Niels Laukens (VRT)


As a telecommunications engineer, Niels Laukens has an academic background in modern telecommunication systems, including IP-multicast, cryptographic and other technologies. His master thesis on unicast distribution control for multicast transmissions, was awarded on several occasions. During his first job as a networking and security expert, he got hands-on experience with the possibilities and limitations of real-life IP-networks.

Currently, as a senior researcher in the R&D department of VRT, he works on broadband distribution issues. His main focus is on the backend of the distribution chain, encompassing encoding and server software, and back-end architecture design and development. Recent projects include adaptive streaming technologies and scalable server architecture.




Adaptive and SVC streaming


Adaptive streaming is a popular, and rather elegant technology to adapt the audio-video streams provided over the internet dynamically to the users' needs. But the terminology used can be a bit confusing, especially as manufactures have implemented the concept in slightly different ways, with slightly different names. Senior researcher Niels Laukens (VRT Medialab) will give a brief tutorial to clarify what adaptive streaming is and how it is implemented.


One of the confusions addressed, is the question if adaptive streaming is really streaming or merely downloading. The definition problem not only has to do with technical parameters, but also involves legal aspects, as some rightholders don't like the thought of users storing their content, though they would be ok with the same content simply 'passing through' users' devices.


The implementations of adaptive streaming differ amongst the main vendors (Adobe, Apple and Microsoft), but they have enough in common to provide professional users with the opportunity to optimise their back-end infrastructure. That basically involves encoding content only once, but rewrapping it according to the needs of the different platforms.