VQM ® ITS Video Quality Research
Program Goals
  • Development and dissemination of digital video quality measurement technology.

  • Journal papers and National/International video quality measurement standards.

  • Technical input to development of U.S. policies on advanced video technologies.

  • A national objective and subjective digital video quality testing laboratory.

Digital video systems are replacing all existing analog video systems and making possible the creation of many new telecommunication services (e.g., direct broadcast satellite, digital television, high definition television, video teleconferencing, telemedicine, e-commerce, Internet video) that are becoming an essential part of the U.S. and world economy. Objective metrics for measuring the video performance of these systems are required by government and industry for specification of system performance requirements, comparison of competing service offerings, network maintenance, and optimization of the use of limited network resources such as transmission bandwidth. The goal of the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS) Video Quality Research Project is to develop the required technology for assessing the performance of these new digital video systems and to actively transfer this technology to other government agencies, end-users, standards bodies, and the U.S. telecommunications industry. The increases in quality of service made possible with the new measurement technology benefit both the end-users and the providers of telecommunication services and equipment.

To be accurate, digital video quality measurements have to be based on perceived picture quality and have to be made in-service using the actual video being sent by the users of the digital video system. The primary reason for these requirements is that the performance of digital video systems is variable and depends upon the dynamic characteristics of both the input video (e.g., spatial detail, motion) and the digital transmission system (e.g., bit-rate, error-rate). Click here for more reasons why new video quality metrics are needed.

To address the above problems, ITS developed a new measurement paradigm that is based upon extraction and comparison of low bandwidth perception-based features (e.g., edges, motion) that can be easily communicated throughout the broadcast network. This measurement paradigm has received three U.S. patents, was adopted as an ANSI standard in 1996 (ANSI T1.801.03-1996) and revised in 2003 (ANSI T1.801.03-2003), was included in two International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Recommendations in 2004 (ITU-T Recommendation J.144 and ITU-R Recommendation BT.1683), and is being used by organizations worldwide. This measurement paradigm is known internationally as "reduced-reference" video quality measurements (see International Telecommunications Union, Telecommunication Standardization Sector, ITU-T Recommendation J.143, "User requirements for objective perceptual video quality measurements in digital cable television"). This ITS-developed methodology has been extensively tested on a wide range of video systems and bit rates including video teleconferencing, MPEG (1, 2, and 4), DS3 (45 Mb/sec), as well as analog video systems.