As a general rule, virtual reality (VR) and 360-degree video tends to work better when it is in higher quality. High-quality images mean there is less to break the immersion, and also means that the dreaded simulation sickness symptoms are lessened. However, when the images are live-streamed, you might run into some problems. Technology company Docomo thinks it has found the answer.
NTT Docomo Inc have announced that it has developed a new system for 8K VR live video streaming for showing live events in 360-degrees. The system is said to allow users wearing a VR headset to enjoy smooth and realistic VR experiences for viewing live music and sporting events.
It has been noted that the demands of 360-degree video are not just in the bandwidth of the high-quality video itself, but also in the processing demand for real-time stitching and compression. With 8K 360-degree video this is particularly challenging.
Docomo’s solution was to use a field programmable gate array (FPGA) for processing and high speed along with a specially developed algorithm for high-density mounting at 30 frames per second.
To reduce transmission demand, the video is divided into ‘tiles’ so that only the video corresponding to the user’s viewing direction is rendered in full quality. This processes has been used successfully in other types of VR application, where it is referred to as foveated rendering.
The system is made up of equipment which allows for the output from five 4K fisheye lenses in five outward-facing cameras to be stitched together in real time at 30fps, along with a H.264 encoder for real-time compression, the real-time Panorama Cho Engine encoder to divide the 360-degrees 8K video into multi-direction tiles and a server which can transmit the tiles according to the viewing direction of the user.
The company is planning to exhibit the system at Docomo 5G Open Lab Yotsuya. For future coverage of 360-degree video technology, keep checking back with VRFocus.