Now a team at MIT has come up with a tool to help many people share a limited WiFi connection. A group from the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has developed a Minerva system that analyzes videos before playing them to see how much they would be affected by lower quality playback.
Traditional WiFi sharing protocols simply divide the available bandwidth by the number of users. So if you're trying to watch a sports match on HD on your TV and one of your kids is trying to watch a cartoon on your smartphone, everyone will be allocated half of the available bandwidth. This is good for your child, but terrible for you, as fast-moving videos like sports events suffer more from a low bandwidth than other types of videos like animated films.
Minerva can analyze both videos in the offline phase to see which would benefit from this higher bandwidth and which can be served using a lower bandwidth without suffering quality. The protocol then assigns a bandwidth based on the needs of different users and will adapt over time in response to the video content being played.
In real tests, Minerva was able to cut rebuff time by almost half, and in one third of the cases it was able to offer video playback enhancements that were equivalent to switching from 720p to 1
The system can be introduced by video providers without the need to change any hardware, making it essentially a "substitute user for standard TCP / IP protocol" according to the team.