'Streamloading' to Ease Buffering

Guest_Jim_* - July 1, 2013 08:48AM in Science & Technology

A fairly common experience for people using mobile devices is waiting for a video to buffer before they can watch it. As the speed a video buffers depends on the wireless connection, the time you wait can vary greatly. Researchers at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University though have developed a new streaming method that could potentially reduce the time you wait, and the load on mobile networks.

Called 'streamloading,' this new method splits the video into two layers; a base and an enhancement layer. The base layer represents a coarse version of the video while the enhancement layer adds most of the detail and quality. (Imagine the base layer being a standard definition video and the enhancement layer being the details to achieve high definition.) By separating the two layers it is possible to download them separately, so the larger enhancement layer can be downloaded when the wireless signal is strong, while the base layer is streamed at the time of viewing on a weaker signal.

The researchers predict that using streamloading could reduce the amount of streamed content by 75% on a cellular network, which would greatly ease congestion, because the enhancement layer may have been downloaded on a Wi-Fi network instead. As the enhancement layer is useless without the base layer, the researchers are confident streamloading will not circumvent the DRM of services like Netflix.

Source: Polytechnic Institute of New York University