November 22, 2012

Video transmission over Internet – well established and ever more popular in Germany

A brilliant key technology for unbounded video transmission

Videos now account for over half of the world's total data traffic on the internet – and there are no signs of this trend leveling out. Germans too now see Internet-based video transmission as a normal part of their everyday lives they wouldn't want to be without. This was shown in a recent representative study1, commissioned by the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute (HHI) to mark the nomination of the research team around Prof. Thomas Wiegand at HHI for the Deutscher Zukunftspreis (German Future Award) given by the President of Germany. The team were nominated for their work on the H.264/MPEG-4-AVC video compression standard which now figures in over one billion end devices across the world.

Over half of those surveyed stated that regular viewing of videos on the internet was part of their everyday lives, something they now take for granted. 52 percent of respondents watched at least one video a week on the internet, while 39 percent watched one to three videos a week, and 13 percent viewed a video every single day. When it comes to the "digital natives" group – the generation that grew up with the internet – a significant 29 percent of them said that they couldn't imagine what a day would be like without video streaming.

In a trend that cuts across all income groups and levels of education, Germans' viewing preferences are mainly for short entertaining videos of the kind shown on YouTube and Facebook. In second place came documentaries and news programs of the type streamed by media libraries. Long gone by are the days when the older generation used television as the sole source of their news: no less than 48 percent of the over 60s age group said they watched video-over-internet to keep up to date with current events.

Over 80 percent of all respondents thought that video streaming was also an important social factor

The high speed of video transmission was considered as another important factor. The survey showed that 81 percent of respondents consider that, apart from the private uses they make of it, video-streaming is highly relevant to society as a whole. Over half of Germans (52 percent) see its primary role as contributing to better networking through video telephony and video chat – in their private and professional lives. In second place comes the political role played by internet videos: events of major political impact can be flashed round the world at lightening speeds, and thus lend a political and social dimension to the pure technical development of video-streaming. One in ten respondents was aware of the key social role video streaming plays in the service sector: modern applications like recent developments in telemedicine and telelearning can be used around the world and are already bringing about radical changes that will transform the face of medicine and education.

Video Compression Standard H.264/MPEG4-AVC: a brilliant key technology for billions of users

Without the revolutionary key technology H.264/MPEG4-AVC, high-speed video transmission on the internet, and the global spread of video-streaming it has given rise to would be simply unthinkable. The innovative video compression standard H.264/MPEG4-AVC is a standardized technique for compressing data volume in transmission of video (video streaming) in the internet. Data from a variety of sources – such as cameras, computers or Blu-Ray Discs – can be compressed during internet transmission and fully restored for playback on a broad array of end devices with no loss of quality. The compression method enables not just internet transmission but a huge range of other applications as well including high definition TV, 3D TV, movies on demand, videos on the web, Blu-Ray, video conferencing, and video-based security and medical technology.

The Deutscher Zukunftspreis award will be presented by the German President on 28 November in Berlin.

1 Commissioned by the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute (HHI), the survey was carried out by GfK SE, Germany's largest market research institute, in the period from 8-13 November 2012. The representative survey group was composed of 1,045 private online users (male and female) from the age of 14 upwards in the Federal Republic of Germany. The overall population count is approx. 47,413,000 persons (Germans and EU-nationals).