SK Telecom to debut 360-degree live streaming VR platform at MWC

sk telecom virtual reality

SK Telecom says that it will unveil its 360-degree virtual-reality live broadcast platform at the Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona next week.

The 360 Adaptive VR Live Streaming Platform is an end-to-end broadcast system that enables users to produce and livestream ultra-high-definition (UHD) 360-degree VR video with low latency using a 360-degree camera.

The platform produces UHD VR content through its differentiated stitching technology. When it comes to creating 360-degree visuals, it is important to seamlessly stitch multiple videos or images taken by the 360 camera. Based on multi-band blending algorithm, the platform stitches images in multi layers to produce a seamless 360 VR content without any distortion. In terms of frame rate, it supports 60 frames per second (FPS), which SK Telecom claims is 2x higher image quality than the competition.

The 360 Live VR platform also significantly reduces the bandwidth required for transmitting 360 video data. SK Telecom says that generally, live streaming of 360 VR video requires up to six times greater bandwidth than traditional broadcasting. However, SK Telecom says its platform can reduce the size of the 360 VR video file by 35%, without compromising the image quality thanks to dynamic tiling.

SK Telecom also said it can reduce latency from over 20 seconds to less than five seconds by using “T Live Streaming”, the operator’s proprietary real-time streaming technology that was developed last year by customizing MMT (MPEG Media Transport) for a mobile network environment.

360 VR Live also provides 3D audio based on binaural rendering technology that recognizes in real time the user’s location, including the direction of his/her eyes, and provides sounds consistent with the user’s location.

For instance, while watching live travelling content, the volume of sounds – e.g. background noise, voices, etc. – changes according to what the user is looking at. So when the user looks at the tour guide, the voice of the guide will be heard loud and clear. Then, when she turns her head to the right to enjoy the scenery, the voice will be heard louder in her left ear than right ear. When the user looks behind her, the voice will be smaller for both ears.

SK Telecom says it plans to commercialize 360 VR Live initially in the enterprise market for broadcasting companies and social networking sites. The company will also open its API to enable individuals and small content developers to create and offer 360 VR Live services.

“Immersive live VR broadcasting will become widespread in the 5G era,” said Park Jin-hyo, senior vice president and head of SK Telecom’s Network Technology R&D Center. “SK Telecom will focus on building a new media ecosystem by joining hands with diverse partners.”

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