Closing the Gap: Human Factors in Cross-Device Media Synchronization

Mu Mu, Lyndon Fawcett, Jamie Bird, Jamie Jellico, Steven Simpson, Hans Stokking, Nicholas Race

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticle


The continuing growth in the mobile phone arena, particularly in terms of device capabilities and ownership is having a transformational impact on media consumption. It is now possible to consider orchestrated multi-stream experiences delivered across many devices, rather than the playback of content from a single device. However, there are significant challenges in realising such a vision, particularly around the management of synchronicity between associated media streams. This is compounded by the heterogeneous nature of user devices, the networks upon which they operate, and the perceptions of users. This paper describes IMSync, an open inter-stream synchronisation framework that is QoE-aware. IMSync adopts efficient monitoring and control mechanisms, alongside a QoE perception model that has been derived from a series of subjective user experiments. Based on an observation of lag, IMSync is able to use this model of impact to determine an appropriate strategy to catch-up with playback whilst minimising the potential detrimental impacts on a users QoE. The impact model adopts a balanced approach: trading off the potential impact on QoE of initiating a re-synchronisation process compared with retaining the current levels of non-synchronicity, in order to maintain high levels of QoE. A series of experiments demonstrate the potential of the framework as a basis for enabling new, immersive media experiences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-195
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Signal Processing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2016


  • Multimedia systems
  • human factors
  • multimedia communication


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