SIVIS - a compact video streamer with HDMI cameras on the Internet

    We usually do all kinds of moving things on our virtual machine and are geek-oriented, but suddenly decided to try to make a product for the end user. Now we will talk about it a little more.

    What is it for?

    SIVIS is a miniature device for broadcasting video from HDMI cameras to the Internet or directly to a user's device. It allows you to capture video from GoPro, SLR cameras (DSLR), car DVRs, and even from the computer (gamers, rejoice!). And it is capable of transmitting compressed video both to video broadcasting services (such as YouTube, Ustream), and directly to a user's device - for example, a phone or tablet. The name SIVIS is an abbreviation for Simple Video Streaming.

    We wanted to make the device very simple, compact and inexpensive. He inherited from the virtualka a wide range of supply voltages (from 3 to 18 volts), the ability to "compress" video on the fly in h.264, a small size (8x5x2 cm) and the ability to work with various data transmission channels.

    Where to apply?

    We assume that there are three main use cases:

    1. Broadcasting from a room with a good communication channel

    This can be a broadcast from the place of events - starting from a holiday in a school / kindergarten using GoPro and ending with competitions or other serious events when the picture is given from a SLR camera. It is assumed that in this case there is access to good Wi-Fi or even wired Ethernet, as well as resolving issues with power - for example, a conventional wired power supply from an outlet.

    2. Broadcasting on the go - the operator moves with the device

    Broadcast from a car, motorcycle or bicycle. The source can be a DVR, GoPro or other camera that can be placed on a vehicle.

    Well, or you can broadcast the video directly from the cap:

    3. Broadcasting from mobile devices - copters, cars, planes, boats, balloons, etc.

    When we talk about riding-flying devices, our heartbeat immediately rises, as this is the topic closest to the virtual machine. Everything is quite simple here - we are powered by any on-board battery, we can give the stream through any available channel (from 4G to long-range Wi-Fi paths).

    Of course, the first thing we did was put SIVIS on a quadrocopter

    But the tests "on the ground" with iOS, Android and sources in the form of GoPro and HDMI output of the laptop.

    How prototypes were made

    Especially for those who like to look at the insides of the devices, we present the prototype manufacturing process (hidden below under the spoiler).

    How prototypes were made (of course, with blue electrical tape)
    We printed the earliest prototypes on a regular 3D printer. The result, of course, is not, but on these samples we made the first fitting.

    The next version was already on a gypsum 3D printer. Detailing turned out much better. But the black color came out rather green-brown, and the white yellowish:

    Therefore, the case was painted with matte paint from a spray can in several layers:

    Since it required a very precise adjustment of the size and position of the holes for the connectors, we decided to print monolithic walls, and then make holes. The first pass is a dremel.

    Next, editing files is more accurate:

    Trying boards to the bottom of the case

    The LEDs of the virtualka were taken out on extension cords. Such a New Year's garland came out. By the way, on the wires to the LEDs is not a blue electrical tape - this is a heat shrink, but also the right color.

    The blue stiffener on the loop consumed valuable 4 millimeters. I had to peel it off and then cut it off:

    Two prototypes were made with external LEDs and one with the standard ones:

    Next to GoPro:

    Despite all the efforts to polish and paint, the surface was not perfectly smooth, and the designer couldn’t get a gloss like in the 3D project . A little resourcefulness and we get just such a glossy box:

    The gloss was obtained in a simple way - the box was glued with glossy film, which is used to print advertising materials. The design has not yet been fully recreated - there are a button and inscriptions under the LEDs. But this is the next step.

    But I still have such a pretty picture after painting. Just hang in the frame:

    And a little about the capabilities of the device.

    What sources are captured from?

    SIVIS can capture video from any HDMI source.
    Work verified for capture from the following sources:
    • GoPro Camera
    • DVR
    • Laptop with HDMI output
    • Reflex camera

    Let's touch DRM right away: to avoid legal nuances with the possibility, for example, to broadcast a movie on the Internet from a licensed DVD or BluRay, we currently do not support video sources with content protection. If you try to capture in this case, the user will see a black screen. If there is no DRM, everything is captured well.

