Annodex, a New Way to Work with Video
12 October 2006
Greetings again, to Market Clarity’s customers and friends!
At some stage, the deployment of new VoIP services is bound to slow down, but it isn’t happening yet. We have just completed another update to the Market Clarity Aussie VoIP List, and we can now say that the number of companies offering residential, business, or wholesale VoIP services in the Australian market has now passed 220.
If you’re a VoIP provider, please visit the list to make sure your listing is correct. If there are any corrections to be made, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!
Also in this issue:
- Infrastructure Database – Market Clarity Covers All of Australia
- 3G Snapshot – Australian Subscribers and Providers
- Feature Article – Annodex, a New Way to Work with Video
- IPv6 – ISOC-AU / DCITA IPv6 Readiness Survey
- Content Creation
- Dates for your Diary
At Market Clarity, we are constantly expanding and maintaining our databases of the Australian telecommunications industry.
One of the key activities of the last nine months has been to build an inventory of Australia’s telecommunications transmission infrastructure, covering such diverse technologies as DSLAM deployment, fixed wireless broadband base stations, HFC networks, mobile base station locations, access fibre, long-haul fibre, and point-to-point microwave systems.
To this we have added extensive geographic analysis and socio-economic data sourced from ABS Census information, creating a highly-granular database relating infrastructure to population.
What’s this mean to our customers?
Imagine you’re considering a fixed wireless broadband deployment. Our database can tell you all about your target geographical markets, answering questions like:
- How many households would my base station cover?
- How many ISPs have DSLAMs serving the same area?
- What are my backhaul options?
Alternatively, you might be considering entering the market for fibre in new housing estates. Market Clarity can tell you whether nearby developers are already providing local loop development and whether there’s a competitive backhaul market in your target market.
This competitive intelligence will help you, our customers, reduce the risk in any new infrastructure deployment. Instead of working in the dark, you can build a business plan confident that you understand who your competitors will be — before you enter a new region.
Information held in the Market Clarity Transmission Infrastructure Database includes:
- Infrastructure by Type — DSLAMs, Fibre, Fixed Wireless Broadband, Mobile, and Fixed Microwave
- Infrastructure by Owner — Ownership information for each type of infrastructure
- Infrastructure by Location — The location of all infrastructure can be queried by ABS statistical division and statistical subdivision, and by postcode. Where appropriate (for example, with fixed wireless base stations), this is supplemented with latitude and longitude.
- Demography by Location — Relating ABS demographic data with telecommunications infrastructure.
Hot on the heels of the Telstra “Next G” launch, Market Clarity is pleased to announce the release of a presentation-style report, designed to give customers an up-to-date snapshot of the Australian 3G market.
Based on interviews with executives from Hutchison, Optus, Telstra, and Vodafone conducted on Friday 6 October, The Australian 3G Market: Facts and Figures for 2H 2006 provides:
- Subscriber numbers for June, September and December 2006
- 3G Base stations and population coverage by Operator in October 2006
- 3G Handset availability by Operator in October 2006
- 3G Network Speed by Operator: October 2006 and July 2007
- A comparison of Theoretical to Likely End-Users Network Speeds by Technology
The Australian 3G Market: Facts and Figures for 2H 2006 is a 14-page presentation-style report costing $995 plus GST. It includes 10 Research Figures.
One of the great pleasures of my professional life is to serve on the steering committee of CeNTIE, a role that keeps me in contact with the very best in Australian advanced networking research. At a recent CeNTIE meeting, I had the good fortune to hear from Dr Sylvia Pfeiffer, currently on unpaid secondment to a venture capital firm looking to commercialise CSIRO’s Annodex technology. Here, we explain what Annodex is — and why it’s exciting — Shara Evans.
In the early days of the World Wide Web, there were only a couple of hundred Web servers in the world, and most people could find what they were looking for easily enough. But imagine trying to navigate today’s Internet of billions of pages without being able to use a search engine.
Today, there are only a couple of hundred servers providing public hosting for video content. People can survive the video experience without needing overly-sophisticated search technologies. But how will users of the future navigate video content? Can video content replicate the success of text-based content if it’s too hard to index, search, access, and link?
Around seven years ago, Dr Pfeiffer and a CSIRO colleague, Conrad Parker, decided to tackle these problems. The resulting technologies are Annodex and a related markup language called CMML (the Continuous Media Markup Language). Figure 1 shows Annodex content playing in a browser plug-in under Firefox.
Figure 1: The Annodex Firefox Extension
Annodex is a file encapsulation format which interleaves the time-continuous data (such as, for example, a video) with CMML markup, developed by CSIRO in collaboration with the open source Xiph community.
