New standard for e-health devices and the close of the ITU-T H.264 development cycle

H264-5 infographic 10-01In a move signifying an important milestone for global e-health standardization, ITU members have reached first-stage approval (‘consent’) on the transposition of Continua Health Alliance’s Design Guidelines into Recommendation ITU-T H.810 “Interoperability design guidelines for personal health systems”. Consent has also been reached on the final extensions to ITU’s Primetime Emmy award winning video codec, Recommendation ITU-T H.264, concluding 10 years of ongoing work since the standard was first approved in 2003.

These achievements come as part of the output of a meeting of ITU-T Study Group 16 (Multimedia) in Geneva, 28 October to 8 November 2013, at which 18 texts found consent and 5 were approved.

Continua Health Alliance is an international non-profit industry organization enabling end-to-end, plug-and-play connectivity of devices and services for personal health management and healthcare delivery. The Continua Design Guidelines (CDG) embodied by ITU-T H.810 have garnered strong industry support and their formalization as an ITU-T Recommendation will stimulate their global adoption, improving device interoperability and paving the way for complementary e-health standards.

Recommendation ITU-T H.810 contains specifications to ensure the interoperability of devices used for applications monitoring personal health. The guidelines focus on the following interfaces:

  • TAN-IF: Interface between touch area network (TAN) health devices and application hosting devices (AHDs)
  • PAN-IF: Interface between personal area network (PAN) health devices and AHDs
  • LAN-IF: Interface between local area network (LAN) health devices and AHDs
  • WAN-IF: Interface between AHDs and wide area network (WAN) health devices
  • HRN-IF: Interface between WAN health devices and Health Record Network health devices

SG16 also reached consent on what are the final updates to Recommendation ITU-T H.264, marking the first occasion in 15 years that no active work items remain open on planned extensions to the standard.

Building on the successful collaboration with which the joint ITU and ISO/IEC MPEG-2 system and video standards (ITU-T H.222.0 and H.262) were developed, ITU and ISO/IEC’s commitment to collaborative video coding work in 1999 led to ITU-T H.264’s first publication in 2003. Paying tribute to this spirit of collaboration, Gary Sullivan, Chief Editor of H.264, noted in the meeting’s final plenary session that, “most video in the world today is coded according to H.264,” and that now, “roughly half of the bits on worldwide networks are coded according to the document.” The successor to H.264 – Recommendation ITU-T H.265 HEVC – was approved in April 2013 (January consent outlined in an ITU press release here).

Over the past decade, ongoing work on ITU-T H.264 has taken it through nine revisions and this final version brings four updates:

  • An extension for combined multiview depth and texture coding enables improved coding efficiency when coding both multiple views and depth map data, while retaining a compatible base view for existing decoders.
  • An extension known as multiresolution frame compatible (MFC) 3D stereoscopic coding for enhancing the spatial resolution of 3D stereoscopic video coded using a side-by-side or top-bottom frame packing arrangement (FPA).
  • The definition of an additional frame packing type, known as the tile format frame packing type, within the existing FPA supplemental enhancement information (SEI) message.
  • The correction of minor errors in the semantics of two existing SEI messages – specifically, in the tone mapping information and 3D reference displays information SEI messages.

Final approval was achieved on a revised Technical Paper detailing conformance testing specifications for a core protocol used in IPTV systems, Recommendation ITU-T H.762 “Lightweight interactive multimedia environment (LIME) for IPTV services”; and a new Technical Paper titled “Introduction to H.741-series – A new video engagement audience measurement standard”.

More information on ITU-T Study Group 16 can be found here…

Also watch Thomas Wiegand, one of the experts behind the award-winning video codec ITU-T H.264, on tactile Internet—a way to better connect moving objects here…


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