Companies Showcase Advanced/Interactive TV Technologies at CableLabs Innovation Showcase

 

US cable-industry research, development and standards organization, CableLabs, has provided some information on the technologies that were featured at its Innovation Showcase, Monday. The Innovation Showcase, which was part of CableLabs' Summer Conference, saw 11 companies pitching new technologies to conference attendees, who then voted for the one they deemed most likely to succeed in the marketplace. The winner was BelAir Networks' new BelAir100SP Strand Picocell (see below):

  • ActiveVideo Networks' demo was intended to show "how the same principles that are proving effective for the delivery of 'cloud'-based services can be incorporated into the home network to efficiently and cost-effectively enable media from virtually any sources to be viewed on any device within the home. The demonstration will show how gateway devices equipped with advanced transcoding, processing and stitching technologies can deliver a personalized interactive multimedia experience using compressed video streams to set-top boxes, PC's, and mobile devices that require only a thin client, rather than the large software loads that are typically associated with home media networking," ActiveVideo's Innovation Showcase materials explain. "ActiveVideo Networks is showing how this home media server can allow viewers to enjoy a unified media experience--including photo sharing, music libraries, personal videos, multi-room DVR functionality, on-demand, Web and linear video access--on any device in the home network. The demonstration shows how new algorithms for compositing and stitching video can be combined with the key components of a network-based architecture to allow viewers seamless access to content from local and network sources providing the consumer with a unified content navigation environment."
  • Alcatel-Lucent demo'd TV Everywhere/multiscreen and "connected-car" technologies. According to the company, the former demo showed "how cable operators can quickly and cost-effectively deliver enhanced video services, including IP video, to additional screens while unifying the backend. [The demo] focuses on consistent consumer experiences and innovative use cases," Alcatel-Lucent's Innovation Showcase materials explain. "Specifically, subscribers can get access to pay-TV services (linear TV, catch-up TV, DVR, VOD, etc.) from a variety of smartphones--including iPhone and HTC Android--as well as PC's and an iPad tablet, in a simple and predictable way and with a consistent end-user experience across all devices. The demonstration also features Mobile Smartloading, a feature that helps ease peak usage based on time-of-day and type of connectivity, enabling cable operators to push content for off-line consumption." Alcatel-Lucent's connected-car demo, meanwhile, featured a prototype Toyota Prius that the company developed with its ngConnect partners: "At first glance the car looks like any other 2010 Toyota Prius," the company explains. "But what's special about this automobile is that it embodies the latest in communications and entertainment technology, providing a vision of the future in automotive safety, entertainment, and comfort--and innovative new cable operator services such as: video services (on-demand movies and kids' content, access to MyPVR via network storage, access and remote control of IP cameras in home or car-car, YouTube); audio services (Pandora Internet radio, Atlantic Records Fanbase, on-demand music store, WiFi/Bluetooth access to personal media devices); gaming services (game store download and play, in-car and out-of-car single and multiplayer gaming); navigation services (local search, GPS augmented by Points of Interest overlay on maps); vehicle wellness services (maintenance tracking and notification, virtual mechanic, car-car sharing of road and safety conditions); [and] communication and connectivity services (hands-free mobile communications, network-based value-added services, access to widgets and social networking, in-car broadband Internet access via WiFi, home control). The Alcatel-Lucent 4G Connected Car features in-car passenger screens with high-bandwidth connectivity between a 4G mobile environment and a cable subscriber home, delivering fast access to, and sharing of, multimedia, Internet, and automotive content between the car and home network as well as cable TV environment. This architecture has the potential to put much of the intelligence and computing capability in the network, driving down cost while opening new revenue-producing application and service opportunities for cable MSO's."
  • Alticast's demo saw it unveiling its AltiConnect Social Media platform, which it says lets cable subscribers interact with sponsored Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare campaigns form their TV set. "AltiConnect allows programmers to provide an interactive social media experience that maintains the viewer's focus on watching television," Alticast explains in its Innovation Showcase materials. "By extending social media campaigns to the television, AltiConnect provides clear value to programmers and advertisers along with new opportunities for cable operators to increase revenues and retain subscribers. This innovative solution enables operators not only to measure subscriber participation and monetize success, but also to measure the campaign's success within social networks. AltiConnect includes lightweight EBIF and OCAP application templates as well as Web-based campaign management and measurement tools that implement the CableLabs SaFI specifications."
