Artificial intelligence apps, media interfaces and cyber security were among the most popular topics covered in the technical papers submitted to IBC, writes Dr Nick Lodge.

When it began 50 years ago, IBC was solely a technical convention managed by the Institution of Electrical Engineers (now the IET).

Nick lodge

The conference was overseen by an international committee of broadcasting engineers having both professional and academic interests, and it set high standards for the novelty and quality of the papers which would be presented.

The selection process was very competitive - I still remember the thrill of having my own first paper accepted by IBC, way back in 1986!

Over the years the conference has grown and diversified enormously but at its heart is still the Advances in Technology stream where papers on the very latest concepts from the media technology research labs are presented and discussed.

We still have a team of acknowledged experts who select and peer-review all the candidate papers, we still publish our presented papers in a formal ‘proceedings’ in the citable academic literature and we still have strong competition to deliver a paper - although now the competition is even tougher.

IBC2017 The Advances in Technology stream will cover a host of subjects including HEVC, artificial intelligence and high dynamic range 

This year we received a record 506 synopses from authors across the world who wanted to publish a paper at IBC.

Our 14 technical sessions allow us to hear papers from about 60 speakers and we can accommodate a further 10 who will present their work on large interactive screens in our multimedia presentation gallery.

So you can see, there is only room for the best contributions.

Collectively, the submitted synopses provide a unique database which gives us a privileged insight into where the industry is concentrating its development resources and this helps us to target the conference programme at the most strategically interesting technologies.

It’s a bit like our own small-scale version of big data.

So what have we learned this year? Here are a few headlines.

The biggest surprise is the enormous growth of applications involving artificial intelligence.

The availability of commercial software and access to a variety of large data sources, has meant that many organisations are embracing AI, not only for technological purposes but also: journalism, autonomous commentary generation, metadata creation and business strategy. Is your job safe? We shall be exploring the fascinating world of AI.

Intelligent communication 

Another technology which we have followed at IBC for many years is media interfaces - the way you interact with your television or connected devices.

Thanks to the publicity generated by Alexa, many companies are focussing attention on speech and other intelligent ways of communicating with media products.

How would you like a remote control which can identify you within two seconds just by the way you pick it up? This is one of the new developments we shall hear about.

Security in its many forms is never far from the news these days and was the subject of many paper synopses offered to us.

We have designed an informative and diverse security session which begins with a tutorial examination of the threats and defences of cyber security.

Of course, new developments in the fast-moving sphere of VR and AR are an essential ingredient of an exciting media technology conference stream.

Mg 8485

We shall explore the research that is going on in the standards organisations to map, compress and convey 360-degree images.

We shall look at the use of camera arrays to improve depth perception by reproducing parallax.

And what happens when social media meets VR?

Find out how we may soon be meeting our friends and business associates in cyberspace.

Object-based media, the idea that a service can be conveyed as a segmented collection of objects and reconstructed intelligently in a version which meets the specific requirements of the viewer, has been quietly advancing for several years.

It is now the subject of a European research initiative and we shall be examining its potential. How can its production overhead be minimised? How might it be conveyed? Join us for an insightful examination of this exciting concept.

Video compression is an enormously complex technology with a profound economic impact on storage and transmission across every delivery medium. The world has recently seen the completion of the remarkable HEVC standard and many wonder if there are sufficient tools left in the box to achieve a further quantum reduction in video bit-rates.

Well, the experts are up-beat about it. We’ve invited them to tell us about the future of post-HEVC compression and we can’t wait to hear from them.

I’ve saved a new and exciting development to last: this year we’ve introduced headline technical addresses, where we have invited world-acknowledged technical experts to talk, in a dedicated slot, about their work and their fields of expertise.

Our first speaker will be Dr Yukihiro Nishida of NHK, known for his senior engineering role in Super Hi-Vision and his position as Chairman of ITU-R Study Group 6 on the Future of Broadcasting. He will tell us about the work of SG-6 and share his forward-looking views.

Our second address will be delivered by Professor Matthew Lombard of Temple University in the US.

Matthew is a world expert on the psychology of VR, in particular the area known as ‘presence’ which explores the fundamental issue of why we really do feel that we are present in the recreated world that we are experiencing.

Understanding the psychology will show us where to focus design resources as we engineer better experiences. Matthew is president and co-founder of the International Society for Presence Research. Do not miss his address.

50 years since it began, IBC remains the world’s most informative and influential conference in professional media technology and we are proud that this is reflected in the huge number of technologists and strategists who seek to contribute to our programme.

I think that we are experiencing a technology boom at present and that this evident in the exciting sessions that we have planned. I look forward to seeing you in Amsterdam!

Dr Nick Lodge is Executive Producer of the Advances in Technology stream