It doesn’t matter if it’s a promotional video, a piece of corporate training, a Skype video chat, or a short animation by a kid in Kansas…if it’s on the internet, the tech moguls of Silicon Valley are pushing hard to upgrade it all to high definition.
Not only do they want to enhance the average net user’s experience, they’re also now competing against television. The average television these days is HD and tops out at 1080p (or ~2.07 megapixels per frame). The best quality of video you can expect to find on the internet is 1080i (~1.04 megapixels per frame). So even though they’re both technically high definition, television sets have computers soundly beaten, with almost twice the number of pixels. With the advent of 3D televisions, that gap is only set to widen.
That’s where Google and their new technology, dubbed VP9, come into play. It’s basically free software that any company can use that will improve video quality across the board while maintaining a high loading speed. But here’s the twist: Google’s magic touch has not made this technology take hold anywhere but YouTube, a website it already owns. True, YouTube is the website of choice for video-hosting…for now. Anybody familiar with the history of the internet knows how quick things change.
AOL, anyone? Netscape?
The software that developers are actually using— also free, also geared to improve net video quality— is called HEVC (high efficiency video codec] and it’s blowing the competition out of the water. To put it into perspective, this software will quadruple the video quality of current Blu-Ray discs. And since every developer—aside from Google of course; they’re staying with their VP9 software —are looking to get the best video quality at the highest speed, and HEVC is doing exactly that, they’re using HEVC.
The most exciting part of this, however, is that they’re now developing this software for use on mobile devices and tablets. Most people watch their favorite movies and television shows on their phones or tablets. When this amazingly high definition video is available on you iPad, where will television be? Some say it’s premature to think that tablets will supplant television entirely in the near future, but the race is sure on.
With computer and mobile device manufactures, such as Apple, beginning to enter the television market, you can expect big changes for both sides. There has recently been much buzz online about the revamped Apple TV. Not the little box you plug into your existing TV that Apple already sells; they’re talking about a self-contained Apple TV unit. What features it will have, what capabilities and access it will have is anyone’s guess at this point. With the perfect storm of television companies losing revenue and cable providers circling the drain with their overpriced service and poor technical support, computer companies like Apple are in the perfect position to upend the way we view media, whether it’s on a tablet or on a TV.