Google testing higher-quality video chat in Gmail

The new setting, called “video chat improvements,” UPS not only the size of the video chat window, but also its resolution. The size difference between the old and new is considerable, both in the window of the person you’re talking about, and the preview of your webcam that appears in the lower right corner.

In addition to Gmail, the video chat feature works in iGoogle and Orkut.

In his blog post announcing the feature, Google said that the upgraded version of the talk “free valuable resources in your computer” during the conversation. To do this, using hardware-accelerated video decoding to take some work outside of the computer processor of a user – the same of Adobe been doing in the latest versions of Flash video player.

Speaking to ZDNet sister site CNET Asia, Christopher Vander Mey, a senior product manager of Google said the decoding itself is based on software, although the new version uses hardware acceleration for processing. “We use a form of H.264 video codec called scalable coding,” he said. “Instead of sending a single image for each frame, it sends the layers of images. So a single image is composed of four lower-quality images, blended together to make a high quality image.” Vander Mey said that this technique results in a very good looking video that can be adjusted more gracefully, depending on the bandwidth of the user.

In this regard, the latest version of the video chat technology can make better use of connecting a user to push all the way up to 640×480 video resolution VGA. “It’s going to work pretty well from 256 kilobits per second to 1 megabyte per second,” Vander Mey said. “We were going up to 500kb in the previous version.” That and the change of extra bandwidth codec mentioned above are the two things that have made the higher-resolution video possible.

Vander Mey also echoed a similar statement to the Gmail product manager Todd Jackson, who last January told CNET that the video architecture was capable of HD video, although everything depends on the speed wide upstream bandwidth. “We see more and more resolutions available,” Vander Mey said.

In May, Google acquired for U.S. Global IP Solutions $ 68,200,000 for Internet telephony and videoconferencing efforts, while Vander Mey said the improved version of the video chat was not using any specific technologies that pick-up. “Google API plug-in that allows this to work is a software O3D our project on” O3D Google launched early last year in an attempt to reinforce what I could do web applications using local hardware. “That allows us to offer a much higher quality,” Vander Mey said.

For Linux users, the higher quality video is now the default, otherwise, using the new feature requires that both parties have allowed within the Gmail Labs settings, but according to Vander Mey to not be so forever. “In the long term, will be available to all our customers as Default” he said.