Author: Rob Koenen

The 2019 IABM award for “Project, Collaboration or Event” was awarded to the team that created the unique dual-6K camera, cloud-produced, live VR360 Events. The submission by MediaKind was one of the 4 entries on the shortlist, and proved to be the ultimate winner. Representatives from MediaKind, Deutsche Telekom (who commissioned the project) Magnum Film and of course Tiledmedia where present to receive the award.

We are obviously very happy to win this prestigious and coveted prize, which was awarded by an independent jury of 40 experts in the field of broadcast and media technologies.

We call it “planar” tiled streaming, because we haven’t found a better name for it yet. But what we are showing at Harmonic’s NAB booth (SU810) is exciting: interactive streaming of 8K content to mobile devices. The technology employs the same tiled streaming technology that underpins ClearVR. It’s just a different mapping onto the screen, and it’s not intended for consumption in headsets (but, who knows?)

The use case is actually the same one that led us to start the development of tiled streaming in 2011: from an extremely high-resolution source, streaming only the pixels that you see at the resolution that you see them, allowing flexible zoom and pan. We adapted that technology to VR360 and headsets, then to VR360 on ‘flat devices”, and now we are again showing “flat” content on “flat devices”. We’ve gone full circle! (But we certainly see VR360 growing as well – especially for live events.)

We see interest from sports venues, for instance with a track and field events or for football matches (whether American football or what Americans call “soccer” ūüôā It’s a great in-venue use case, where spectators can get personalized views even if they are high up in the stands, in an application that allows them to see replays at their leisure. It is also a great second screen use case, for people watching a game at home.

We are showing the use case with tennis content originating from our collaboration with France Télévisions, together with Harmonic one of our technical R&D partners.

Come see it at SU810!

In the run-up to NAB 2019, MediaKind announced that it has deployed its Cygnus 360aaS platform. The service is powered by Tiledmedia’s ClearVR. After having done the world’s first scalable, dual camera, live events at 6K late last year, we are now ready to service new customers with very short lead times.

The newly launched service represents a major milestone for Tiledmedia. We have cooperated closely with MediaKind in getting the technology to work, and we have done innovative projects together, and this now results in the commercial launch of our technology, allowing more content distributors to benefit from the efficiency of ClearVR.

The launch is a great example of Tiledmedia’s vision: we want to improve streaming of VR, live and on-demand, by working with ecosystem partners. Working with partners allows us to stay focused on our core mission: developing the world’s best solution for efficient streaming of extremely high-resolution immersive video content.

Xavier (middle) posing with his Award

Our star developer Xavier Corbillon won the Best 2018 Thesis Award from Institut Mines-Télécom in France. This annual prize is a great honour and a recognition of the outstanding quality of the work of its recipient. Under the supervision of thesis advisor Gwendal Simon, Xavier studied methods for the efficient streaming of 360 video. Having won a few best poster and paper awards already, he went on to claim the top prize for the best thesis in 2018 of all thirteen IMT Universities.

To explain how special this is: out of all recipients of an Engineering Degree at IMT, only the top 5% get selected for “Futur and Ruptures” industry funding – 11 candidates in total. Out of those, 9 were invited to make an oral presentation, then 4 were requested to make a video, and finally the jury selected Xavier as the best candidate. Or put differently: he was had the best thesis of about 500 that get defended each year at one of the 13 IMT Universities. The jury noted as one of the considerations that Xavier now puts his thesis work into practice in industry – at Tiledmedia.

We are obviously proud of Xavier, and very happy that he now works for us! See this YouTube video which very clearly explains his thesis:


Xavier’s thesis is here – it’s in English so feel free to take a look!

Rotterdam, NL, 8 March ’19 – To Celebrate International Women’s Day, we are adding a set of powerful immersive videos showcasing female role models to our ClearVR demo app today.

The Female Planet collection, beautifully produced by Surround Vision in Partnership with Google’s VR team, showcases women who break barriers and help making the world a better place for all of us. This series of 360¬ļ films allows the audience to shadow five extraordinary women with careers in science, technology, sports and the arts who share their personal and professional experiences.

Now for the first time, these clips are made available in unparalleled 6k stereoscopic VR for streaming, enabled by ClearVR, and kindly made possible by Surround Vision.

You can play these clips using the “flat” ClearVR Android app that can be downloaded from the Google Play Store, here. It’s much better in a headset though. The app for the GearVR and Oculus Go is unfortunately not publicly available, but we’ll send an Oculus Store Code to anyone that would like to try it out and see these amazing clips. Click here if you want one. Access is free, and we‚Äôll send you a store code as soon as we receive your request.

While we are at it: we welcome women engineers to apply for a job at Tiledmedia. We need you!

