Ever tried streaming a video when everyone else is watching something too? It is pretty frustrating, however, it looks like things are going to change now. A group of researchers from the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT has come up with a system to redesign bandwidth allocation.
Compared to traditional Wi-Fi protocols that divide the available bandwidth among the number of users, the Minerva protocol works by checking how a video is affected if played in low quality. The system analyzes the videos to calculate the bandwidth allocation required for faster streaming, keeping the video quality in mind.
How it Works
Basically, it assigns bandwidth based on the user’s video streaming needs. Minerva prioritizes Wi-Fi connections based on the video quality/type.
For example, if a cartoon channel and an HD sports channel are being streamed on the same Wi-Fi, traditionally divided bandwidth will adversely affect the sports channel since videos with a lot of movement in them require more bandwidth. The cartoon channel, on the other hand, will be fine.
Minerva, on the other hand, will assign more bandwidth to the sports channel, reducing buffering as the cartoon channel won’t be affected much if it is assigned a lower bandwidth.
While testing at MIT, Minerva was able to reduce the streaming time by nearly 50% and improved the video quality for one-third of the users. The experience was similar to going from 720p to 1080p.
This method of bandwidth allocation is not only beneficial for families or domestic use but will also change the way services like Hulu and Netflix work since they have to serve a large number of users. The same principle can also be applied to larger regions.
It’s only a matter of time until Minerva or something similar becomes mainstream.