Israeli firm Beamr awarded Emmy for video compression tech

Tel Aviv-based company nabs accolade in Technology & Engineering category for patented solution that reduces video size while preserving quality

Ricky Ben-David is The Times of Israel’s Startups and Business editor and reporter.

The team from Israeli company Beamr holding the Emmy they won in 2021 for developing patented video compression tech used in the TV and video streaming industry. (Courtesy)
The team from Israeli company Beamr holding the Emmy they won in 2021 for developing patented video compression tech used in the TV and video streaming industry. (Courtesy)

Israeli company Beamr, the developer of content-adaptive video encoding solutions, is being awarded an Emmy in the Technology & Engineering category from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences on Thursday for its patented technology that helps compress video streams while maintaining top quality.

The company’s win was announced in January and the ceremony is set to take place Thursday. The Technology & Engineering Emmy is awarded to companies, organizations and individuals for technology breakthroughs that have a significant impact on television engineering.

Founded in 2009, Beamr started off by developing image compression technology to reduce the size of photos, later moving on to develop video solutions as consumers, broadcasters, and entertainment platforms adopted HD, and later 4K, standards. The company came up with a patented quality measure called BQM (Beamr Quality Measure), which quantifies the perceptual quality loss introduced in a video frame due to encoding processes, which transmit and reduce the size of data so that it can be consumed.

“As the quality of video goes higher, you need more bandwidth, and more bits to stream it, and the bitrate goes higher,” Dror Gill, CTO, VP Product & VP Marketing at Beamr, told The Times of Israel this week ahead of the award ceremony. Bitrate refers to the speed of upload and download transfers.

“Today, about 80 percent of internet traffic is actually video and there’s a huge demand for high-quality video,” he said, with new and old media providers having to come up with new solutions.

“When you are streaming over the internet, the bandwidth is constantly changing,” he said, adding that this affects companies like Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu, which offer content directly to viewers via the internet, as well as cable companies and multi-service providers such as YES and Partner in Israel.

Dror Gill, CTO, VP Product & VP Marketing at Beamr, holding the Emmy the company won in 2021. (Courtesy)

Beamr’s solution, he said, provides encoders — sensing devices that process video formats for delivery — with “human eyes” so that they can adjust the bitrate automatically.

“An action movie, for example, will need more bits than a talk show. Our solution measures the quality of the video from the standpoint of the average user. We analyze the quality of each frame and find the areas where size can be reduced without impacting the quality,” Gill explained.

Tamar Shoham, Beamr’s VP Technology, led the development of the solution which now has 51 patents, he said. “We are one of the pioneers of perception quality metrics,” added Gill.

Beamr already works with companies such as encoding tech giant Dolby, streaming giant Netflix, ViacomCBS, Microsoft, and Deluxe, a post-production company whose clients include major motion picture groups, television studios, and digital content providers.

The Emmy win, said Gill, was a significant milestone for Beamr and an “official acknowledgment from a committee charged with recognizing companies that make significant contributions to the TV and broadcasting industry.”

Israeli company Beamr developed content-adaptive technology that maximizes quality while reducing video size. (Beamr)

“There will be no red carpet walk for us, as everything will be virtual, but there was a lot of excitement when we received the statue,” he joked.

The win for Gill is especially significant as his father, Dr. Aharon Gill, a lecturer at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology where Gill also earned his degree in electrical engineering, is also an Emmy recipient, having served as a developer and editor of MPEG2, a widely used format of digital television signals.

“We are second-generation Emmy winners,” offered Gill.

Beamr is based in Herzliya, with business development operations in Palo Alto, California, and an R&D center in St. Petersburg, Russia, which was set up after the company acquired a local startup.

Beamr now joins two other Israeli companies that previously won tech Emmys: Sound Radix, an audio tech firm that won the prize in 2020, and Valens, a semiconductor company focusing on high-speed connectivity, which won in 2015.

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