Tech Companies Band Together for New Video Format

Google, Microsoft, Intel and others seek royalty-free standard
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WAKEFIELD, MASS—A group consisting of some of the world’s largest technology companies has announced the formation of a technology alliance to develop next generation video codecs for IP-based video. 

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Founding members for the “Alliance for Open Media” include Amazon, Cisco, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla and Netflix. The group says its desire for an “open and interoperable” next generation video standard will “meet growing demand for top-quality video, audio, imagery and streaming across all devices of all kinds and for users worldwide.” It says the “open source project” is designed to develop new formats “in the public interest.” 

Although the word “standards” is nowhere to be found in the group’s announcement, it’s clear that the group is using its technology heft and worldwide reach to avoid the financial obligations that come with deploying current next-gen standards such as HEVC, the standard most likely to handle 4K. “The Alliance for Open Media brings together the leading experts in the entire video stack to work together in pursuit of open, royalty-free and interoperable solutions for the next generation of video delivery,” the group said in its announcement.

The new codecs will be based on current alliance video member formats such as Mozilla’s Daala, Google’s VP10 and Cisco’s recently announced Thor royalty-free codecs and will target the increasing use of high-resolution video, such as 4K, over IP. “As resolutions and framerates increase, the need for more advanced codecs with ever-better compression ratios will only grow,” said David Bryant, in a blog on Mozilla’s website. “We believe that Daala, Cisco’s Thor and Google’s VP10 codec combine to form an excellent basis for a truly world-class royalty-free codec.”

The initial project, according to the alliance, will focus on developing a new codec based on member contributions, along with binding specifications for media format, content encryption and adaptive streaming. More information on the alliance, including how to join, will be made available later this year.