ProVision Demonstrates Real-Time Video over WiFi

ProVision Communications has announced that its technology has been used to enable real-time multicast video streaming over WiFi of the action at the first day of the 2007 World Rally Championship (WRC) Wales Rally GB on Friday 30 November.

Spectators in the hospitality area at the Walters Arena were able to watch and select a choice of video channels showing the action at different parts of the rally course, using WiFi enabled PDAs and smartphones equipped with ProVision’s software decoder running on Windows Mobile 5 and Mobile 6 respectively.

Two video cameras were located around the rally track, remotely from the stadium, and another was positioned inside one of the rally cars. The video feeds, powered by ProVision’s advanced H.264 technology, allowed spectators at the venue to have personal access via the hand-held terminals to a choice of real-time audio and video streams across the stages from both the trackside and the in-car cameras, providing a greatly enhanced spectator experience. The video channels were also displayed in split-screen format on a large outdoor display and on plasma screens in the hospitality area. Normally at such events there is only a single feed of edited output relayed to portable TVs or large screen displays.

The ProVision H.264 video encoding and decoding modules (codecs) formed a key part of the demonstration staged at the WRC Wales Rally GB by VISUALISE, a UK government sponsored project. Each ProVision module comprises a DSP-based H.264 module for the real time encoding and wireless transmission of video from a camera, and the software-based decoder platform that allows it to be received on a PC, PDA or smartphone. The encoded video signal is transmitted and received through an integrated IEEE 802.11b/g modem that incorporates antenna diversity.

On the handheld terminal a customised graphical user interface (GUI) allows the spectator to select the video or information channel they require from a menu.

A number of communications technologies – 3G, 802.11b/g WiFi, satellite and Ethernet – were used in combination to deliver the video signals to the spectators, with the ProVision units providing the key enabling links both for the WiFi unicast from each camera to the servers at the media control centre and for the multicast over WiFi from the servers to the handheld terminals.

VISUALISE is a collaborative project supported by the UK Technology Strategy Board, which also involves British Telecom, Inmarsat, 3CR, the Centre for Communications Research (CCR), International Sportsworld Communicators (ISC), U4EA, Util4 and Maniac Films. The project is managed by 3CR, and aims to provide an enhanced experience for spectators at events through local area access to a rich range of media via hand-held devices. In addition to coverage from out of sight locations, features such as action replays, archive material and statistics can be made available.