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Technology Showcase: Video Over IP

Nov 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Jay Ankeney

The latest hardware-based technology simplifies video distribution.

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With the vast increase in bandwidth now available to people connected to either proprietary corporate networks or the public Internet, along with the improved efficiency of H.264 compression — which is also known as MPEG-4 Part 10 or AVC (Advanced Video Coding) — the capabilities of sending video over IP are growing rapidly. While not long ago it required a data-transfer rate of 5Mbps to transmit full-frame 30fps video, today, H.264 can send that same video quality at 1/10 the rate. As a result, applications including security cameras, digital signage, television news gatherers transmitting their stories back to the studio, and the weekly pep-talk ego-casts beamed from earnest CEOs to every division of their company are sending their video content over IP. Any grandma cooing over her daughter's newborn being seen for the first time on a webcam is benefiting from video over IP.

The amount of video being sent over IP on any given day is impossible to quantify, but the market research firm Frost & Sullivan has been able to track the growth of IP-based video transport service providers in the broadcast industry. The company's report, titled “U.S. Fibre-based Broadcast Video Transport Services Market” and released in March 2008, stated: “Never before have the terrestrial networks been in as much demand for transporting broadcast video content as they are now, which is largely due to the emergence of Internet Protocol/Multiprotocol Label Switching (IP/MPLS) backbones and next-generation transport technologies such as the Ethernet. The U.S. broadcast-video transport services market generated revenues worth over $200 million in the year 2007, and the market revenues are expected to exceed $600 million in 2012.”

When it comes to global IP video traffic, on June 16, Cisco released a white paper titled “Approaching the Zettabyte Era.” (A zettabyte equals one sextillion bytes or 1021.) In it, Cisco reported that “Internet video is now approximately one-quarter of all consumer Internet traffic, not including the amount of video exchanged through P2P file sharing. Internet video was 22 percent at the end of 2007, and will reach 32 percent by the end of this year. The sum of all forms of video (TV, VoD, Internet, and P2P) will account for close to 90 percent of consumer traffic by 2012. Internet video alone will account for nearly 50 percent of all consumer Internet traffic in 2012.”

Although discussing the topic of video over IP is as broad as analyzing ships on the ocean, we are going to look at examples of hardware-based technology selected from a variety of sources of potential interest to systems integrators and their corporate clients to take measure of the scope of its possibilities. Granted, that harks to the ancient fable of blind monks examining an elephant, but that is, in reality, just a reflection of the power of Internet Protocol and the mystery of whole Internet itself. Remember, though, that in the end, it is just an elephant.

After it acquired Atrium Group Developments in June of this year, AMX launched Atrium's seventh-generation IPTV system, rebranded Vision2. (Although crowned with a superscript “2”, the product is pronounced “Vision Two.”) The AMX Vision2 system enables you to capture, store, retrieve, and distribute live and archived content to meet a variety of video needs via the Internet or an intranet with the help of five built-in applications. V2 Live captures, encodes, multicasts, unicasts, or streams live video content in MPEG-2, MPEG-4, or WMV formats. V2 Record records the video and stores it in V2 Archive for future viewing. V2 Archive then allows you to store and manage videos in Flash, WMV, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4 format. V2 Archive has an integrated search feature that allows you to find content based on titles and metadata. V2 Producer enables the scheduling of prerecorded video for timed playback over IP. Finally, V2 On Demand provides users with the ability to watch video content stored in the V2 Archive whenever they want with simple browsing and search features.

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