Thursday, January 22, 2009

Blu-ray sales increasing

Quoting from High-Def Digest:

The Blu-ray Disc player industry is seeing increased sales over the past two and a half years. Since the technology was unveiled, 10.7 million players (including Playstation 3s) have been shipped to retail stores across the US. The 2008 sales have increased three-fold compared to 2007 estimates.

According to Adams Media Research, the household penetration for Blu-ray Disc players is 8% after slightly less than three years on the market. Compare this to the three-year estimates of about 3% for Color TV, 2% for CDs and 4% for DVDs, and Blu-rays are looking to be a rapidly growing industry.

Software sales for Blu-ray Disc players are increasing as well. This past October was the first month to hit 2 million disc sales, which increased to 8 million by December. At the close of 2008, disc sales stood at 24.09 million for the year, bringing the total since launch to over 30 million sales.

Future Blu-ray Disc players are using the “BD-Live” technology which allows users to interact with the player over a broadband network. And there will be a significant addition to the 53 disc titles which already allow a digital copy to be downloaded and viewed on mobile devices. Sales of Blu-ray Disc players are projected to increase two to three fold in the next year, according to Adams Media Research.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Advanced graphics capabilities in HDTV

On January 7th, STMicroelectronics announced its plans for its next generation of Set-Top Boxes and digital HDTV application platforms with the licensing of the ARM Mali-400 MP multicore scalable graphics processing unit (GPU) technology to meet the growing demand for superior graphics on increasing screen resolutions in home entertainment products.

Laurent Remont, Advanced System Architecture Director, Home Entertainment and Displays Group, STMicroelectronics, said: As a long-time leader in the set-top-box and digital TV market, ST has continuously been at the forefront in providing broadcasters and consumer OEMs the right technologies at the right time for the development of world-class home entertainment products. HDTV is now the standard in this market, and 3D graphics technology at high-definition resolution has an increasingly important role to play in further heightening the entertainment experience for consumers.

EURASIP Journal on 3DTV

The Journal on Advances in Signal Processing of the European Association for Signal Processing (EURASIP) has recently published a special issue entitled "3DTV: Capture, Transmission, and Display of 3D Video", which can be accessed by following this link.

This is the table of contents:All the papers can be downloaded in PDF format free of charge.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

SDXC offers 2 TB storage space

The next-generation SDXC (eXtended Capacity) memory card specification, announced at the 2009 International CES, dramatically improves consumers’ digital lifestyles by providing the portable storage and speed needed to store weeks of high-definition video, years of photo collections and months of music to mobile phones, cameras and camcorders, and other consumer electronic devices.

The new SDXC specification provides up to 2 terabytes storage capacity and accelerates SD interface read/write speeds to 104 megabytes per second this year, with a road map to 300 megabytes per second.

The SDXC specification, developed by the SD Association, leapfrogs memory card interface speeds while retaining the world-leading SD interface. Specifications for the open standard will be released in the first quarter of 2009. See the press release (pdf).

Shazzle now available

Shazzle LLC, the creator of a new privatized group file sharing program that uses P2P technology to fuse file sharing, real-time chat, internet browsing, and "unprecedented community features", announce the first release of the Shazzle application.

The authors declare: Shazzle consolidates features such as: peer-to-peer file sharing, live chat, web browsing and social networking functionality to create an unparalleled community experience. Shazzle's simple user interface and multifaceted utility can be applied to business, e-commerce, e-learning, old and new interpersonal connections, and much more. For additional information, go to

By the way, the idea to combine P2P file sharing with social networking is not so new: you may be interested to have a look at Tribler, an application developed some time ago by the Delft University of Technology, which is now the core of the on-going EU funded project P2P-Next.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Master Thesis Projects 2009

I have currently three Master Thesis projects available: if you are a dynamic and creative person, motivated in working on challenging engineering projects in a top-level R&D group within a high-technology industry, you are welcome: do not hesitate to contact me!

