Mobile 3DTV content delivery
optimization over DVB-H system

The project ultimate goal is to develop and demonstrate the viability of the new technology of mobile 3DTV. It will comprise the following features: suitable stereo-video content-creation techniques; efficient, scalable and flexible stereo-video encoders with error resilience and error-concealment capabilities, tailored for robust transmission over DVB-H; and also the corresponding stereo-video decoders and players working on a portable terminal device equipped with a stereoscopic display.

Project objectives

To achieve the project ultimate goal, the following objectives are targeted:

  1. Develop optimal formats for stereo video content creation for mobile 3DTV in terms of compressibility, efficient rendering and user satisfaction.
  2. Develop optimal appropriate codecs for mobile 3DTV in terms of supported spatial and temporal resolution, compression efficiency and decoder complexity.
  3. Develop optimal tools for error resilient transmission of mobile 3DTV content over DVB-H.
  4. Gather new knowledge about user experience in terms of acceptance of and satisfaction with mobile 3DTV content, relevant to the artefacts specific to mobile stereo-video compression and transmission and to the purpose for which the user will view such media.
  5. Develop novel metric for objective assessment of quality of processed stereo-video streams relevant to the artefacts specific to mobile stereo-video compression and transmission.
  6. Develop optimal tools for stereo video quality enhancement so as to appeal to the mobile user.
  7. Develop a backward-compatible prototype portable device capable of receiving and displaying 3D video streams.
  8. Build an end-to-end system enabling broadcasting of compressed and stored stereo-video content over DVB-H channel.

Technical approach

In our approach, we focus on the channel as a whole: from capture, through coding, transmission and display. Specifically, we consider the following scenario: stereoscopic video content is captured, properly encoded, encapsulated and then broadcast over mobile TV (DVB-H system) to be received, decoded and played by a DVB-H enabled portable device. The concept is illustrated in the following figure.

There are important unsolved questions and problems that will be addressed and answered through this project. It will determine the optimal data format for mobile 3DTV content taking specific conditions into account. Coding algorithms will be optimized with respect to the associated content creation format, channel and terminal-device requirements, and user experience. As a point-to-multipoint broadcast channel, DVB-H maintains error protection by adequate tools, tailored for monoscopic video. Nothing has been done so far concerning the error protection of stereo-video content over such a channel. Within this project, a new unequal protection scheme will be developed utilizing the layered structure of the mobile 3DTV content.

In our approach, we put the mobile user in focus since little is known about the user experience of 3D video content visualized on a portable screen. The degradations caused by channel errors or compression artefacts will be investigated at the receiver side in terms of user acceptance of quality and acceptance and satisfaction scores will be obtained through subjective tests. These shall be used for designing a new perceptual quality metric for mobile 3DTV, which in turn shall be used for efficient mobile 3D video coding/error-resilience algorithms, to achieve scalability and backward compatibility.

A purposely designed backward-compatible portable device equipped with auto-stereoscopic display will receive, decode and play the stereoscopic video streams. This device shall be a terminal of an end to end mobile 3DTV system. This system will incorporate the compressed stereo video streams and demonstrate error-resilient delivery to the handheld device over a real DVB-H channel.

Key issues

The main outcome of the MOBILE3DTV will be a working system for the capture and coding of 3D video content and its delivery and display on a mobile device. Today, no such system exists.

However, the technologies that enable the development of such a system are at a good stage of maturity. There exist, for example, handset solutions offering rich multimedia features such as MPEG-4 and H.264 encoding/decoding and DVB-H mobile TV. Reconfigurable 2D/3D mobile displays are also available. The scope of the MOBILE3DTV project is to pool various technologies, adapt, optimize and extend them, in order to make them work together efficiently within a single system.

Impact

The proposed mobile 3DTV technology originates from two technology areas, namely 3D technologies and mobile communications, where Europe excels. Its successful development will strengthen the leading role of Europe in introducing novel generations of media technologies.

It has been clear European policy to address the global interoperability issue by calling for a single standard for mobile TV. The MOBILE3DTV project will support this policy by advanced research in related technology fields.

It is expected that the mobile 3DTV technology will be relatively inexpensive as it builds on existing solutions, such as DVB-H broadcasting and H.264 compression standards. Thus, it has the potential to become the first established technology for 3D video content delivery available to the consumer. Rich 3D video content shall meet the capacity of both the telecom and broadcasting infrastructure and also consumer electronics manufacturing. It will boost also the development of future internet to become searchable through next-generation video sharing engines.

The first and immediate users of the results of this project will be the content providers and operators of DVB-H networks, as well as the manufacturers of handheld devices and their hardware and software suppliers. As far as consumers are concerned, they might be well attracted to new content, giving them the perception of depth. Having the freedom of mobility, they will experience more realistic and more enjoyable visual information. Content such as football matches or other sports events, commercials of art performances, nature documentaries, etc. in its new 3D usage form may captivate users’ attention and actually boost the whole mobile TV market.