The internet has revolutionized the way people view content: Over-the-air broadcasts and cable- and satellite-based delivery methods have been replaced by video delivered over the internet – both live-streamed and file-based. Doing so has given consumers unprecedented choice, convenience, and control of where they watch and how.
Subscribers, viewer like you and me, expect the choice without the hassle of handling multiple streaming service subscriptions. And on top of all of that, they expect high viewing quality for their preferred content when and where they watch it.
The process of delivering quality video over the internet, however, is one that is fraught with peril. The existing video delivery chain – the journey that a video takes from camera to a viewer’s device – is fragmented. Each stage is controlled by different players. Each player is concerned with the quality of only their own small piece of the chain and lacks comprehensive, reliable tools to monitor quality and ensure product integrity through the length of a video’s journey.
SSIMWAVE, co-founded by the most cited researchers in the field, is solving these problems with a unified, end-to-end approach to video delivery starting with the end-viewer in mind. Its Emmy Award-winning technology literally puts the human visual system into software. It is able to predict and validate whether a viewer will be satisfied with the image they see on their screen, and if the answer shows that the viewer’s Quality of Experience (QoE) will be below optimal, its software will point the way to solutions, faster than real time, to make appropriate corrections.
“Our company’s technology monitors video traffic as it moves along the delivery chain to the viewer, evaluating it as if we were the viewer,” explains SSIMWAVE CEO Abdul Rehman.
“The goal is to ensure that a viewer, the human being sitting on their couch in front of their device or their high-definition TV, will be pleased with the end result as they watch a video, whether it’s file-based – a movie that you’ve decided to watch, for instance – or live-streamed, such as a live sporting event.”
“In short, our technology helps the companies that deliver video evaluate the video quality, spot potential problems and fix them – to judge the quality as it would be perceived by human beings, and to do so with unprecedented speed and accuracy. Bit by bit, frame by frame, we can assess how well a video is being delivered.”
“We want the original intent of that creator to be as impactful as possible for the viewer. That’s really the mission of everything we do – to have the viewer say, ‘That was good.’”
Traditional media companies are now responding to the demand for internet-based video by offering their own direct-to-consumer options, just like Netflix, Prime, Hulu and the like. The result is that there are now so many players, and so many demands for subscriptions, that consumers are rebelling. They want less quantity and more quality.
“At SSIMWAVE, we want to ensure that ‘better’ also includes improving the overall viewing experience – that’s the mission of our company and the purpose of our technology,” says Rehman.
The execution of that mission falls to Rehman’s team, which has grown rapidly from 7 to 70 people in under 2 years. With 7 Ph.Ds including Professor Zhou Wang, the inventor of SSIM, the company’s lab is well-prepared to continue to apply their world-leading science to the business of video distribution.
“Our people are everything,” he says. “It’s the people here who are making our research real, putting it out into the world, making it more useful.
“In terms of getting the most out of people, I think the interesting nature of the work, solving a complex problem that hasn’t been achieved before, making a difference for the average person, brings a lot of satisfaction and offers a kind of embedded motivation. Our people conquer the difficult. And the outcome is real – we’re all working on a product that people use, that makes their experience better.”
One of the difficulties which the new developments in the industry are bringing is that while the IP-based content origination is enabling better optimization and flexibility in video delivery, the internet is not the best way to deliver seamless video streams.
SSIMWAVE team achieved a task that many experts in the field thought impossible – combining neuroscience, video engineering, AI and machine learning to predict how the viewer actually experiences video content.
“The combination of AI with video is the near future,” states Abdul Rehman
On the playback side, Abdul believes that not only video delivery has changed, but also the display technology has greatly transformed in recent years. Displays with more pixels, higher frame rates are attracting customers and making them accustomed to the high-quality viewing experience. Likewise, the improved accessibility to the content is enabling users to demand more. This is the reason behind the inception of SSIMWAVE. According to the CEO, the biggest change in near to mid-term future is the combination of AI with video. AI integration with video will enable users to verbally interact with the device. People are already experiencing this in smart devices which present the end results in a visual fashion. Abdul thinks smart video has the ability to replace reading and people will prefer to watch a product review rather than reading one.
Fixing Potential Video Quality Issues
As per the current viewers’ demands, video service providers are struggling to deliver the best quality to the end user, because the overall video delivery process tends to decrease the video clarity. Therefore, to ensure that the end users get the best quality video, SSIMWAVE’s technology monitors video traffic as it moves along the delivery chain. It assists the video providers to optimize their video delivery by fixing potential problems. Furthermore, the video is analyzed frame by frame and bit by bit with speed and accuracy.