    What permissions are supported?

    On the current prototype, we capture a picture with a resolution of 1280x720. The final product is supposed to support FullHD 1920x1080 - for this, the DM368 processor will be installed. An interesting fact was that, for example, the Canon 5D Mark II is not able to give a resolution less than FullHD, so it was not possible to check with this model. But the following camera models already have HDMI output settings and you can work with them even in the current prototype.

    Where can I stream the video?

    The first option is for specialized video services (for example, Ustream, YouTube, etc.).
    The second - the video can be sent directly to the user's device (computer, phone, tablet).

    I’ll explain a little bit the difference between these two methods.
    1. When you broadcast video to a service such as Ustream, your video can be watched by a conditionally unlimited number of people - this is already a problem of these services in returning a large number of streams to users. Of the minuses - this technology introduces a decent delay in the video (from 5 seconds to a minute);
    2. In the case of a live broadcast, for example, on a tablet or phone, you get a video stream with a minimum delay (tenths of a second), but the video goes only to one or several devices within the local network using multicast. Now the video can be taken on smartphones / tablets on Android and iOS or desktop / laptop with Windows. Applications for receiving streams are already on Google Play and the AppStore (can be found using the virt2real keyword).

    A special version of the web interface was also made, which simplifies the translation settings:

    What does a simplified translation settings page look like

    Nevertheless, the main control panel of the virtualka remained available, which allows you to tighten up any translation parameters. We have yet to find a middle ground between "everything is simple and clear" and "you can configure anything."

    Immediately discuss the issue of delay and use as an HD FPV for those who want to ride, fly on such a video: when using iOS or Android as a receiving device, the delay for HD FPV is too large (0.3-0.4 seconds). For such tasks, our application for Windows is suitable - there we get our 180-250 ms. Moreover, in the case of SIVIS, the quality of the video is more important than the proximity to real time - therefore, the firmware for it will be optimized specifically for such tasks.

    Which channels can I transfer video to?

    In short - Wi-Fi, 4G, Ethernet.

    The end device assumes that it has its own Wi-Fi on board, as well as the ability to connect any communication device via USB - a modem, a powerful Wi-Fi module or a USB-Ethernet adapter.

    We tested the following combinations of media for broadcasting video:
    • Wi-Fi broadcasting through a router is the easiest way
    • Wi-Fi broadcast using a 4G phone as an access point - in this case there is no need to use a 4G USB whistle, which has its own bonuses (one less device, no need to keep another paid SIM card)
    • Video transmission through a connected 4G modem
    • Ethernet transmission via USB-Ethernet adapter

    A slight lyrical digression. We are already debiting 3G communications, since despite good coverage, this connection does not provide a normal transmission channel for HD video in acceptable quality. Now 4G / LTE is actively advancing on all fronts, the coverage area is increasing, and it is this connection for mobile broadcasts that seems to us the most reasonable solution.

    I periodically test LTE speed in different areas of Moscow and St. Petersburg - in most cases, the return speed is from 5 to 16 megabits, which is more than enough even for FullHD. Although there is a pitfall in the form of traffic shaping by operators - but this is a matter of a separate discussion.

    Similar solutions from our colleagues, or just competitors

    Similar solutions already exist, and are focused mainly on specialists in video broadcasts.
    Here is a good review of HD streamers on Wired

    Livestream Broadcaster , $ 495
    Teradek VidiU $ 699
    LiveShell $ 299 The

    planned cost of our SIVIS is about $ 150 per device.

    Future plans

    At the moment, we want to understand how interesting such a device is for users. If interest is high, we will bring the device to a serial model and make a circulation. How it will be - investment or crowdfunding - time will tell.

    If you are interested in SIVIS - you can leave your pre-order here .

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