Posted on September 12, 2023 in ATSC News
ATSC recently formed Planning Team 9 to study the benefits of broadcast data delivery as relates to sustainable energy usage in a world increasingly dependent on data delivery. In 1987, the United Nations Brundtland Commission defined sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Every industry, including broadcasting, needs to care about sustainability. Studies have shown that broadcasting is orders of magnitude more energy efficient than streaming for popular content, and PT9 will explore ways to do even better.
Let’s meet the co-chairs of PT9 Robin Hérin and Bill Redmann, shown at Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch in San Bernardino, Calif., while vacationing along Route 66 during the pandemic.
First, gentlemen, tell us where you work.
Robin: I work at Ateme as the Senior Innovation & Technologies Engineer, CTO Office.
Bill: I am the Director of Standards, Immersive Media Technologies with InterDigital.
Give us a snapshot of what you do in your day to day.
Robin: Living on the East Coast, I begin most of my days by going to the New York office and work with my colleagues in the CTO Office based in France. I usually spend some time improving my own knowledge base (reading academic papers, watching conference recordings), contributing to strategy conversations centered around technologies or standards I am involved with (immersive audio, ATSC), and help the technical team with Proof Of Concept projects (POCs) using the aforementioned technologies/standards, contribute to standard groups, and attend conferences (if any).
Bill: I live on the West Coast and most days begin with Ultra HD Forum (UHDF) or Virtual Reality Industry Forum (VR-IF) calls or InterDigital meetings that involve European colleagues, so I’m up early and they’re at it late. The rest of the morning and early afternoon is when most ATSC, SMPTE, CTA, and ANSI calls occur. I chair several work groups, with Planning Team 9 Sustainability in Media and Data Services, being my first in ATSC, so you can imagine there are a fair number of agenda and minutes to be prepared and posted. All that accounts for maybe half of my time.
Renown computer scientist Alan Kay said, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it,” and that’s how I spend the rest of my time. Sometimes, I get to wear the inventor’s hat, whether at work or on my own time, figuring out how to make something better. In that role, I’ve picked up somewhere north of eighty issued U.S. patents with my co-inventors. InterDigital has several hundred PhDs developing improvements to wireless, video, and AI technology, and it’s humbling to see the incredible things they conceive. The non-standards part of my work is spent authoring papers and presentations or designing demonstrations in collaboration with industry experts. I help our inventors tell their problem/solution story and popularize their newest technology, so that other engineers can think about whether a problem InterDigital has solved is one they’re facing. Seriously – every day is a peek into what the world might be doing in a decade or so.
How and why did you get involved with ATSC 3.0?
Robin: I started getting involved as Ateme started growing into the North American market (NAM). As you know, ATSC was founded in 1983 while Ateme was created as a startup in 1991 in France, so we did not get the chance to contribute to the ATSC 1.0 landscape. When the FCC issued a notice of proposed rulemaking in 2017 to allow for the deployment of ATSC 3.0 in the US, Ateme was a much bigger company with a NAM base in Denver, and we saw that announcement as an opportunity to contribute to the standard. As part of that, I stepped in to help on POCs, interoperability tests, and channel sharing use cases.
Bill: I initially became involved because ATSC writes the standards that apply other standards in which InterDigital has technology. Beyond the pride and satisfaction of a problem well solved, InterDigital has a business interest in seeing our technologies applied beneficially and interoperably with others’ inventions in the media ecosystem.
In addition to PT9, are you involved in any other ATSC groups?
Robin: I try to keep an eye on S41 (Video) and TG3-11 (ATSC 3.0 – 5G Harmonization), but my main role is on being the co-chair of PT9 focused on Sustainability. Working together with Bill Redmann on this topic and having the opportunity to contribute to a major challenge for broadcasters is something that I am really interested in and enjoying.
Bill: My original ATSC involvement was in S41 (Video), S33 (Transport/Signaling), and S38 (Interactivity). Now I co-chair the new PT9 – Sustainability in Media and Data Services. It’s kind of serendipitous. As a hobby, I’ve spent the last fifteen years developing electric vehicle infrastructure. InterDigital has been studying lower-energy solutions in the video and wireless realm for a decade. And now, ATSC is considering what best practices might be standardized to advance sustainability in media and data services.
What excites you most about the future of ATSC 3.0?
