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Can Artificial Intelligence End Your Video Buffering Problems?

Roshan Dwivedi Published on : 29 June 2018
AI for Video Buffering Problems

Access to high-speed data and smartphone is disrupting many industries. Interestingly, high-speed data is the single most dominant factor behind the rising content consumption pattern. Tapping into this massive content appetite, online streaming giants such as Netflix, Viu, Balaji Telefilms, Amazon Prime video have disrupted the broadcasting, entertainment & media industry and their long-time rulers – cable TV channels and film industries!

But, the joy of watching a YouTube video, streaming media, or playing games can quickly turn into a nightmare with the starting of buffering. Buffering not only ruins the experience for viewers, but also robs advertisers of revenues as viewers tune out. This leads to technical hassle for streaming services which have to engineer solutions.

With more than 500 million hours of video streamed each day, the audience is most likely to face a ton of buffering issues. It is quite frustrating to watch an animated buffer circle that doesn’t look like stopping for the next few minutes!


What is buffering, and what causes video buffering?

Imagine you sit down to watch your favorite YouTube video, and it starts playing and stops after a few seconds. The dotted circle starts spinning. This happens when there is not much bandwidth to stream a video, and the video had to build up enough bandwidth before it resumes playing.

While streaming a video or audio from the internet, buffering refers to downloading a definite amount of data before the video starts playing. Having an advance supply of video frames or audio samples in RAM prevents disruption in video plays even if there are some delays in transmission while the video is being played.

There are a lot of reasons that cause videos to play inconsistently. There might be issues with the hosting site, or with the broadband router, connection to the computer, and hardware/software of the PC. It also includes issues with firewalls, anti-virus software, graphics drivers, and browser plug-ins.


Is Artificial Intelligence the solution for video buffering?

In a world of autonomous car, robot-assisted helping hand, and AI assistants, no one should be kept waiting for the video to buffer. Finding a solution for the video buffering problem thus  becomes imperative. Among the solutions to put an end to this slow load time is an innovative Artificial Intelligence system which can optimize video streaming process, thus, making the process more reliable.

Currently, we stand on the brink of a fourth Industrial revolution. Artificial Intelligence or AI is the intelligence demonstrated by machines for performing tasks. It is a specialized section of computer science which focuses on creating intelligent machines that think, react and work like humans. Some of the activities computers with artificial intelligence are built for includes problem solving, learning, analyzing, speech recognition, and much more. AI is a vast field in itself, and it encompasses a wide spectrum of technologies such as Machine Learning, Automated Intelligence System, Deep learning, Neural Network, Computational Argumentation, and Multi-agent Systems to solve problems that currently seem impossible.

Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have come up with a unique methodology to solve video buffering once for all using Automated Intelligence System. The AI system, dubbed as Pensive uses a neural network to intelligently calculate the most effective times to swap between Adaptive Bitrate streaming algorithm (ABR Algorithm). Depending on different network conditions, Pensive uses machine learning to pick up appropriate algorithm, which allows it to switch between buffer-based algorithms.

The AI system can not only select quality, but also can make corresponding choices through automation and regular monitoring. This solution will allow users to customize their own streaming experiences based on what they want to prioritize. Leveraging AI for solving video buffering is an active attempt to give users a more engaging viewing experience, minus any interruptions. Besides, it also helps in saving bandwidth. Finally, streamers would be able to say goodbye to that dotted circular circle.

Read more about Online Streaming & Artificial Intelligence: A New Era for OTT on this Muvi Blog


What’s next?

While AI has the potential to end video buffers, AI has much more to offer to media and broadcasting industry.

  • AI can be used to stream high resolution Virtual Reality games and films and provide an immersive gaming and viewing experience over Virtual Reality.
  • Emerging applications of AI in media & broadcast industry include media recommendation engines and video image recognition that can convert automatically recognized images into metadata.
  • Artificial Intelligence can be used to provide curated content based on user preference, information, context and watch history. Through Ad-targeting method, AI can be used to ensure video content is “safe” and not offensive in nature.
  • Artificial Intelligence can help in improving user experiences such as scene analysis to identify least disruptive points for placing ads, or using dialogue analysis for on-the-fly captioning, and AI-powered quality control for checking color bars and automating actions.

Such innovations are all set to deliver bigger benefits over time that will not only save industry professionals time, and money, but will also help them improve their efficiency. This is really a stepping stone in seeing what can be achieved through Artificial Intelligence.

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Written by: Roshan Dwivedi

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