  • BelAir Networks demo'd its new BelAir100SP Strand Picocell, which it bills as a compact wireless base station that leverages a cable operator's existing HFC infrastructure--aerial, pedestal, cabinet or vault-- to deliver mobile broadband Internet via both licensed and unlicensed wireless spectrum concurrently. "The BelAir100SP establishes a new business model for cable operators, enabling them to evolve beyond their current mobile backhaul business to become managed wireless service providers with a hosted base station offering for mobile operators," BelAir explains in its Innovation Showcase materials. "Cable operators can also leverage the unlicensed WiFi spectrum to deliver free, on-the-go broadband services to their home broadband subscribers. The BelAir100SP sweats the cable operator's existing assets to deliver additional business services revenue and residential subscriber retention benefits."
  • BigBand Networks demo'd an IPTV application that is designed to leverage existing narrowcasting technology, in order to provide IP video services to IP-enabled devices in the home, using the DLNA approach to access VOD, broadcast TV and broadband video streams. "The approach gives operators the flexibility to leverage existing infrastructure shared across multiple services with substantial time-to-market advantage," the company states in its Innovation Showcase materials. "This IPTV application gives operators the ability to reach further into the subscriber's home since the transport is IP vs. RF, a near-term option for migrating the network from MPEG-2/RF to MPEG-4/IP, and operational tools that combine RF (SDV) and IP (SDV) viewership, capacity management and transport. The demonstration will highlight video streamed to the Apple iPad and Sony PlayStation, both of which serve as a control point and a video player. As part of the user experience, a guide will be presented which includes channels, on-demand, and personal content in the cloud such as photos. Additionally, the demonstration will stream VOD and broadcast TV to an IP STB."
  • Digital Keystone demo'd a product called Maelstrom, which it says is designed to address the content distribution, security, navigation and storage challenges that must be overcome if operators are to succeed in making live and recorded content available on PC's, tablets, smartphones and game consoles. "Digital Keystone's Maelstrom addresses these challenges with a distributed broadcast/broadband architecture that enables delivery of content services throughout all the digital home," the company explains in its Innovation Showcase materials. "The Maelstrom solution consists of a Maelstrom-enabled gateway and an online synchronization server. The gateway performs transcoding and transcrypting, thereby taking advantage of the native streaming, security, and networking capabilities of the client device(s). This means that viewers can immediately watch premium content without any plug-ins, applications, or custom code. The gateway also leverages the existing broadcast infrastructure, allowing operators to reach more devices without any network modifications. With the addition of the synchronization server, the operator has the ability to quickly customize the user experience, including offering viewer recommendations, advertising, and event-driven promotions."
  • Inlet Technologies' Innovation Showcase materials describe its demo as follows: "Inlet Technologies' solutions enable the delivery of professional-quality video, including live streaming appliances and file-based transcoding software, to any device over any IP network. Inlet Technologies' Spinnaker live streaming solution reduces the complexity and cost of media preparation in the race to 'TV Everywhere' and it does so through one solution. Whether reaching a STB or PC or iPhone, iPad, Droid, or any 3GPP device, Inlet is able to reach all subscribers with one solution. In a dynamic world where new devices, codecs, development standards and authentication models are coming into the market at a rapid pace, Inlet addresses each operator's media preparation needs with one solution, future-proofing their infrastructure investment. Furthermore, as the market leader in adaptive bit rate (ABR) technology, Inlet's video quality and reliability is comparable to broadcasters' expectations and scale. Inlet's market pioneering 'Ad Ready' technology gives operators the ability to create new ad inventory and therefore new, real-time monetization opportunities by repurposing broadcast streams for variable digital simulcast, enabling Web-like ad targeting. Inlet's Spinnaker live streaming appliances enable content providers to insert advertising into live streams, making every stream a profit center. Inlet's 'Ad Ready' technologies prepare media streams for ad insertion by marking ad breaks with markers specific to Flash, Silverlight or mobile devices. These markers then trigger ad insertion within the video player. Inlet offers solutions that fit a variety of content workflows and can monetize video on a variety of platforms, whether in the browser, on the iPhone or the iPad. Inlet forms the basis for ad insertion. MSO's can work with their or third-party CDN's, online video platforms, ad networks and ad servers to complete their video experiences. Inlet will demonstrate all of these capabilities in one solution--Spinnaker!"
