Ericsson is planning the IBC launch of a commercial multiscreen TV offering that combines the featuresets of IPTV, mobile TV and web TV with a common look and feel of the user interface.
Capitalising on the company’s current slogan of End-to-Endless Television, Dr Giles Wilson, CTO, Ericsson Solution Area Television, said Ericsson would be demonstrating products across the media chain from content acquisition and content management through to bandwidth efficiencies and the multiscreen user experience.
“We’re seeing a move towards more video consumption on portable devices, driven by technology changes such as better broadband access and greater device capability, such as the iPad and next generation mobile phones,” said Wilson. “We have a lot of demos at the show around user experience, some of that is user experience such as our IPTV middleware, our latest high definition, our latest 3D, but also a new version of our IPTV remote”.
Wilson explained that the device allowed the TV to move back to its traditional role while transferring the interactive elements, such as EPG and product catalogues, to a handheld, tablet style device. Ericsson is not going to enter the consumer electronics business – it already has its well-established mobile relationship with Sony – instead the Wi-Fi enabled device will be licensed to third parties at the behest of interested operators.
“Consumer electronics manufacturers are starting to offer direct internet access from a number of different devices, including the television itself,” said Michael Adams, head of software strategy, Solution Area TV, Ericsson. “The challenge for service operators is to create a consistent user experience that users find easy to use and trust, whichever screen they happen to be using.
“At IBC we’re launching our multi-screen TV offering, which for the first time fully integrates fixed line and wireless media. Our experience with streaming IPTV and mobile TV has taught us that viewers want to be in charge, with an on-demand content environment offering immediate playback – they are not interested in programs that need to be downloaded first”.
Among the features planned are session shifting, the ability for the consumer to start watching a piece of content on one device and complete it on another.
While users obviously know the difference between a large screen TV and a smart phone display, the screen is ultimately the conduit through which content can be reached. The system automatically keeps track of bookmarks, so that if users start watching a program via a portable device on the way home for instance, they can resume viewing on the home screen without trying to remember the point at which they stopped. Ericsson also provides access to home subscription services on all screens, shared preferences and recommendations, centralized account management and common user sign-in.
“The multi-screen environment is not just about coordinating several screens used by one person, but also managing a number of screens within the same household,” Adams added. “The system can be configured so that the designated administrator, typically a parent, can be sent a request to watch a particular program from one of the children’s screens for example, which can either be granted or denied. We’re also showing how the multi-screen viewing patterns of individual users can be distilled into a valuable profile for targeted advertising,” said Adams.
One of the great strengths of multi-screenTV is its capability to operate side-by-side with existing components in the personalized TV value chain. This is a radical departure from traditional systems, where integrating third-party elements is usually associated with huge costs. Above all, it gives the operator one solution that can address any screen, whether a 3G mobile, broadband internet device or a ‘normal’ cable, IPTV, satellite or terrestrial TV.