The Optimiser: monitoring and improving switching delays in video conferencing


With the growing popularity of video communication systems, more people are using group video chat, rather than only one-to-one video calls. In such multi-party sessions, remote participants compete for the available screen space and bandwidth. A common solution is showing the current speaker prominently. Bandwidth limitations may not allow all streams to be sent at a high resolution at all times, especially with many participants in a call. This can be mitigated by only switching on higher resolutions when they are required. This switching encounters delays due to latency and the properties of encoded video streams. In this paper, we analyse and improve the switching delay of our video conferencing system. Our server-centric system offers a next-generation video chat solution, providing end-to-end video encoding. To evaluate our system we use a testbed that allows us to emulate different network conditions. We measure the video switching delay between three clients, each connected via different network profiles. Our results show that missing Intra-Frames in the transmission has a strong influence on the switching delay. Based on this, we provide an optimization mechanism that improves those delays by resending Intra-Frames.