Posted on February 1, 2012 in ATSC News
CES 2012 put a lot of ATSC’s work into perspective. “Smart TV” is progressing from a high-end, almost exploratory product to a function that is increasingly common in mid-range HDTV models. Recommendation engines, search and social network linkages are becoming increasingly common. And with the re-launch of Google TV, there will be a lot of industry competition and consumer marketing of Smart TV.
For broadcasters and content owners, there are many branding implications as the Smart TV home screen becomes “the new tuner” and as recommendation and search become “the new program guide.” A broadcaster’s “location on the dial” and “channel up / channel down” navigation don’t feel like they will have the relevance that they have historically had. For ATSC and our members, I believe that the emergence of “Smart TV” is a great opportunity for standards that can take it to the next level. So far, it seems like products are revolutionizing content discovery, streaming delivery and making social linkages, but’s that’s just the beginning.
Of special interest to ATSC members, it seems to me that the real revolution of Smart TV will involve enhancing and personalizing content to make viewing on a Smart TV a different user experience than traditional TV viewing. And a really Smart TV should be able to enhance content regardless of whether the video and audio are being delivered over an IP connection or over a traditional cable, satellite or broadcast channel. Developing ATSC 2.0 standards with this vision in mind can enable a future where we preserve the value and the economy of scale of the current infrastructure, but enhance the viewing experience via the internet. That seems like a winning approach for everyone in the TV ecosystem.
There is an undeniable trend to have “content in the cloud,” but DISH’s introduction of the “Hopper” Kangaroo-themed DVR with 2 TB (terabatyes) of disc storage and the ability to simultaneously record all four major broadcast networks’ prime time lineups was a big development. And so were the various home networking and “slinging” capabilities that are increasingly common in various set-top-boxes.
Where does the cloud end, anyway? As Lynn pointed out, it’s really the ability to access content from multiple devices that is becoming important. In fact, if you stop and think that it doesn’t really matter where the content is stored, then it’s having the rights management in the cloud that becomes the crucial element of increased flexibility for consumers. The UltraViolet consortium is attempting to build open standards for a purchased content ecosystem, but it’s worth thinking about what gaps and complementary functions ATSC might be able to fill.
It sure looks like 2012 will see the real consumer launch of Mobile DTV, enabled by the ATSC A/153 standard. Both Dyle and Mobile 500 demonstrated receiver products and got lots of great press coverage. And the emergency alerting demonstration from PBS, LG, Harris and Roundbox really showed the potential power of mobile broadcasting. In ATSC, we should continue to work on the ongoing evolution of mobile – just think, when we started work on ATSC-mobile, tablets hadn’t yet been introduced! It just shows how quickly everything must now move, including the pace of developing new standards.
Finally, with manufacturers like LG showing 4K displays and Sharp’s 8K prototype, it seems clear that another move to higher resolution is just as inevitable as was the move from standard definition to high definition. In fact, Sony’s smartphone had an HD class display, so the future could even be that “HD is the new mobile.”
That should give us a lot to think about in ATSC 3.0. On one hand, the ability to reliably and robustly reach mobile devices will be a crucial capability that can only be accomplished wirelessly. On the other hand, increased resolution is inevitable in cable, satellite and internet delivery and broadcasters will surely strive for equal footing. Perhaps ATSC 3.0 will finally take us to multi-layered transmission and coding systems?
For our current initial phases of developing ATSC 3.0, it’s crucial that we establish the right requirements and understand the latest developments and promising possibilities in the basic transmission and compression technologies, so be sure to participate in the TG3 meetings.
Posted in ATSC News
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The Advanced Television Systems Committee, Inc., is an international, non-profit organization developing voluntary standards and recommended practices for digital terrestrial broadcasting. ATSC member organizations represent the broadcast, broadcast equipment, motion picture, consumer electronics, computer, cable, satellite, and semiconductor industries. ATSC also develops digital terrestrial broadcasting implementation strategies and supports educational activities on ATSC standards.