It also evaluates the complete content to guarantee that the end viewer will be pleased with the final video content whether it’s a live-streaming like live sporting event or a file-based movie. SSIMWAVE’s original motive behind its technology is to make the video creator as impactful as possible for the viewer.
Maintaining the Vision of Delivering Quality Video Output
A video with poor quality is garbage. No one prefers to watch blurred or pixelated videos. The SSIMWAVE CEO and his team know this very well. Thus, they never compromise with their mission to be true to the quality and level of science. “Quality is not negotiable; commercial interests are”, says Abdul. He wants his company to keep its promise that safeguards quality and reliability. He further explains that if a company makes a lot of money with quality compromised products, then the users of such products ultimately compromise with their standards. So instead of going with the masses, SSIMWAVE holds a high standard to deliver quality video content.
Bringing Video Technology Research to Reality with SSIMWAVE’s Team
Employee’s dedicated work towards the continual improvement of offerings plays an important role in the growth of an organization. The people of SSIMWAVE are the supporting beams behind its technology, utilizing the research for real-life issues. Initially, Abdul and the Co-founders of SSIMWAVE worked extensively to bring their research to the industry and the world. Their team further did the major work of transforming the research into a practical product that is tangibly helping the viewers.
The team of SSIMWAVE built the technology which can benefit human beings in their daily lives. They have used accurate measures on the market of quality-of-experience for the viewer. Very few companies have the ability to create such solutions. The team members of SSIMWAVE have applied the science of visualization to the media and entertainment industry that quantified the viewing quality. Likewise, SSIMWAVE clients can measure the quality, control it, and improve it as per their requirements. SSIMWAVE’s technology predicts and validates consumers’ expectations at every step in the delivery chain. It is also essential to specify that, SSIMWAVE’s technology works from the source and ensures the same high-quality viewing experience for every user whether one is watching the video content on a 50-inch TV or using a cellphone.
CEO, Encouraging Innovative Thinking amongst Team Members
Under the leadership of Abdul Rehman, SSIMWAVE has seen six times growth in 2017 and since then, the company is constantly developing its offerings. The CEO has more than thirty top-tier research publications and patents in the areas of image & video processing, quality assessment, compression, streaming, and optimization. Prior to SSIMWAVE, he has worked at leading technology companies including Blackberry, Advanced Micro Devices, and Novel Mobile Radio Research. The highly intelligent CEO holds a Ph.D. in Information and Communication Systems from the University of Waterloo. Currently, he is an official member of the Forbes Technology Council.
When it comes to work satisfaction, Abdul believes the interesting nature of the work that comprises of solving the most complex problems and improving the skills of average members brings a lot of satisfaction. Furthermore, he thinks that a company’s final output or results depend on research. The researcher team should take bold steps and do something new and exciting at every step of the way because risks encourage people to think differently. This strategy helped the team of SSIMWAVE to stay motivated. As a result, they have solved some impossible tasks related to video quality and therefore, the improvements in user experience speak their work. Therefore, it also helped them to develop good relationships with reputed clients from the American Society of Cinematographers. The team of SSIMWAVE is presently working with them to ensure high-quality delivery, preserve artistic intent, and measure degradation of their products.
“The bottom line of the company from a culture perspective is based on research. We should, if we are true to our roots, appreciate innovation. We should appreciate taking bold steps, appreciate taking initiative – doing something new and exciting every step of the way.”
Improving Video Quality with SSIMWAVE’s Assessment Products
Compromised quality can easily hinder the viewing experience that leads to a bad impression against the service provider. Due to increase of new viewing devices and video sources, this issue is a major concern for the providers. To compete with each other, the video providers need to improve their quality of content. But, the question is how they can improve it if they don’t know where they lack? SSIMWAVE addresses this industry need with SSIMPLUSTM Live Monitor software. This software analyzes and informs optimization to the delivery efficiency irrespective of the infrastructure and display. It uses computationally efficient software-based probes to monitor video and audio quality at all five points in the content ecosystem including Source, Encoding and Demux Output, Aggregator Output, Delivery Across the Demarcation Point, and Playout by End-User Devices.
Another comprehensive tool, SSIMPLUSTM VOD Monitor helps the user to know exactly what the end viewers will see on their devices. It also allows the service provider to select, analyze, and optimize the best codec according to the viewer’s device. The software comes with a simple user interface and offers an at-a-glance comparison of multiple video settings and configurations table view. Presently, SSIMWAVE covers over 25 million television viewers in the US and Canada. Another key thing to mention here is that Abdul and his team recently got the PrimeTime Engineering Emmy ® Award for using their breakthrough structural similarity (SSIM) algorithm to enhance the viewing experience in the TV industry.