Apple Maps still needs work if it wants to supplant Google’s offering, but one thing it has gotten right is the use of vector data over raster images. When it comes to downloading new information or zooming in and out, Apple Maps is the superior product. So why not use vectors for say, encoding video, where its space-saving and quality-preserving benefits would be just wonderful? Don’t worry, science is onto it.
A press release over on the University of Bath’s website states that “researchers” at the institution believe their vector-based video codec could bring about the “death of the pixel within the next five years”. While, I’m sure the software engineers behind H.264 will have something to say about that, storing video information as points (and some colour data) rather than frames of pixels sounds like a better approach. Admittedly, psycho-visual optimisations and predictive algorithms have made the codecs we currently have very efficient, but no one is going to say no if an alternative approach yields fruit.
Before you ask, yes, there’s a 30-second video to demonstrate the progress the team has made so far. It features various clips of raw footage followed by encoded footage, either superimposed or side-by-side. As you’ll see, the codec transforms the pixel information into “coloured contours”, which the release states will serve as the basis for refining the codec. It goes on to mention that the team is trying to drum up industry support and then, well, that’s about it, really.
I think it’s unlikely we’ll be laughing at the crudeness of XviD and H.264 by 2017 and rubbing ourselves down with vector codec deliciousness, but I am completely in the love with the idea of downloading crazy tiny videos that scale to every possible resolution and are completely free of compression and motion artefacts.