple usability that’s hard to ignore. This has led its engineers to build a semiconductor on-chip (SoC) platform that includes 4K HEVC/H.264 encoding and the processing power to add new features like speech-to-text automated captioning and interactive subchannels. It’s based on the Qualcomm SnapDragon 820 chip, used for mobile phones and other in-demand signal processing applications.

In doing so, Videon has migrated from its beginnings as an IP/service company working with the likes of Toshiba on early DVD technology in the late 1990s to a product company using semiconductors as compared to an embedded PC or common FPGA-based solution.

“In doing that pivot we’ve focused on our partnership with Qualcomm as we believe the SnapDragon technology enables radical advantages,” said Todd Erdley, founder and CEO of Videon Central, adding that the vision is to enable online streaming with the push of a single button.

The Qualcomm SnapDragon 820 chip can handle 4K HEVC/H.264 encoding and addition of new features like speech-to-text automated captioning and interactive subchannels.

The Qualcomm SnapDragon 820 chip can handle 4K HEVC/H.264 encoding and addition of new features like speech-to-text automated captioning and interactive subchannels.

“Bringing a Qualcomm solution from a mobile phone/Camera IoT focus to the video streaming industry required significant IP development within the chip,” he said. “Without Videon's position working with SoC (semiconductor on-chip) partners like Qualcomm, achieving this would have been nearly impossible. That knowledge of using SoCs also enabled Videon to develop a solution using only a small amount of the processing power within the SnapDragon chip—about 15 percent of a single core. With four cores to use on the SnapDragon 820, obviously there is a lot more processing power to add functions.”

In November, providing proof of its concept, Videon announced compatibility of its EdgeCaster encoding platform with AWS Elemental MediaStore, a cloud-based storage service optimized for media that enables the cost-effective, low-latency solution Videon was after.

Videon customers can now use AWS Elemental MediaStore as a direct ingest from the EdgeCaster H.264/HEVC video encoding platform to support ultra-low latency workflows with outputs supporting both HLS and DASH using CMAF. The company said AWS Elemental MediaStore’s support of EdgeCaster’s ingest protocols enables less than three-second worldwide latency to be achieved with standards-based, scalable, and cost-effective workflows.

Videon’s EdgeCaster is now the first third-party encoder that is compatible with AWS Elemental MediaStore.

Videon’s EdgeCaster is now the first third-party encoder that is compatible with AWS Elemental MediaStore.

“Live streaming should not come with a latency penalty as compared to traditional broadcast TV,” said Todd Erdley, founder and CEO of Videon. “EdgeCaster’s compatibility with AWS Elemental MediaStore is a strong step forward to making live streaming truly live—using standards-based, viewer-scalable, and cost-effective solutions.”

Videon’s EdgeCaster is now the first third-party encoder that is compatible with AWS Elemental MediaStore.

Key to EdgeCaster’s management of time-laden cloud functions is the intellectual property Videon developed based on Qualcomm’s SoC technology. Leveraging the processing power of the SnapDragon chip, Erdley said EdgeCaster streams at resolutions up to 4K at 30 FPS using either H.264 or H.265/HEVC compression. EdgeCaster also has the ability to provide HLS and DASH outputs using CMAF along with supporting up to six different bit rates for multi-platform video delivery. This, he said, offer users the confidence that ultra-low latency workflows with MediaStore can be efficiently deployed.

“Videon's implementation of this feature allows direct ingest by AWS MediaStore which then routes to CloudFront for worldwide distribution,” Erdley said. “Three seconds of glass-to-glass latency has been measured in scale.”

Videon demonstrated this low latency Videon/AWS workflow during online streaming coverage of the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Championship held in Japan in October, where they delivered live video to hundreds of thousands of people.

“In general, live video encoding is a crowded space in our industry, but we feel we have a solution that can help those streaming video live to add new types of services and value-adds for viewers (and advertisers) that have not been possible at this price point,” Erdley said. “We are at an inflection point with video as OTT and linear TV blend. Looking forward, we foresee OTT being an augmentation of the linear experience. Making that happen requires a low latency approach and the capability to seamlessly add more features and functionality as time goes on.”

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