About LG U+
LG U+ was established on July 11, 1996. It is one of the pioneers of commercial 5G mobile services in the world. The company aims to bring innovative and enticing services to its customers and has a strong focus on Augmented and Virtual Reality. LG U+ is leading the Global XR Content Telco Alliance which collaborates on developing 5G-based eXtended Reality content – both AR and VR. The alliance includes industry leaders Bell Canada, China Telecom, Mobile Business Group Chunghwa Telecom, KDDI, Orange, Verizon, Qualcomm Technologies and major VR Studios Atlas V, Felix & Paul Studios and Trigger Global.
High quality VR360
After delivering 4K VR360 services to its customers for a while, LG U+ realized that to give viewers a better immersive experience, the resolution of the distributed VR video needed to go up. Early 2020, LG U+ decided to upgrade the existing 4K VR360 service to a VR streaming solution supporting 8K and higher resolutions. It sent a Request for Proposal to several suppliers in Q2, asking for a streaming solution that maximized quality and device compatibility and minimized bandwidth requirements. In July 2020, LG Uplus selected Tiledmedia’s Korean integration partner Acetel to implement Tiledmedia’s ClearVR viewport adaptive streaming solution supporting 8K live and 16K on-demand VR360 playback.
After a quick implementation phase, the solution went in service in October 2020. ClearVR Cloud, running on Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure, transcodes the incoming camera and on-demand video clips into viewport adaptive format. The distribution relies on an AWS Content Delivery Network (CDN). The ClearVR Player SDK was integrated into the U+ VR application to enable the high quality streaming playback. It is available on VR Head Mounted Displays like the Pico RealPlus and on mobile devices in “flat” and “Cardboard” viewing. To ensure that customers who access the service on less powerful networks still have a great experience, we created a bitrate-adaptive version of tiled streaming. Combining bitrate-adaptive and viewport-adaptive streaming allows the tiled content to be played across different networks and bandwidth conditions, always with the best possible quality.
Acetel integrated control of the ClearVR Cloud transcoding into LG U+ operational systems. Hyunwook Kim, responsible for implementing the viewport based streaming solution in LG U+ and a tiled streaming expert himself, said: “LG U+ is taking the lead in providing extremely realistic services with leading VR·AR technology.” (read full article in Korean)
Content is king
A 16K VR viewport streaming system is only useful when used with compelling content. LG U+ addressed this by compiling a large catalogue of more than 2,000 VR content items that can be enjoyed on the U+VR service. Even more important: it is streaming major live events in VR360. One of the milestones in 2020 was the broadcasting, in VR360, of the major games of the 2020 KBO League (Korean Baseball Organisation).
Viewers could watch the game from three perspectives: VIP view, Cheerleader view and Dugout view. From each of these viewpoints, an Insta360 Titan camera or a Kandao Obsidian streamed content via dedicated connections from the stadium to ClearVR Cloud running in an AWS data center in Seoul. ClearVR Cloud transcoded the content into tiled format, and ingested it into AWS’s MediaStore service, and it was then streamed to users by CloudFront. A huge virtual TV screen (‘Jumbotron’) was available for viewers to follow the regular broadcast while watching in VR. This brings the best of both worlds: being virtually in the stadium and still able to watch the close-ups and replays!
Viewers can not only watch the baseball from three fully immersive perspectives, they can do so together with their friends. In the 8K Social VR Realistic Baseball Broadcast service, user-created avatars can get together to watch games in a Virtual Reality space. They can talk to each other via a voice connection and share their joy – they can even set off virtual fireworks in the sky. Cheering, talking and shouting together makes you feel like you are at the stadium. The avatars have many options to modify their appearance so friends can create unique avatars fitting their personality. The application also allowed for small games to be played together during the match.
U+ VR benefits from the following ClearVR Features:
- Efficient delivery of high-resolution VR360, live and on-demand
- Highly scalable live distribution of viewport-dependent (tiled) VR180 and VR360; compatible with existing CDNs; no need for per-user processing
- ClearVR Cloud transcoding for multiple parallel live cameras
- Immediate and seamless VR camera switching during live matches
- Continuous audio and video during camera switches
- Single SDK for all video playback, live and on-demand, VR and rectilinear
- ClearVR player robust to temporary network glitches
Tiledmedia’s deliverables for U+ VR are as follows:
- ClearVR SDK
- Unity SDK for integration with U+ VR App, developed by LG U+ and its application partner
- SDK handles all video playback in U+ VR App: live and on-demand viewport adaptive ABR streams
- SDK handles camera sync
- ClearVR Cloud
- Fully redundant tiled transcoding for up to 6 tiled broadcast-grade VR360 cameras, synchronised
- Tiled transcoding of VR360 match highlights for on-demand viewing
- Tiled transcoding for on-demand content assets
- Advanced API to allow control of the transcoding process. This API is used by integration partner Acetel and enables LG U+ management and control functions.
- CDN Integration
- Contribution of ClearVR-transcoded feeds to LG U+ CDN Origin on AWS
- Working with LG U+ in a process of continuous innovation, Acetel and Tiledmedia are part of the project team that expands, enhances, and improves U+ VR. We have delivered many enhancements since the original delivery of the system. Using Slack, the partners are only a keypress away.
If you are interested in more, please feel free to contact us.
All pictures courtesy of LG U+.
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