When watching a videostream on your media streamer/network media player, there is little that is more annoying than constant stopping and starting and showing a screen that reads “loading.” Buffering and pixelation are the scourge of streaming video. It ruins the experience for viewers, and is a headache for streaming services. But the good news is that a research team led by MIT professor Mohammad Alizadeh has developed an artificial intelligence (dubbed ‘Pensieve’) that can select the best algorithms for ensuring videostream without interruption, and at the best possible playback quality
The method improves upon existing tech, including the adaptive bitrate (ABR) method used by YouTube that throttles back quality to keep videos playing, albeit with pixelation and other artifacts. The AI can select different algorithms depending on what kind of network conditions a device is experiencing, cutting down on the downsides associated with any one method.
During experimentation, the CSAIL research team behind this method found that video streamed with between 10 and 30 percent less rebuffing, with 10 to 25 percent improved quality. Those gains would definitely add up to a significantly improved experience for most video viewers, especially over a long period.
“Our system is flexible for whatever you want to optimize it for,” MIT professor Mohammad Alizadeh said in a statement. “You could even imagine a user personalizing their own streaming experience based on whether they want to prioritize rebuffering versus resolution.” The team trained this neural network on just a month’s worth of downloaded videostream content and yet was able to get the same resolution quality as the MPC system but with 10 to 30 percent less buffering.
We should eventually see this technology be adopted by the likes of YouTube and Netflix but first, the MIT team hopes to apply the AI to VR. “The bitrates you need for 4K-quality VR can easily top hundreds of megabits per second, which today’s networks simply can’t support,” Alizadeh said. “We’re excited to see what systems like Pensieve can do for things like VR. This is really just the first step in seeing what we can do.”
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