Visual quality optimization techniques applied to rate-control in SVC
In digital video coding, the main aim of bit-rate control is to provide a bit-stream with a final data rate as close as possible to a predefined target one, by simply adapting the quantization parameter to the video sequence complexity. However, in case of low bit-rate applications or highly complex sequences, the bit-rate control would impose a too high quantization step thus inevitably compromising the visual quality of coded pictures. In the depicted case, it is convenient the application of a Frame Skipping strategy. The Frame Skipping technique adaptively skips whole coded pictures, so the encoder could allocate more bits for other frames so as to perform higher image quality and reduce rate criticisms without losing bits. Moreover, the human visual system is particularly sensitive to quantization artefacts and frame rate discontinuity, therefore skipping frame selection must balance quality and rate to avoid visual fluctuation of image quality. This thesis work implies:
  • Study and documentation on frame skipping techniques in literature.
  • Development and integration of the Frame Skipping technique into the STMicroelectronics proprietary Constant Bit-Rate (CBR) control algorithm. The STMicroelectronics encoder is a C++ software model of the new MPEG SVC (Scalable Video Coding) standard. The implementation will be carried out using GNU C/C++ program languages and will be executed in a general purpose computational platform (PC).
  • Finally, extensive objective and subjective evaluations must be done to test the algorithm performance.
Streaming of scalable video bitstreams on variable bandwidth channels
The new video coding standard ITU-T/MPEG Scalable Video Coding (SVC) extends the H.264/AVC functionalities with new effective improvements particularly devoted to layered coding in terms of temporal, spatial and quality scalability. A scalable bitstream can contain different representations of the same video sequence, with different temporal or spatial resolutions and quality granularity, all encapsulated according to the standard coding hierarchy. In particular, with the MGS (Medium Grain Scalability) each picture can have multiple quality representations, each one with an increasing associated bit-rate, thus providing the possibility to select different compromises between quality and rate. In this way, SVC enables the transmission and decoding of partial bit-streams to adapt instantaneously to channel conditions, for example in case of video streaming applications as video conferencing services.
The final aim of this thesis work is the study, development and performance evaluation of a transmission system based on the SVC standard and devoted to video streaming applications on variable bandwidth channels. The activity implies:
  • outline a set of significant encoding scenarios to be tested;
  • channel modelling and simulation;
  • extensive objective and subjective evaluations on decoder side of algorithm performance.
Development of motion compensated filtering techniques for noise reduction in digital video sequences generated by CMOS sensors
Noise reduction is a fundamental aspect for every digital video process since it produces two main benefits: it improves human visual perception and increases compression efficiency of digital video coding systems. Today the most diffused video standard is the H.264/AVC (Advanced Video Coding), which implements a hybrid coding approach by exploiting both temporal and spatial redundancies to achieve efficient compression ratios. The noise, actually, causes high frequency spectral contributions in both spatial and temporal domains, thus preventing the coding process from fully exploitation of temporal and spatial samples correlation. The main targets of this thesis work are:
  • noise model shaping of most diffused CMOS sensors for digital cameras and camcorders;
  • development of a noise reduction method combining spatial and temporal filtering, also known as MCTF (Motion Compensated Temporal Filtering), employing STMicroelectronics proprietary algorithm implementation;
  • integration of the de-noising model as spatio-temporal prefiltering stage of HDTV resolution sequences, according to the H.264/AVC coding standard;
  • extensive objective and subjective evaluation of algorithm performance.

Wireless photocamera

The new Sony DSC-G3 Cyber-shot is the first digital camera that integrates a wireless Internet connection with 802.11b/g, allowing to upload images directly from camera to popular sharing sites.

The G3 camera has a 10 Mpixel sensor, 3.5" LCD touch screen display and it is based on the Linux operating system. The price declared is 500$.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

DivX 7 is out

The DivX company presented the next generation of their DivX video compression technology with DivX 7, that allows to create full-HD H.264/AVC videos in MKV (Matroska Video) format.

The software is donwloadable from the DivX official site. The player is free and supports display of conventional DivX and H.264/AVC videos, whereas the video encoder/converter has a price of 15,99€.

DivX has also established a partnership with Vuze, a P2P network that distributes HD H.264/AVC videos. Vuze is developed by Vuze, Inc. - formerly known as Azureus, Inc.