Cisco makes good on video transcoding pitch

One of the cornerstones of Cisco Systems' new video-centric strategy, announced in December, is the Media Experience Engine (MXE) 3000, a video-processing box that promised to transcode video on the fly to make it compatible to whatever device lay on the receiving end of the stream. On Tuesday, Cisco gave a live demo of the MXE for media in Hong Kong.

 

Result: it works.

 

The MXE 3000 - which is aimed primarily at enterprises interested in leveraging internal video for everything from videoconferencing to training videos, briefings and seminars - targets two chief barriers in using video at will: fragmented formats and the time-consuming process of actually getting video ready. According to Cisco, the MXE 3000 not only intelligently bridges video formats, but can also automate distribution and the post-production grunt-work of sticking graphics like corporate logos, watermarks and PowerPoint slides into the video.

 

For the demo, Cisco engineers took the HD video of the initial press briefing and ran it through an MXE 3000 box, which automatically generated a logo and watermark for the video. The video was then distributed to a flat-panel TV, a PC running Windows Media on IE, a MacBook running Quicktime on Safari, an iPhone, a BlackBerry and a Nokia N95.

 

The video played seamlessly on each one of them, with added graphics intact. Cisco consulting system engineer Garrick Ng says the MXE 3000 can transcode video on the fly to all of the major video formats for TV, PC and mobile - 1080i, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.264, etc - and deliver the right format by identifying the device requesting the stream.

 

Granted, the automated post-production isn't likely to put video editing software firms out of business, as many business videos often need some kind of hands-on editing. However, the MXE can do that too, according to Cisco.

 

Cisco isn't the only vendor offering video transcoding capability, but Cisco's value-add, says Cisco GM for Hong Kong and Macau Barbara Chiu, is its broader networking strategy for both enterprises and service providers with video as the centerpiece. Under the medianet banner, everything from routers and switches to videocams will be aware of each other and interconnected to manage video more intelligently and efficiently.

 

Cisco also backed up its vision with its Visual Networking Index - a collection of stats on IP-based video usage in 2008 that predicts, among other things, that commercial video will account for 80% of all Internet video viewed on laptops or PCs by 2012.

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