Google will be including image stabilization technology developed by SRI International, a nonprofit institute responsible for technology such as the computer mouse, in Gtalk’s video calling feature on Android 3.0 and above. Shaky images lower the overall quality and sharpness of a video, a problem prevalent in real-time video chatting services such as Skype and Google Talk. Since these services need to transfer large amounts of data nearly instantly, the video is significantly compressed. Stabilization is able to lower the bandwidth needed to send video, and therefore improve the quality by reducing overall motion.
The video is captured by the tablet’s front-facing camera, and the image is compressed before it can be transmitted. Video compression algorithms increase the bandwith used to encode the video with the amount of motion in the scene. Image stabilization before compression enables improved image quality and increases the video compression engine performance of the device simultaneously, since it requires less computing power.
Apple does not currently embed stabilization software in FaceTime, but it could be a feature worth looking into. The addition of a front camera on the iPad 2 make it the ideal video calling device, and iOS 5 may enable FaceTime over 3G. AT&T and Verizon have both discontinued their unlimited data plans, so every byte saved by improved compression counts.