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Google for Slow Connections and Mozilla on Accessibility

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  • Lyra: A New Very Low-Bitrate Codec for Speech Compression

    Connecting to others online via voice and video calls is something that is increasingly a part of everyday life. The real-time communication frameworks, like WebRTC, that make this possible depend on efficient compression techniques, codecs, to encode (or decode) signals for transmission or storage. A vital part of media applications for decades, codecs allow bandwidth-hungry applications to efficiently transmit data, and have led to an expectation of high-quality communication anywhere at any time.

    [...]

    To solve this problem, we have created Lyra, a high-quality, very low-bitrate speech codec that makes voice communication available even on the slowest networks. To do this, we’ve applied traditional codec techniques while leveraging advances in machine learning (ML) with models trained on thousands of hours of data to create a novel method for compressing and transmitting voice signals.

  • Google's New Lyra Voice Codec + AV1 Aim For Video Chats Over 56kbps Modems In 2021

    Google's AI team has announced "Lyra" as a very low bit-rate codec for speech compression designed for use-cases like WebRTC and other video chats... With a bit rate so low that when combined with the likes of the AV1 video codec could potentially allow video chats over 56kbps Internet connections.

    Google engineers formally announced Lyra on Thursday as this new codec to challenge the likes of Opus. Lyra leverages machine learning to make it suitable for delivering extremely low bit-rate speech compression.

    Google's Lyra announcement noted, "Lyra is currently designed to operate at 3kbps and listening tests show that Lyra outperforms any other codec at that bitrate and is compared favorably to Opus at 8kbps, thus achieving more than a 60% reduction in bandwidth. Lyra can be used wherever the bandwidth conditions are insufficient for higher-bitrates and existing low-bitrate codecs do not provide adequate quality."

  • Mozilla Accessibility: 2021 Firefox Accessibility Roadmap Update [Ed: Mozilla is not consistent. It speaks of people with disabilities, but was eager to go on with DRM (EME) inside Firefox despite is being an attack on disabled people]

    People with disabilities can experience huge benefits from technology but can also find it frustrating or worse, downright unusable. Mozilla’s Firefox accessibility team is committed to delivering products and services that are not just usable for people with disabilities, but a delight to use.

    The Firefox accessibility (a11y) team will be spending much of 2021 re-building major pieces of our accessibility engine, the part of Firefox that powers screen readers and other assistive technologies.

    While the current Firefox a11y engine has served us well for many years, new directions in browser architectures and operating systems coupled with the increasing complexity of the modern web means that some of Firefox’s venerable a11y engine needs a rebuild.

    Browsers, including Firefox, once simple single process applications, have become complex multi-process systems that have to move lots of data between processes, which can cause performance slowdowns. In order to ensure the best performance and stability and to enable support for a growing, wider variety of accessibility tools in the future (such as Windows Narrator, Speech Recognition and Text Cursor Indicator), Firefox’s accessibility engine needs to be more robust and versatile. And where ATs used to spend significant resources ensuring a great experience across browsers, the dominance of one particular browser means less resources being committed to ensuring the ATs work well with Firefox. This changing landscape means that Firefox too must evolve significantly and that’s what we’re going to be doing in 2021.

Lyra audio codec enables high-quality voice calls at 3 kbps

  • Lyra audio codec enables high-quality voice calls at 3 kbps bitrate

    We’re often writing about new video codecs like AV1 or H.266, and recently, we covered AVIF picture format that offers an improved quality/compression ratio against WebP and JPEG, but there’s also work done on audio codecs.

    Notably, we noted Opus 1.2 offered decent speech quality with a bitrate as low as 12 kbps when it was outed in 2017, the release of Opus 1.3 in 2019 improved the codec further with high-quality speech possible at just 9 kbps. But Google AI recently unveiled Lyra very low-bitrate codec for speech compression that achieves high speech quality with a bitrate as low as 3kbps.

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today's leftovers

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    If your current Vulkan-based Radeon Linux gaming performance isn't cutting it and a new GPU is out of your budget or you have been unable to find a desired GPU upgrade in stock, the Mesa RADV driver has added an option likely of interest to you... Well, at least moving forward with this feature being limited to RDNA2 GPUs for now. RADV as Mesa's Radeon Vulkan driver has added an option to allow Variable Rate Shading (VRS) via an environment variable override. This RADV addition is inspired by the likes of NVIDIA DLSS for trading rendering quality for better performance but in its current form is a "baby step" before being comparable to DLSS quality and functionality.

  • Bas Nieuwenhuizen: A First Foray into Rendering Less

    In RADV we just added an option to speed up rendering by rendering less pixels. These kinds of techniques have become more common over the past decade with techniques such as checkerboarding, TAA based upscaling and recently DLSS. Fundamentally all they do is trading off rendering quality for rendering cost and many of them include some amount of postprocessing to try to change the curve of that tradeoff. Most notably DLSS has been widly successful at that to the point many people claim it is barely a quality regression. Of course increasing GPU performance by up to 50% or so with barely any quality regression seems like must have and I think it would be pretty cool if we could have the same improvements on Linux. I think it has the potential to be a game changer, making games playable on APUs or playing with really high resolution or framerates on desktops. [...] VRS is by far the easiest thing to make work in almost all games. Most alternatives like checkerboarding, TAA and DLSS need modified render target size, significant shader fixups, or even a proprietary integration with games. Making changes that deeply is getting more complicated the more advanced the game is. If we want to reduce render resolution (which would be a key thing in e.g. checkerboarding or DLSS) it is very hard to confidently tie all resolution dependent things together. For example a big cost for some modern games is raytracing, but the information flow to the main render targets can be very hard to track automatically and hence such a thing would require a lot of investigation or a bunch of per game customizations.

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