25 – 28 February, Barcelona, Spain

ClearVR is already a very good fit with 4G, but with 5G, the user experience gets even better. We’ll be demonstrating this in the Intel and Ciena booths at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. CEO Frits Klok and CBO Rob Koenen will be in Barcelona for meetings on Tuesday 26 and Wednesday 27 February.

Schedule a meeting at MWC ’19

At Intel’s booth, Hall 3 Stand 3E31, we show a live end-to-end architecture with encoding based on Intel’s open source SVT-HEVC encoder, with the delivery supported by an Intel-based streaming server and Intel’s Mobile Edge Technology for caching tiled content close to the user. The result is a live workflow that can deliver 8k VR with super-fast responses to head motion and handheld swiping – it’s so fast that users could never tell they are only receiving the viewport, and not the entire 8k video.

See Tiledmedia joins Intel Network Builders Program for some further background.

At Ciena’s booth, Hall 2 Stand 2J51, we work with market leaders  Ciena, AkamaiAffirmed NetworksEquinix, and Wind River to showcase how to implement an 8k video-friendly network environment that capitalizes on edge compute/cloud. The demo leverages Ciena‚Äôs Blue Planet intelligent automation platform to automate wireless infrastructure via a dynamic and virtualized Evolved Packet Core (vEPC) from Affirmed Networks and edge compute capabilities from Wind River‚Äôs Titanium CloudCiena automates video content delivery over a reliable, agile, and scalable virtual Content Delivery Network (vCDN) from Akamai, featuring 8k Virtual Reality (VR) video powered by our ClearVR technology video. The demo is enabled via Equinix‚Äôs network by leveraging their Macro Edge, Cloud Exchange Fabric, NFVI, and future Micro Edge capabilities.

A full write-up by Ciena is here.

Tiledmedia is proud to have joined Intel’s Network Builders Program. Our membership reflects our close cooperation with Intel, in which Intel Visual Cloud engineers have done a significant amount of work to support our live and on-demand encoding solutions.

Not only did Intel adapt its Scalable Video Technologies (SVT) HEVC encoder to observe the constraints that make our tiling tech work; they also squeezed out every last CPU cycle, so that we can use it in real-time for encoding 8K VR.

Intel’s open source SVT-HEVC encoder now powers our ClearVR Cloud Live platform, while the encoder can also run locally (on-premise) or in a (mobile) edge server. And it’s really many encoders running in parallel: for an 8k live stream we may need to encode over 200 tiles with SD-like resolution, all in real-time, with very tight timing constraints.

We are showing the edge solution at Mobile World Congress ’19 in Barcelona – come check it out!

Deutsche Telekom has¬† streamed a live Basketball Match from the German “Bundesliga” in high quality, 6K tiled VR on Sunday 9 December at 15:00 CET. The match was covered with two cameras, and every user of the Magenta VR app had free access. The app allows seamless switching between the two cameras, of which one is placed at the sideline in the middle of the court, and the other is mounted to one of the basket posts.

Read our blog post here: World’s First Dual-Camera 6K Live VR Production

Read the press release here (in German): Magenta Virtual Reality: Basketball Bundesliga erstmals live im 360-Grad-Stream.

Here is an English translation of the full release:

Magenta Virtual Reality: Basketball Bundesliga live for the first time in 360-degree stream

  • Telekom Baskets Bonn against EWE Baskets Oldenburg on 9 December in 360-degree live streaming
  • Innovative live technology: Tiled-Based Streaming ensures HD experience
  • Free access for anyone with Magenta VR App

On the 9th of December, a Telekom Baskets game against EWE Oldenburg Baskets will be broadcast for the first time in the Magenta VR app – live from the Telekom Dome in Bonn, in high-quality 360-degrees video. The live stream will be available for free, and the transmission starts at 14:45 hours, with the tip-off at 15:00 hours.

The online VR distribution of this basketball game allows sports and basketball enthusiasts to be present up close via the App. With the Magenta VR App, you can cheer with the teams in 360 degree VR directly from the sidelines. Deutsche Telekom uses an innovative technology for the live stream Рthe so-called Tiled-Based Stream, which transmits the video in the user’s direct field of view in HD resolution. With a VR headset like the Lenovo Mirage Solo, streaming users feel even more present in the stadium, live, while the game happens.

Stephan Heininger, Head of Deutsche Telekom Virtual Reality, is convinced: “With Magenta VR and Magenta Musik 360, Telekom already offers a wide range of excellent virtual entertainment formats. In doing so, we are always looking to offer our users the highest streaming quality and, in the future, even more live broadcasts. Tiled-based streaming already enables the best VR experience ever.”

