IP-TV, Hbb-TV, SmartTV or Hybrids... What does the future hold for television delivery into our living rooms?
The process of digitalization brings together members of previously unrelated fields who join in an effort to shape the future of television in its many new manifestations. At regular intervals, the Specialist Group IPTV within the Federal Association of Online Service Providers (Bundesverband der Dienstleister für Online-Anbieter e.V.; BDOA) examines select areas within this development, often going into more technical detail than usual. The meetings take place in the evening, with one or several short presentations followed by a networking session over snacks and beverages.
The first IP-TV round table discussion, moderated by Sven Slazenger, took place at the Media Innovation Center (MIZ) Babelsberg, which, in conjunction with the BDOA, had invited select experts to the first IP-TV Special Evening on August 25, 2011.
Industry representatives discussed the future of hybrid televison. How much longer until we can receive Internet television in our living rooms? Or have we arrived already?T
he evening started with an impressive presentation by Stefan A. Jenzowsky, entitled The Swipe Trick. Mr. Jenzowsky, director of the division Multimedia, Siemens Communications, Media and Technology in Vienna, explained to the attendees how simple, fast and mobile Internet television could work for everyone in the near future.
The user selects the desired medium on his tablet or iPhone, and here is the “trick:” with a sleight of his hand the user simply “swipes“ the selected film onto his television set. And this move can easily be reversed, if necessary. According to Jenzowsky, this is an entirely virtual process controlled by a simple app, without the need for a conventional setup box. The end user can conveniently manage and control all movies, podcasts and other media on his portable terminal device, retaining full flexibility. Siemens calls this “OTT – Over The Top TV.“ The Swipe Trick - a magic user experience.
But is it really that simple? Do we actually have the technical requirements and capacities in place? Those were among a number of questions asked by critical experts.
According to Jenzowsky, fifty percent of all television sets on the market already come with the appropriate technical requirements, and reception may also be feasible through other devices, such as a Playstation. And in the future, the required bandwidth would no longer be the main issue, said Jenzowsky. The goal is to reach one quarter of the required capacity. The intelligence of the implemented procedures, e.g., improved encoding processes, would render network development less relevant.
The evening’s second talk was delivered by Dr. Ing. Stefan Arbanowski, director of the Competence Center “Future Applications and Media” at the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems (Institut für Offene Kommunikationssysteme; FOKUS) in Berlin.
The focus of his presentation was HbbTV (Hybrid broadcast broadband TV).
This new type of television entertainment, also known as Smart TV, aims at improving television’s offerings by making them more interactive, colorful and entertaining for the viewers. All relevant portals should be accessible directly from the television set, requiring an even closer linking of the Internet and TV.
And this is how it works: An app controls the television picture, while additional information, similar to conventional videotext, is displayed on the screen. This makes it possible, for example, to watch a soccer match and simultaneously look up information on the team’s starting lineup or the soccer club. Similarly, during a cooking program, viewers would be able to look up the necessary ingredients while a parallel picture still shows the preparation and cooking process.
Besides the technical possibilities, Arbanowski also discussed the TV viewers’ behavior and habits. The fact that certain technologies are available does not necessarily mean that this is what the users of the new devices actually want. Thus, the manufacturers of television sets are still in disagreement as to future consumer behavior. However, it is interesting to note that 100 % of the owners of connected (!) TV sets continued to use select offers after the initial trial period had expired.
The experts expect that the conventional CE-HTML will be replaced by HTML5, which offers a multitude of new functionalities, e.g., video, audio, local memory, and dynamic 2D and 3D graphics. This enables the creation and implementation of convincing user applications.
According to Arbanowski, the current market data for sales of hybrid TV sets speak for themselves: To date, an estimated two to three million terminal devices are already on the market. Arbanowski believes that the application programming will adjust over time and considers it likely that an open standard, such as HTML5, will eventually prevail for all terminal devices (mobile phones, STB, TV, tablets).
Following the keynote addresses, the participants continued a lively discussion of the topics during a get-together in the MIZ’s garden and already gathered initial suggestions for the next IP-TV Round Table Meeting.
The event was initiated by the Specialist Group IPTV within the BOAD and by the MIZ Babelsberg of the mabb (Media Institute Berlin Brandenburg) in Potsdam.