3D movies on your phone (and secure apps, too)

Experiment in 3D video turns out to have wide implications for mobile apps

German researchers have combined a video-coding and data-compression technique with LTE cell-phone networks to create a system that could display three-dimensional images and video on 3G LTE cell phones. More important than the critically cool potential of real 3-D on cell-phone monitors is the potential for good bandwidth- and quality-of-service management for cellular connections the researchers built into their video system.

At a session on "adaptive video transmission over wireless" at the GSMA World Congress in Barcelona in February, researchers demonstrated a system that can create multiple, discrete streams of data through a single cell-phone connection, reserving some for 2-D images, some for 3-D, or some for any other application users want, according to spokesmen for the group from Fraunhofer Heinrich-Hertz Institut in Berlin.

The system monitors available bandwidth and adapts to maximize the efficiency of the connection. It uses the H.264/AVC HD video format and Multiview Video Coding (MVC) 3-D format, which "packs together to two images needed for the stereoscopic 3-D effect" while reducing total size of the films by 40 percent, according to Thomas Schierl, spokesman for the group.

MVC is the bit that allows for the creation of independent streams of data, but the same capability can be used to create discrete tunnels for any kind of data, not just video, including highly secure streams – making it possible to do a lot more with cell phones than just watch movies.

Kevin Fogarty writes about enterprise IT for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @KevinFogarty.

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