Digital media providers want to ensure their customers are getting a good quality service. They want to keep subscriptions coming in, and they want the subscriber base to grow. Part of the strategy for ensuring a good service is to monitor the performance of the delivery mechanisms, so that any actual or incipient failures are corrected quickly.
But there is also the quite reasonable desire to test quality as experienced by the user. ‘Quality of Experience’ testing began in the telecoms industry, where telcos needed a way to evaluate what the ‘average subscriber’ would think of the sound quality delivered over the phone. There was no objective measure that could deliver this evaluation – it had to be a subjective assessment.
When the QoE concept was applied to digital media delivery, the MOS-based, subjective methodology was continued, despite the obvious inappropriateness of this approach. MOS mutated into ‘VideoMOS’ and ‘AudioMOS’ and the QoE evaluation became ‘robotized’, with complex algorithmic simulations of those subjective reactions from ‘imperceptible’ to ‘very annoying’, together with scores for factors such as ‘jerkiness’, ‘blurriness’ and ‘blockiness’.
Subjectivity is still at the heart of the concept – even if it’s now a robotic imitation of subjective human reactions. But subjectivity is complex and nuanced. Yet in a robotized QoE ‘subjective’ assessment based on MOS criteria, one would score highly, while the other would be marked way down for ‘blurriness’, scratches and other artifacts, and for its lack of resolution and color.
Bridge Technologies’ Chairman Simen Frostad said: “The VB288 is a mould-breaking product that brings clarity and accuracy to QoE monitoring both for linear services and OTT in an incredibly agile and convenient way. Now, any engineer can easily monitor these services from any connected computer, and benefit from a sophisticated configurable virtual video-wall within a standard web browser
The Objective QoE solution by Bridge Technologies dispenses with the robotised ‘average viewer’ in favour of a QoE evaluation built from empirical testing of factors that diminish the quality of digital media services – such as lost packets, black screens, and freezes. It is no longer necessary to confect an algorithmic ‘opinion’, because you have a completely trustworthy, objective set of data on which to assess – in real time – the quality of each user’s experience.
A key component in Bridge Technologies’ Objective QoE system is the VB288 Content Extractor. This is a server-based system for confidence verification and monitoring of QoE, allowing technical personnel to view each channel as transmitted, from any point within the transmission chain. This visual confirmation of the content being transmitted gives monitoring staff an instant view of any errors signalled by system-generated alerts.
The VB288 has several important advantages over the previous generation of content extraction tools. These include a virtual videowall capability, allowing monitoring staff to oversee large numbers of channels simultaneously, in a compact display area. The virtual videowall is browser-based so the display can be reconfigured flexibly across multiple browser windows. The VB288 has the power to display large numbers of HD quality H.264/MPEG4 and H.265/HEVC channels simultaneously, with integrated graphical alerts based on Objective QoE tests.
The ability to access and view the virtual videowall from any location that has an internet connection makes the VB288 a very flexible and efficient tool for a mobile engineering team.
The VB288 with Objective QoE provides a highly effective validation tool that is easily adaptable to any monitoring strategy, and readily usable by busy engineers on the move. The pioneering use of media-specific metrics for delivers clear and trustworthy QoE evaluation for the first time, and provides far more valuable decision-making support to monitoring staff.
Simen K. Frostad, Chairman of Bridge Technologies