Photo: NTT Docomo

Docomo develops world's first 360-degree 8K VR live video streaming and viewing system


NTT Docomo has developed what is believed to be the world's first 8K virtual reality (VR) live video streaming and viewing system for showing live events in 360° 8K VR video. A head-mounted viewing system creates highly realistic VR experiences for enjoying music and sporting events that allow viewers to feel as if they are actually at the venue.

The heavy demands of processing 4 x 4K video for real-time stitching and compression into 360° 8K video is difficult to achieve with software. DOCOMO's solution was to use a field programmable gate array (FPGA) for extra-fast processing and an algorithm for high-density mounting (maximizes FPGA processing) at 30 frames per second (fps).

To view video in the head-mounted display, the 360° 8K video is divided into multiple clipped videos (tiles) so that only the video corresponding to the user's viewing direction needs to be displayed. In addition, a Panorama Cho Engine encoder is used for devising algorithms that enable real-time operation, thereby reducing the processing demands for live transmission.

The system comprises equipment that stitches together five 4K fisheye videos from five outward-facing cameras in real time at 30fps, an 8K H.264 encoder for real-time compression, the real-time Panorama Cho Engine encoder to divide the 360° 8K video into multi-direction tiles, and a server to transmit tiles according to the user's viewing direction.

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One wonders whether as these VR devices become more realistic, if content will need to be monitored so as not to cause shock to the viewer. I've heard it said that if you dream you're dying in your sleep, then you can actually die (not sure how they know that though), but parallels to near reality VR could I guess be drawn soon.

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Ready Player One

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Not sure how good 30 fps would be. I guess it's a start. Even when 5G finally arrives surely there will be data caps. This would rip through serious GBs in no time at all so I'm not convinced it's going to happen anytime soon. But could be good for WC for sure.

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