News Round-Up (V): Netgem, Microsoft, Opera, Oregan, Widevine

--Netgem Integrates Microsoft Silverlight and Play Ready, Launches New Range of Internet/TV Adapters
--Opera Launches Multiple Solutions for Connected/Hybrid TV
--Oregan Taps Widevine for OTT Adaptive Streaming and DRM, Debuts Motion-Sensing Remote

Due to the huge volume of interactive TV-related news generated over the past few days by the IBC, we are covering stories in this issue in round-up format. We anticipate that it will take a few more days for us to catch up with all the recent news: so if your company has sent us a press release or briefed us on an announcement, and you don't yet see your news covered in this issue, please bear with us. Our regular news coverage will return shortly.

  • Set-top box and middleware provider, Netgem, has announced that its NetgemTV middleware supports new "adaptive TV" technologies from Microsoft, thereby enabling the creation of multiscreen services that can be delivered securely and consistently. "Microsoft's Silverlight and Play Ready plug-ins have been integrated into Netgem's solutions in order to enable smooth streaming of content and DRM management across multiple devices," the company states in its press materials. "This allows pay-TV operators to distribute blended Internet TV and broadband services, broadcast and home network content across any connected screen. Netgem's media center set-top-boxes and smart, open middleware can be integrated with any operator network." In other Netgem news: 1) The company has launched a new range of Internet/TV adapters--dubbed the Netbox N5000 series--which it bills as "offer[ing] an affordable solution for service providers looking to offer a seamless blend of broadcast, and optimized Web content within a unified TV experience. The N5000 series Netbox works with any Internet source, regardless of connection type," the company continues in its press materials. "Building on the NetgemTV open software platform, it is pre-loaded with a range of popular Web applications beyond the standard set of services: these include versions of YouTube, Facebook and Flickr, all of which have been redesigned to best suit the TV experience. The UI can also be personalized by the operator or service provider and added-value services, such as VOD, catch-up TV or Web-TV channels can be integrated to enrich their offering. The N5000 includes a HD tuner, allowing end-users to switch from Internet services to TV services using the same remote control. Users can also choose to connect a detachable hard disk to the device, to allow them to permanently store video content recorded from the tuner." 2) The company has announced that its set-top technology is powering a converged three-screen video service, called SiOL iO, from Slovenian multimedia and content provider, Planet9. According to the company, the service combines mobile, PC and TV content and allows customers to record or stream video from their mobile phone or Webcam to their TV set.
  • Oslo, Norway-based browser specialist, Opera Software, has generated a fair amount of hybrid/connected-TV-related news at the IBC in Amsterdam: 1) The company has announced that it is working with set-top box and TV semiconductor company, Trident Microsystems, to deliver an HbbTV-compliant browser on the latter's PNX84xx family of system-on-chip (SoC) solutions. According to the companies, their joint solution will deliver enhanced Web experiences, "spectacular" 3D graphics and low power consumption. 2) The company has announced a deal with NetRange MMH to deliver the Opera Devices SDK and a pre-qualified suite of Web-based TV content to be deployed on TV platforms supporting HbbTV and other pan-European initiatives. NetRange MMH offers an off-the-shelf portal solution that it bills as including "UI design, portal architecture, backend solution, hosting and portal operations for letting the end customer access content on various platforms, including HbbTV-based platforms." Said Opera's chief development officer, Christen Krogh: "Having a complete package for OEM's to deliver new TV models and STB's quickly to market gives the manufacturers an advantage early in the process. We are often approached by TV manufacturers who would like to package their new connected TV's or STB's with more content. With an out-of-the-box portal from MMH containing hundreds of applications qualified to run on the Opera browser, Opera will be able to deliver a complete Web content solution for OEM's. It is simply one less step in the process to worry about." 3) The company has unveiled its new Opera Devices Content Development Kit (CDK), which is available for download here. "An important asset to Opera customers and partners, the Opera Devices CDK will now allow any Web developer to create content for TV's and other Internet-powered devices, without requiring access to the physical device," Opera states in its press materials. "Developing HTML5 and HbbTV-enabled content will now be a breeze on the PC platform, rather than the device itself, and debugging will become easy with Opera Dragonfly--the world's most powerful debugger--which comes as part of the package. The Opera Devices CDK can be installed on any standard Linux PC and will empower OEM's, content developers, content service providers and Opera partners to create and debug portals, applications, widgets and Web pages for TV's and other Opera-powered devices. OEM's and operators can also use the Opera Devices CDK as a 'reference platform,' so, once they develop for one device, they can ensure it works on any device that runs Opera's widely used browsers. Opera Devices CDK supports the latest W3C, HbbTV, OIPF, and CEA-2014 specifications unlocking a new dimension for content developers who can write content for all standards and deploy on Opera TV's anywhere." 4) The company has launched version 2.8 of its Opera Devices SDK, which it says features support for HTML5 video and includes the company's new JavaScript engine, Carakan. "Today, manufacturers are creating a new generation of connected devices," Opera CEO, Lars Boilesen, said in a prepared statement. "Rather than the traditional 'lean-back' model of TV interaction, today's 'lean-forward' devices engage the consumer with interactive content and downloadable widgets and applications. Opera's newest Opera Devices SDK allows manufacturers to build all of those new revolutionary experiences on top of the browser engine."
  • Oregan Networks, a London-based provider of media browser solutions for CE and IPTV devices, has announced that Seattle-based Widevine will provide video optimization and DRM for its Onyx media browser, thereby enabling consumers to access premium content and enjoy a high-quality viewing experience on connected-TV devices running the browser. "The Onyx solution is developed by Oregan as a consumer brand of its Oregan Media Browser--a Web delivery platform for connected TV's and Hybrid IP-STB's," Oregan states in its press materials. "Based on deep consumer insights gathered through end-user focus groups, Onyx features an easy-to-use and rich graphical interface for family-style living room entertainment. Widevine's video optimization and DRM platform will be integrated into Onyx to provide adaptive streaming, virtual DVD controls and secure delivery of premium content." Said Oregan CEO, Mark Perry: "Widevine is a crucial component of the over-the-top value chain and we are pleased to include its adaptive streaming and content decryption solution in the Onyx media delivery engine. By implementing Widevine's DRM, studios can be assured that their digital rights are being protected, thereby allowing distribution of more content over-the-top to connected devices. This provides our customers with access to an even wider range of content available over the Internet. We also believe that Widevine's video optimization technology provides an exceptional viewing experience, particularly on the networks with limited or no QoS." In other Oregan news: At the IBC in Amsterdam, the company has been showcasing a new motion-sensing remote control, which it says is designed to facilitate an easy text input method for on-screen search menus, user profile settings and social networking apps. Dubbed the Onyx Dual, the new remote was developed in collaboration with Philips Home Control and is based on 3D sensor technology from Philips' labs. "The device features a dual functionality," Oregan states in its press materials. "It enables traditional spatial TV user interface navigation via the motion-sensing technology which responds to kinetic hand signals; [and] it functions as an intelligent, context-sensitive keyboard which is activated by the simple gesture of turning the device."

 

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