The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) announced that it has sponsored the development of a test tool for high dynamic range (HDR) display applications that evaluates the visually lossless performance of video compression codecs. The test tool serves as an extension to the Psychophysics Toolbox (PTB), a free software platform widely used in vision and neuroscience research. While it was designed to serve as an analysis tool for VESA’s video compression codec development, the test tool is available for use by all display and graphics companies as well as universities for research and development. Potential applications include HDR testing for augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) headsets as well as high-performance gaming where visually lossless compression of HDR and wide color gamut content enables support for significantly higher resolutions and refresh rates, as well as for multiple display configurations.
Video compression has become increasingly popular in enabling improved performance of consumer display products. For compression to be consumer acceptable, it must be visually lossless, meaning that it must be indistinguishable from uncompressed video. Over the last several years, VESA has supported research in assessing the visually lossless performance of video compression, which has played an important role in the development and refinement of VESA’s video compression codecs — the Display Stream Compression (DSC) and VESA Display Compression-M (VDC-M) standards. With HDR content and display support now becoming widespread, the ability to test the performance of HDR video compression is critical in optimizing compression standards for HDR support as well as the products designed around those standards. Existing video compression evaluation tools are not optimized to support HDR data, which motivated VESA to seek new test tools.
According to Bill Lempesis, executive director at VESA, “As an international standards organization, VESA has a reputation of providing the highest and most efficient video standards for the display industry. We saw a clear need for a new test tool for HDR video compression, and invested in the development of one that could be made available to our more than 300-strong company members so that they could further develop and optimize their HDR products. Since Display Stream Compression is integrated into our latest DisplayPort and Embedded DisplayPort (eDP) standards, this new test tool can also contribute to the capability of DisplayPort and eDP to carry ultra-fast, ultra-high-resolution video — helping our members get the most bandwidth possible out of their products.”
“Since Psychtoolbox was first introduced by Denis Pelli and David Brainard, and advanced by Mario Kleiner, it has been an indispensable tool for vision scientists around the world,” said Laurie M. Wilcox, professor, Department of Psychology, York University, Toronto. “Mario’s most recent release of the Psychtoolbox, which was instigated and funded by VESA, will do more than enhance the graphics capabilities of Matlab/Octave software; it will open a wide range of opportunities for scientific advancement by facilitating the reliable display of HDR images and videos with the precision and control needed for experimental investigation. For example, in a collaborative project with Robert Allison, which was funded by VESA, this extension to the PsychToolbox will be used to reliably control HDR display properties to evaluate the impact of compression artifacts on stereoscopic video sequences for AR/VR.”
Medical Innovations Incubator GmbH, which supports early-stage companies in the area of life sciences with know-how, methods and funding, became the new home for Psychtoolbox in 2019 and hired Mario Kleiner, principal developer of Psychtoolbox, to continue its development. “Bringing life-like imagery and video to Psychtoolbox is a key aspect of vision research,” said Kleiner. “This extension leverages existing Psychtoolbox functions that are coupled through the Vulkan graphics and compute API to enable cutting-edge, real-time 3D imaging that brings a Windows 10 or Linux cross-platform solution into reality. This development was made possible by support from VESA, and I want to thank them for backing this effort.”
The new video compression test tool for HDR displays is available for download at https://www.psychtoolbox.net