Google To Push Ultra HD (aka 4K) Through YouTube, With VP9.
Next week at CES in Vegas, YouTube will be showing 4K video, based on VP9, a new royalty-free codec that Google has been developing since a while, together with an impressive list of hardware partners including Sony, Panasonic, LG, Samsung, Sharp, Toshiba, as well as chipset makers such as Intel, Broadcom and ARM.
4K on YouTube is not new. It was first announced 4 years ago. The codec used then by Google was VP8. Later Google tried H.269 and now Google is back, with VP9 and this time with the right hardware partners, at a timing where 4K TVs are finding their way into the consumer markets; Digital screens for computers as well as large TV screens for entertainment, education and business.
The 4K format is available on YouTube right now, even though not necessarily in VP9, but on the Youtube player the difference is not perceptible. Youtube will progressively convert existing videos to VP9. If you have a 4K video, just upload it on YouTube and share.
What is Ultra HD or 4K ?
The High Definition format, aka HD or HDTV format, is 1080p, qualifies as 2K resolution, having a horizontal resolution of 1920 pixels, with a vertical resolution of 1080 pixels.
Take the HD as you know, and multiply the overall number of pixels by a bit more than four and you get Ultra HD or UHD or 4K. That is at least a resolution of 3840 pixels × 2160 lines (8.3 megapixels, aspect ratio 16:9). Sometimes even 4096 x 2304.
Can I see how it looks like, now?
Sure. If you have a monitor large enough or a large screen TV, you can see the difference here: This channel has some nice 4K samples. Make sure you select the 4K resolution.
When are we going to Hangout in 4K?
Not tomorrow. Probably not even the day after tomorrow 🙂
Real-time streaming requires a lot of bandwidth, and well dimensionned servers globally, of course. Although Google Hangouts is the most advanced web conferencing platform in regards with the number of simultaneous streams and the resolution, more advanced than WebEx, GoToMeeting, Adobe Connect or Microsoft Lync, it’s only since a couple of months that Hangouts got HD, the 720p (which is not even full HD). The Hangouts definitions today are at best 1280 x 720.
Theoretically 4K requires streaming 4 times more data than the actual HD, but according to Google, the VP9 codec only requires twice more bandwidth for real-time streaming. That means still at least 15-30Mb upload speed, not to mention the need for a 4K camera.
That’s why I don’t see Business Hangouts in 4K before 2015, but you never know. My 2 cents!