Pieces of media technology that will shape your living room…


What is cooking in the labs of the TV and web players ? This is what the Fraunhofer Institute FOKUS has attempted to unveil to the 160 attendees during Media Web Symposium, held last week in Berlin.

Fraunhofer Institute is the best in class research institute in Europe, located in germany, having a strong link with the industry. This Web & Media Symposium gathered a wide range of actors, from the hardware to the service area, including the mobile network operators, browser manufacturer and TV or mobile makers. Each of them share its strategy or learnings about the screen usages. Here are some pieces of technology that may change your usage of screens, from your living room, at work, or in  mobility.

Smart TV revolution : not one screen, but multiple screens.

TVs are not anymore a screen, they are a platform, which user can interact with. Video on demand, program guide, applications (including your mail, your social media, your favorite games), web portals to propose content. Anything can land now on your TV, as mentionned by the different standardization organisations represented during the 2 days (Open IP TV forum [1], newly born DASH Industry Forum [2], W3C web & TV Interest Group [3], HbbTV [4]). And HTML5 is definitely part of the possible technology to be used to present services as mentionned Smart TV Alliance, a group of industrials willing to gather developers and service providers to make sure services can be deployed in an interoperable way.

TVs are not anymore standalone devices, they are interacting with other devices, other screens. The usages which are not anymore challenged by the industry is the fact that you may start your day by watching your TV at home, then do the same on your smartphone in the tube and end with a short game arriving in the office on your computer. All those screens must be synched to the same subscription. In addition, you can think about usage of several screens at the same time : your smart phone is hosting the remote controller of your TV set, or your smartphone and the tablet of your boyfriend are used to play a game on your TV set… This makes that applications must now be splittable and synchronized real time. How can you do that ? You need to have a robust mean to discover and share services across devices (and this is what W3C is working on with Web APIs such as Raw Socket and Service Discovery). You need also to be able to split the HTML5 code of your apps into several pieces, targeting different devices, one part for the screen, the other for the remote controler (and this is what NTT Labs demonstrated).

Multiple screens, but also your body.

Another usage which is entering now is the coupling of gesture detection with screens. Some examples : Sven Haiges @hansamann from Hybrisdemonstrated a new shopping experience :a large screen on which you can surf thanks to gesture, detected by a kinect, the famous gesture sensor. Once you have filled your digital bag, you can collect your item on your smartphone via the NFC capabilities of the system, and end your purchase on a store or on line (video). A purely web story. In the corporate domain, Alcatel Lucent with Olivier Martinot demonstrated how web presentation across different locations could be much more efficient and interactive with the addition of live images of presenterr on the remote attendees screens. Much more efficient and flexible then webcam-only usage. Here again the underlying technology for deploying such service was HTML5 with Web RTC and kinect integration.

Multiple screens, your body, … and the third dimension.

LG reminded the public that the 3D waves would soon be the basics of watching content. Any content. Picture, movie, clips. And if you want the public and the services to enjoy the 3D, you really need to align all the W3C specifications so support stereoscopic video. This is the purpose of a WG in W3C named the 3dweb which aims to upgrade specifications.

After this walk into the labs of the different organization making the TV market, you may guess that your 2D single screen strategy is about to change !

[1] Open IP TV Forum http://www.oipf.tv/

[2] Dash Industry Forum http://dashif.org

[3] W3C Web & TV  Interest Group http://www.w3.org/2011/webtv/

[4] HbbTV http://www.hbbtv.org/

Note : picture by Zellaby under Creative Common.

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