Forget all that 3D malarkey, it’s so last year, well that depends. This year it seems every exhibitor at IBC 2010 will have some sort of stereoscopic television on its stand. We know that the delivery of 3D signals into domestic televisions is possible, what we are yet to discover is whether or not people are prepared to pay to watch it.
The Digital Media Centre, Net Insight, Ericsson, Harmonic, Motorola, T-VIPS and the DVB are just a few of those who will ask us to don the comedy glasses. But there is 3D and 3D. The transmissions currently taking place use the side-by-side (or top-bottom) formats that allow an installed base of existing set-top boxes – some 3 million in the case of BSkyB – to be used.
Other companies such as Arqiva are experimenting with Service Compatible formats, which transmit additional information to build a 3D picture, while using the same bandwidth to provide a regular high definition image. No wonder the conference is concentrating on the production aspects of 3D, it may come down to how the content is captured.
So a visit to the 3D4YOU alongside BBC Research & Development might be worthwhile. The 3D4YOU project is working to develop the key elements of a practical 3D television system, particularly, the definition of a 3D delivery format and guidelines for a 3D content creation process.
Then we have the 3D User Interface, which may or may not be 3D according to your viewpoint (and the delivery), but just goes to underline what is happening in the world of user interface and content discovery. NDS remains a leader in this field, but there is also work being done by OpenTV (now firmly under Nagra’s roof), and TiVo, which has newboy status, again.
At the same time don’t overlook the role of the receiver maufacturers, such as ADB, Echostar, Netgem, Humax and Pace in putting their own efforts into the look and feel of the pay-TV experience. Netgem in particular has been successful in developing its own look at feel for a hybrid television offer in the process of being deployed by operators including Monaco Telecom and Telstra.
Their deployments will be an essential part of multiscreen solutions that take in TV, PC and mobile, yes, it’s mobile TV’s last stand, again. For multiscreen we should maybe turn first to Motorola and Cisco, with their experience of the US market, but for the European twist this is where the experience of the former Tandberg Television comes into play with the telco skills of Ericsson.
Hybrid will undoubtedly be one of the buzzwords of IBC 2010 through a combination of Canvas, HbbTV and direct proprietary systems. The comparison between the BBC-led Project Canvas and the Franco-German HbbTV may turn out to be erroneous. Is the real comparison between the MHEG-5 middleware, now firmly an international proposition after 10 years in the UK, and HbbTV? Judge for yourself on the S&T and Ocean Blue stands, among the few to offer both, as well as the many opportunities to see HbbTV in action.
After the success of the Kymera Magic Wand TV on Dragon’s Den – the TV remote gained an investment of £200,000 – it may be wise to check what is happening elsewhere in remote control land. From the stylish elegance of ruwido through to Universal Electronics there is a clear desire to integrate service with remote. This extends as far as the Ericsson remote tablet device that effectively moves some of those on screen applications into the palm of your hand. Widgets it would seem are so last year.
Universal and the Philips spin-off uWand already have wand-type devices, so don’t be surprised if you see a Dragon wandering around the RAI declaring for that reason, he’s out.