Play video without plug-ins? Mozilla-OTOY codec turns tide

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Posted May 7, 2013


Mozilla and Los Angeles-based graphics software company OTOY have announced ORBX.js, a downloadable HD codec written in JavaScript and WebGL, that will let major browsers such as Firefox, IE10, Chrome, Safari, and Opera run video and rendering apps like Autodesk without the need for plug-ins. Is there a day to come when end users can access high definition content that is format-agnostic? In tech jargon, it is tempting for company promoters to exaggerate an announcement as “game-changing,” but the May 3 news on the codec could be a game changer in a number of ways. PRBX.js will deliver movies and “cloud” gaming in a browser window using web standard-based technologies. It lets developers stream desktop apps for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X on to any browser including mobile browsers.

As important, there will be no need for plug-ins such as Flash, Silverlight, or QuickTime for running videos in the browser.

Fast JavaScript and WebGL are the key ingredients in the new codec. (OTOY defines ORBX.js as a JavaScript library that enables Windows, Linux or Mac OSX apps to be virtualized in the cloud and streamed to any HTML5-enabled browser, including those running on mobile devices.)

The major HTML5 browsers, Chrome, Safari, Firefox, IE10 and Opera, will do, as long as there is WebGL technology to leverage the full decoding speed of the codec.

The absence of fuss and bother with plug-ins is an obvious win. The announcement is also viewed as a way to avoid the H.264 video-compression standard. Another plus is watermarking, where DRM in the browser becomes unnecessary, and video streams and apps are watermarked in the cloud.

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