But in a world already replete with video environments — Windows Media, RealMedia, Apple’s QuickTime and Adobe’s Flash, as well as various hosted offerings from Google, YouTube and many others — why would the world need a new environment?
CSIRO believes there are two problems that need to be solved: users need to be able to post video content on the Internet in a way that can be indexed and searched for just like text content; once content is available, other users need a way to find it; and when they find it, all users need a universal playback that isn’t tied to one software license.
Annodex works with the open source Ogg Theora video codec, marked up under CMML, and encapsulates files in such a way that the video and the markup are interleaved with each other (much as text is interleaved with markup under HTML).
Being text, the CMML can be indexed (for example, by a text search engine like Google), and because it’s interleaved with the video, it can provide time-aligned annotations to the content. Hence Annodex with CMML go further than merely providing the ability to index a property such as the video file name: they can allow users to index the sub-sections of a video, such as finding a small section within a published presentation.
Similar capabilities already exist, of course — but the vast majority are confined to proprietary formats. CMML is designed to pull things together for video in much the same way as RSS does for the text-based Internet.
For example, two students at the University of Santa Cruz, in California, have created an application called Metavid. Metavid records US Senate sessions from live TV, including the closed captions. The closed captions are stored in a database, and made available for Annodex-based searches on Metavid (see Figure 2, below).
Figure 2: Metavid.org Provides Search on US Senate Sessions Using Annodex
CMML is also an interactive technology. It isn’t restricted to providing index capabilities — it also allows hyperlinks to be created from within videos. The online Internet-based video experience could become vastly different from watching TV or a DVD — and search engine ranking algorithms could be extended to video as well.
This interactivity leads towards the kind of applications which could provide commercial opportunities based on Annodex. For example, CSIRO has developed a wiki-style Web application, CMMLWiki (illustrated in Figure 3, below). This supports the interactive creation of annotations, live on the Web, for uploaded content. Acting as a publishing environment for video collections, the open source CMMLWiki needs only be uploaded to a Web server to provide its service, similar to Web content management systems such as Drupal.
Figure 3: CMMLWiki Provides a Clip Table of the Video for Interactive Annotation
Online Video Hosting
This could be used to provide novel online video hosting services, a market already attracting VC funding in the US. For example, Veotag recently received $US5.5 million to create similar services.
Other opportunities for commercialisation are in the graphical authoring tool space and the mobile content delivery space. CSIRO has created proprietary IP for both the Windows environment and the mobile environment. Figure 4shows DMTagger, a graphical authoring tool for Annodex running under Windows, while Figure 5 shows the mobile video search and browsing application for Symbian, AIDA.
Figure 4: DMTagger — The Graphical Authoring Tool for Annodex on MS Windows
Ultimately, however, commercialisation will depend on whether end users like Annodex. For users, CSIRO’s aim is twofold: to give them a platform with an open codec, so they are not tied to a single software vendor’s licenses; and to make publishing easy, so they don’t need to sign away their copyrights to use a commercial video hosting service.
Figure 5: AIDA — The Mobile Video Search and Browsing Application for Symbian
CSIRO has also produced a plug-in for Internet Explorer and Firefox, while Spanish company Fluendo has created a Java Applet called Cortado. And with the right opportunities, CSIRO hopes to work with companies that can move fast in this market to help commercialise other opportunities around the Annodex environment.
The Internet Society (ISOC-AU) has recently been working on a new project, funded by DCITA, in a consortium with auDA, AEEMA and BuildersNet, to examine Australian readiness to implement IPv6. As part of this exercise, organisational network planning people (IT/Systems/Network manager or architect), are asked to complete our Australian IPv6 readiness survey at the IPv6 website.
Market Clarity’s combination of technical expertise, market knowledge, and vendor independence makes us an ideal partner for companies needing to position themselves as in touch with technology and service trends.
We can provide fixed price quotations for content creation and/or sponsored research projects such as:
- Technology case studies
- Newsletter / marketing communications content
- Customised primary market research projects
To see some of our recent custom content projects, visit our Resources page.
Shara Evans, CEO of Market Clarity, will be speaking at:
- Equinix Peering Forum – 8 November, Sydney
- ATUG 2006 Communication Options for SMEs Forum — November, Sydney
- Communications Alliance 2006 VoIP Forum — 13 December, Sydney
We will post further details on these engagements as they come to hand.
For details on recent events, visit our Events page.
Market Clarity presents new research at industry events. Research papers from our speaking engagements are available for purchase.