Mozilla, Otoy team on JavaScript video codec

The JavaScript-based ORBX.js codec offers better compression than H.264, according to Mozilla

The Mozilla Foundation and graphic rendering technology company Otoy have built a video codec, written with JavaScript and WebGL, that would eliminate the need for using plug-ins to view video in a browser.

The ORBX.js codec can also be used to render remote applications in a browser, and comes with a watermarking technology that would eliminate the need to add digital rights management (DRM) to content.

ORBX.js will allow video to be handled entirely by the browser, said Otoy founder and CEO Jules Urbach. Producers of video content would no longer have to worry about formatting video for a specific codec, such as H.264 or Google's VP8, neither of which are supported by all browsers.

"This means video can be handled entirely in JavaScript and it will not require one codec or the other to be supported. And that is a huge leap forward for the open Web," Urbach said.

In its continuing mission to build tools for an open Web, Mozilla has held an interest in not relying on any browser technology that is patented, proprietary or requires licensing. Commercial use of H.264, for instance, requires payment of patent royalties.

Mozilla has experimented in trying to implement H.264 entirely in JavaScript. The development team for that JavaScript library, Broadway.js, found H.264 difficult to implement efficiently. ORBX.js, on the other hand, can offer 25 percent better compression than H.264, according to Mozilla.

ORBX.js can work with both live video -- where it can transcode the video on the fly to match the specific bandwidth limitations of the user -- and for off-line transcoding of video. "It can really be done as users request to see the video or download the video," Urbach said.

ORBX.js can also be used to virtualize any application written for Windows, Linux or Mac OSX apps so it can be streamed to any HTML5-enabled browser, including those running on mobile devices, according to Mozilla.

The project has demonstrated that Autodesk 3ds Max 2014 computer aided design software, Adobe Photoshop Creative Suite 6 and Valve's PC game service can be run entirely through HTML5 on all major browsers, using only JavaScript.

Autodesk invested in Otoy in 2011 and worked with the company to accelerate the development of its technology. 

The technology could also offer a way for content owners to track usage of their products without DRM, Urbach said. ORBX can watermark the digital files so content providers can track who is making copies of their material. Users would benefit from speedier performance, due to the slighter computational load that comes from eliminating the overhead of running DRM.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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