There are three technologies that will fundamentally change the nature of video over the next few years, and these are having a significant impact on the collaboration market, according to Cisco.
The first technology is High Efficiency Video Codec, or H265. When video goes over the network it is encoded using compression technology. Most of the video that is consumed over TV is encoded using MPEG2, whereas video consumed over the internet is H264, and H264 is about twice as efficient as MPEG2.
H265, which was ratified this year and is expected to come into the marketplace in the next couple of years, is in turn twice as efficient. This means that for the same amount of bandwidth you can get twice as much quality, or twice as much video for the same amount of bandwidth.
Cisco believes that this will have a particularly profound effect on mobile video, because even with the arrival of LTE, mobile networks are bandwidth constrained, and it is very expensive to provision more bandwidth.
“2012 was the first year that over half of the bandwidth on the macro radios was video. We expect by 2017, 70 percent of the traffic will be video. So you can imagine what doubling the efficiency of that video means – you're going to see a lot more HD video experiences on mobile devices,” said Kip Compton, CTO of Cisco's video and collaboration group.
The second technology is called Alter-HD or alternatively 4K video (4K refers to the number of lines of resolution). This is the next step up from HD video, with improved quality and depth of colour.
“It's not dissimilar quite frankly to what Apple has done with their retina displays, although this is even higher resolution than a retina display and meant for larger screens,” said Compton.
Alter-HD offers four times as many pixels in each direction as HD, redefining what an immersive experience from a video perspective means, and this will have implications for Cisco's telepresence products, according to Compton.
The third technology is called WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication). This is a standard that, instead of coming from the video codec and resolution world, is coming from the web world. A definition is currently being drafted by the World Wide Web Consortium and the IETF.
WebRTC is a way of making every browser on every device an HD video conferencing end point. This means that every device – be it fixed or mobile – will have a standard way of doing video conferencing.
It also dovetails with HTML5, in that the video conferencing experience can be embedded in an HTML5 app or web page. This means that, not only is every browser a video conferencing-enabled end point, but application developers can make it part of their application.
“An obvious example would be an online retailer making it very easy for you to video chat with an expert about a product, or video chat with a call rep to complete an order,” said Compton
Video is one of Cisco's top priorities for the next five years, and the company expects business IP video conferencing to grow sixfold by 2016, growing more than two times as fast as overall business IP traffic, at a CAGR of 42 percent.