Dr.¬†Stefan Holz, Managing Director of EasyCredit BBL, is also enthusiastic: “The 360-degree live streaming is further proof that with Deutsche Telekom we have an innovative partner at our side that always finds ways to take reporting on our sport to a new level. “

Users can watch the 360 ‚Äč‚Äčdegree sport highlight for free via the Magenta VR app on Android smartphones, Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Go and Daydream headsets.

Anett Sattler and ex-basketball international Pascal Roller will be on site for interviews, introducing the new 360-degree broadcast to the audience as well as providing  game analysis. Match commentary is provided by Stefan Koch.

The technical implementation:

  • Magnum Film acts as a general contractor, is responsible for the production on site and manages the others partners together with Deutsche Telekom.
  • INVR.SPACE is responsible for recording the 360-degree streams in 6K resolution.
  • MediaKind transfers the streams to the cloud and processes, encodes and distributes them via a CDN for Magenta VR users.
  • Tiledmedia‚Äôs innovative tile-based streaming technology was integrated in the MediaKind platform as well as Magenta VR app,allowing streaming in high quality via regular internet connections and even over 4G.
  • Iconic Engine implemented support for the tile-based live stream in the Magenta VR App for an intuitive, immersive and interactive experience. “

  • Live VR360 streaming of a professional league basketball game with ClearVR;
  • Full, multi-party, professional, end-to-end chain;
  • Two simultaneous camera feeds with instant user-initiated switching;
  • High, 6K VR360 quality at average bitrates below 10 Mbit/s per user;
  • Full, mixed audio feeds audio with professional commentary;
  • Unlimited scalability of distribution (within CDN constraints);
  • Playback of the same 6K sources across multiple platforms: today’s VR Headsets (Oculus Go and Gear VR), and Android tablets, phones and STBs. ¬†Select iOS users also had access.¬†

.

Deutsche Telekom issued a Press Release to announce the event.

On Sunday 9 December, Tiledmedia’s ClearVR technology enabled the world’s first public live VR production at a resolution considerably exceeding the 4K traditionally used for live VR streaming. This event followed a successful try-out on November 11 in the same venue: The Telekom Dome in Bonn.

Deutsche Telekom issued a Press Release to announce the event.

Commissioned by Deutsche Telekom and available in DT’s MagentaVR app, the project partners built a complete end-to-end system around our ClearVR tiled streaming technology. On 11 November and 9 December it went online to stream professional Bundesliga Basketball matches from Bonn, DE, in high-quality 360-degree Virtual Reality. The matches were Crailsheim Merlins @ Telekom Baskets on 11 November and EWE Oldenburg Baskets @ Telekom Baskets on 9 December.

Users across Europe had a choice between two cameras, both streamed in high, 6K quality; one at the sideline in front of the officials’ table, and the other mounted to the post of one of the baskets.

Magnum Film was responsible for the production, using cameras supplied by INVR and live editing software provided by Imeve.

MediaKind ingested the raw feeds into its Google-hosted cloud platform and performed the “tiling”, encoding and packaging.

These tiles where fed into Akamai‘s CDN origin server, from which the streams were made available across Europe for playback in the Magenta VR app, which had been updated by Iconic Engine to support ClearVR streaming.

Sports presenter Anett Sattler interviewing 2004 Bundesliga MVP Pascal Roller on the use of VR in engaging basketball fans

These were the first-ever events streamed in VR at this quality – not a trade show demo, but a real, end-to-end, glass-to-glass service available over just a regular Internet connection. The bitrate for end-users hovered around 10 Mbit/s second throughout the events – about 50% of what is usually required for 4K VR distribution, and about 25% of what would be needed for real-time 6K VR streaming using non-tiled technology. And even if it were possible to distribute a¬† 6K signal in its entirety, today’s devices wouldn’t be able to play it – they only have a 4K decoder. ClearVR overcomes these limitations.

Viewers were able to use their MagentaVR app on a standard Oculus Go or Gear VR to follow the game with commentary.¬† The streams were also available on tablets and Android phones via Tiledmedia’s ClearVR demonstration application. We even had it available on an Android Set Top Box connected to a large TV at Tiledmedia’s offices, where we were able to pan using the remote – a surprisingly compelling experience.

All participants were able to switch back and forth between the two cameras with only 50 millisecond switching time – an instant switch to the user.

The events worked flawlessly. On both occasions, two 3.5 hour streams ran without a single interruption and were available to anyone across Europe. The glass-to-glass latency was about 30 seconds, which we expect to be able to bring in the 5 – 10 second range by doing a few straightforward optimizations.

We look forward to taking this another level up: moving from monoscopic to stereoscopic, from 30 frames per second to 60 fps, and distributing to a larger group of users. Watch this space!