  • Netgear demo'd residential subscriber and SMB products. "For residential subscribers, Netgear demonstrates live service using its next generation of cable transport gateways that convert multiple channel programming from digital video to MPEG over IP for delivery to IP devices," the company states in its Innovation Showcase materials. "This prototype transport gateway can receive both digital TV transport streams and DOCSIS broadband, converts digital TV to multicast MPEG over IP, and serves it on the LAN side to multiple IP receivers including computers and IP STB's. Voice telephony is incorporated to complete the triple play service. For business customers, Netgear demonstrates live service with a sample from its line of enterprise products including a DOCSIS 3.0 gateway, unified threat manager, Ethernet switching, network attached storage and a WiFi access point, all displayed in a single relay rack capable of serving the IT needs of a high percentage of operators' enterprise customers."
  • Pace Americas demo'd a "Home Content Sharing Multiroom DVR" solution, as well as a flash lite application environment ("App Cafe") ported onto its Engineware for execution on North American cable set-top boxes. According to the company, the former solution "pushes the bandwidth limitations of MoCA 1.1 and demonstrates advanced video processing and routing technology through a dedicated high-performance, low-power consumption network processor. This," the company states in its Innovation Showcase materials, "allows the system to achieve massive, simultaneous read/write activity to a hard disk drive. Pace's Home Content Sharing architecture enables an industry-leading capacity of nine simultaneous HD streams within the home, including six simultaneous recordings. With Pace Home Content Sharing, every television in the home becomes a fully functioning dual-tuner HD-DVR with all the features that subscribers are familiar with. Future evolutions of the hardware easily integrate DOCSIS and voice capability within the same architecture. Portable content offerings also become available through software and/or hardware changes moving forward. Once again, this caters to the consumer expectation to have on-demand access to anything at anytime." Meanwhile, Pace describes its demo of its new flash lite application environment as follows: "The demonstration will not only feature popular information, social networking and video streaming applications; it will also feature the latest VTV calling system from Skype, enabling video conferencing on the TV via a webcam and a standard Pace set-top box. The Application Cafe features hundreds of applications in a storefront format that subscribers can download to their individual set-top boxes. The Pace App Cafe is a great way for the operator to delight subscribers by providing them with their most popular applications right on the television. The on-screen presentation of each application is designed to work alongside existing electronic program guide and video-on-demand applications. Many of the applications have the ability to sit next to or overlay on normal television programming so subscribers can get a constant update of information while they watch their normal video programming such as HD programs, on-demand movies or digital music."
  • Panasonic demo'd Ajax-CE, a JavaScript language which it says allows subscriber-controlled access to IP content through high-quality graphical, Web-based applications. "Ajax-CE is an ideal technology to provision an 'over-the-top' solution within the existing cable infrastructure," the company states in its Innovation Showcase press materials. "Ajax-CE applications are created and stored within the cable operator's networks, can be edited live, and require only small amounts of bandwidth to download. Ajax-CE solutions are highly scalable, and application/set-top box integration is not required."
  • VQLink describes its Innovation Showcase demo as follows: "VQLink will demonstrate its patent-pending AVQ technology for automatic measurement, reporting and enhancement of video quality in the distribution network. AVQ incorporates a real-time mimic of the human visual system, finely tuned to detect artifacts that really matter, but without the notorious 'crying wolf' syndrome: false alarms that have been known to compromise automatic VQ technologies, especially the class of no-reference methods that can be deployed anywhere in the network, without the need for comparing against the original video source. The VQLink demo features its single-RU multichannel product and simultaneous views of video clips and real-time AVQ reports of their quality. Reports include time-granular displays and classifications of artifacts related to encoding and transport, as well as trends of global quality indicators such as number of errored seconds and mean opinion score (MOS). Actionable AVQ outputs include live reports as well as per-session statistics, designed to help operators identify and correct video quality issues, to satisfy content-provider expectations, and to enhance end-user experience."

 

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