2022 ended on a very good note for the Czech NREN (CESNET) Networking Application Technologies department, headed by Dr. Sven Ubik. Sven and his team received the Industry award from IDEA StatiCa, awarded for company innovation as part of the Czech Head award, the country’s highest scientific acknowledgement. The team was awarded for their solution for video and audio transmission via a computer network across large distances with exceptionally low time latency, named Modular Video Transmission Platform (MVTP).
We interviewed Sven to find out more about how the technology works and how it can help artists and musicians perform without delays and interruptions.
Sven, what does this award mean to you and your team?
Our MVTP technology won the Czech Head Award in the Industry category, which is awarded annually for the most significant technological innovation created in our country in the last few years based on our own research and development. It is a great recognition of the work of our team and of the CESNET association. We also consider it a commitment to help make the best possible use of this technology in practice.
Can you explain in your own words what MVTP technology is and where it can be used?
It is an electronic device for network transmission of audio and video signals with very low added latency. Transmitter and receiver together need less than 3 milliseconds to send and receive audio and video signals including compression and decompression. This is achieved by implementing device functions inside a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA), using low-latency codecs and proper receiver buffer management.
Therefore, it can be used for applications that are latency-critical, such as remote collaboration in the performing arts. Even with the added delay of network propagation across Europe, musicians can comfortably play together between countries over a network. The technology has already received the Creative Europe/Europa Nostra award in 2020 for its contribution to classical music collaboration across Europe.
How does this benefit GÉANT’s community of artists and musicians?
Some artists and musicians are already using various tools for remote collaboration. The Network Performing Arts Production Workshop (NPAPW), organised by GÉANT and Internet2, is an annual venue for exchanging experiences in this field. We hope that MVTP technology will help to make this collaboration easier for artists and more attractive for audiences. MVTP transmissions are not only very fast, but the image quality is also suitable for HD or 4K television production.
“Communication among musicians across Europe is important for sharing various interpretations and enriching experience. It is about a part of European intangible cultural heritage. This opens up a wide range of possibilities. For instance, you can organise remote admission exams, which may improve the quality of the Erasmus scheme, as it eliminates the current practice of sending audio recordings, and applicants do not need to spend money on long-distance travel.”
Sven Ubik, From CESNET press release
What advice would you give to a musician who would like to start using MVTP?
You need to obtain the MVTP device, which is small and easily portable, typically through your home academy or institution. Or you can contact CESNET directly. We also help organise distributed concerts across Europe. We are particularly keen to contribute, usually free of charge, to benefit events to make them more attractive and help raise more funds for a good cause. We would be happy for artists and organisers to contact us with their questions.
What are your next projects or next steps in the development of hardware and software for audio-video communication?
We want to simplify multi-point (three or more locations) events, which are now typically implemented as a set of two-point connections. We also want to bring MVTP technology into the homes of artists and students by creating a lightweight, low-cost version that we hope will work in upcoming 5G mobile networks.
For more information about MVTP, please visit http://mvtp.cesnet.cz or contact CESNET Network Application Technologies department.