Putting cabling into the control room

The central camera (basket camera being mounted in the background)

Mounting the camera to the basket post

VR Control Room

Some of the equipment

Remotely monitoring ClearVR quality with taco chips and beer during a Sunday session at Tiledmedia HQ, Rotterdam, NL.

Rob Koenen was interviewed by IBC TV during the 5-day show, in his role as Tiledmedia Founder and VRIF President. He talked about the reality of VR360 today, and gave a glimpse into the future of immersive media. See the 6-minute interview¬†on IBC’s website.

A longer interview with Bleuenn Le Goffic (Accedo) and Rob, along the same lines but much more in-depth, is available here:

On Wednesday 11 July, Tiledmedia was featured in the financial section of NL’s largest newspaper, De Telegraaf:¬† “Streaming VR Live

It’s a very nice article; obviously in Dutch;¬† part of a weekly series highlighting companies in the SME Innovation Top 100 (“MKB Innovatie Top 100”), which runs until the final ranking is announced on September 26th. We were the first company to appear in this series!

 

Tiledmedia was voted into the MKB (Small and Medium Enterprise) Innovation Top 100 recently. Secretary of State of Economic Affairs, Mona Keijzer, unveiled the list on 25 June. All 250 competitors were judged on relevance for the sector and society, originality, availability of the technology, revenue and growth potential.

The ranking within the 100 will be announced on September 26th. The announcement by the Dutch Chamber of Commerce is here (in Dutch).

At the Rotterdam Capital Days, the West Holland Innovation Accelerator and investor InnovationQuarter went on stage to announce its recent investment in Tiledmedia and hand the traditional investment tomb stone to Tiledmedia CEO Frits Klok.

InnovationQuarter’s press release can be found here.

Left to right: Rob Koenen, Ray van Brandenburg, Anoesjka Imambaks (Venture Café), Francis Quint (IQ), Frits Klok, Marty le Clerq (IQ)

AIS

Our groundbreaking ClearVR streaming technology is now also officially “Award-Winning”. The Advanced Imaging Society honored Tiledmedia with one of its 2018 Technology Awards for outstanding technical achievement in Entertainment Arts and Technologies.¬† And with Microsoft, Lytro¬† and Dolby among the winners, we are in very good company. Quoting from AIS’s website: “The Society‚Äôs globally recognized Lumiere Awards will be presented to technologies or processes which have demonstrated both innovation and impact in advancing the creation or delivery of quality content.”

And quoting from the press release:¬† ‚ÄúOur latest class of 10 Technology Awards honorees and our timely recognition of 13 women receiving our Distinguished Leadership Award encompass familiar names along with recent discoveries, all of which represent the most creative, productive and forward-thinking efforts in visual technology and emerging content,‚ÄĚ said Jim Chabin, President and CEO of The Advanced Imaging Society.

Some more coverage here on Variety’s website.

Rob Koenen traveled to LA after CES to attend the awards luncheon on January 16th, and collected Tiledmedia’s first statuette on behalf of the team.

Rob thanked the AIS for the award. He said that he felt both honored and humbled to be among the winners, as a company that is barely a year old and until recently had only 4.5 people working for it. Rob further noted that he saw the Award as an indication that the belief is shared that immersive media hold great promise, but that the industry needs to keep working to improve the Quality of Experience.

See on Flickr for a few pictures.

We gave the statuette a nice place in our Rotterdam HQ, where it awaits the company of more awards. But it will be very hard to beat this statuette!

As of mid-December the ClearVR SDK and Packagers support stereoscopic content. We have been quietly testing it with a few partners, and it works fully as expected.

Adding support for stereoscopic content has been on our wish list for some time – and also on the wish lists of quite a few of our partners.

Next up: iOS support. Stay tuned!

COO Arjen Veenhuizen in a true VR interview at IBC

IBC was a great event. Lots of good feedback, lots of interest in our ClearVR technology. Our joint demo with Ericsson and Sky of VR-as-a-second-screen, to a head-mounted device and a tablet, drew significant interest. The same applies to the Virtual Stadium app shown by Viaccess-Orca, as well as the integration with spatial audio as shown by both DTS and Viaccess-Orca. Adding spatial audio makes VR a really immersive, compelling experience.

Transforming a technology demo to a set of convincing use cases made all the difference. What also made a difference: being able to show 6k streaming live, from Akamai’s production CDN, at the Akamai booth. And we didn’t just stream stream it over WiFi (always a huge challenge at a trade show) – we even showed 6k VR360 panoramas streaming over 4G. At the show!

Our ClearVR brochure is now available for download. It has a good summary of our SDK and Cloud solution.

Also, see the photo impression of Tiledmedia @IBC!

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