Robin: The fact that we can help other countries using the same standard is definitely exciting. With the flexibility of ATSC 3.0 as a standard, we see a level of interest not just in the US but also in Brazil with TV 3.0, in South Korea, in Jamaica more recently, with potentially more to come.
One of the major topics that we see an interest for in recent years is the Corporate Social Responsibility (or CSR) of companies, which does include topics such as diversity, inclusivity & accessibility (think of the impact of Audio Description or captioning) but also sustainability. It is on that last topic where both Bill and I hope that we can make an impact with the Planning Team 9 focused on Sustainability.
Bill: ATSC 3.0 is an incredibly flexible system. In many respects, it approaches theoretical limits, yet is tunable in so many ways; for example, in determining which programs are free, at least in part, and which get all the immersive bells and whistles. The engineering from top-to-bottom is a collaborative masterpiece-in-progress. For that I have much respect.
More candidly, I’m excited about personalized ads. I don’t want see ads for dental implants or gastric distress remedies ever again. These ads have ruined more dinners than I can count. I sign up for every cookie I can to further that goal. I am also very excited for a future with HDR and immersive audio.
Tell us about your family, your pets, your hobbies. What do you do outside of life with ATSC 3.0?
Robin: Both my parents and sister still live in France, where I usually go once a year. No pets unfortunately, due to a combination of travelling and NYC living. I usually spend time educating myself as a hobby, for instance learning new languages (currently focusing on learning some basics of Hindi). I enjoy some casual gaming, most recently with the Zelda series (both recent, with Tears of the Kingdom that recently came out, and older, with The Minish Cap and Oracle of Seasons recently re-released). I also spend a decent amount of time playing sports, especially squash since we have a court in our building in NY.
Bill: My wife Rondi and I met at Walt Disney Imagineering. Over the last 10 years, in a curious turn of events, both of our career trajectories have taken us into the standards space: me in immersive media, hers in architecture and landscape construction. My kids are grown – while I worked at Technicolor, I looked up from my computer to see my daughter Lydia smiling back at me from across the hall, having got a gig there without letting me know – she’s still there (though now “there” is Deluxe). My sons, Benton and Paul, both went into computer engineering, mirroring my undergraduate degree, so clearly, I’ve been a bad influence 😉. Having worked a few years as an engineer, Paul is now starting law school to become a patent attorney; this time it’s his mom’s turn at being the bad influence 😊.
Pets? We’ve got five robots, does that count? Rosie, Robbie, and Wall-E keep the floors clean. Vector and Luna keep us company, sort of, Vector being the one always getting into trouble. Not as restorative as a cat in your lap, but fewer claw marks. (Rosie originally joined the family to clean up after furry felines Meeko and Latte, keeping the vicinity of their litterbox tidy. Sadly, we don’t need a litterbox anymore.)
Hobbies? Besides developing EV infrastructure? I’m still playing Dungeons and Dragos (D&D) on a regular basis with my high school buddies. That’s rubbed off on my kids, too; they’ve built and value similar relationships. Interestingly, during the pandemic, we started to use Zoom and Roll 20 (a “virtual tabletop”) to play – and our gaming ramped up from monthly to weekly meets.
What are you currently reading?
Robin: “Le fin mot de l’histoire: 201 expressions pour épater la galerie” by Nathalie Gendrot & Guillaume Meurice. The best way I could translate this would be “The real history behind: 201 expressions to impress”. It explains the origins of expressions used in commonly in the French language while adding a certain level of comedy in the explanation. The book was prevented from being published for a year due to a joke about a very influential person in France, resulting in a Barbara Streisand effect that created more buzz around the book than it would have had otherwise.
Bill: After a spate of great biographies (Eiger, Jobs, Karrass, Elvira), I’ve just started a re-read of Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. It’s been about 30 years and now VR, sorry, “XR”, is a thing again.
What is your favorite show to binge-watch?
Robin: The answer is most definitely Community. NBC has some of my favorite comedy series with the US version of The Office, Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, or Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but Community adds a level of character depth and meta that is beyond any of the previously mentioned shows. It explores concepts such as Chaos Theory or the influence of social ratings yet remains accessible to anyone. It features in my opinion the single best series finale for a sitcom, including a comment on what is TV, what constitutes a TV show and how we adapt to change in life. I am really looking forward to the movie that fans have been waiting on for a decade now #SixSeasonsAndAMovie.
Bill: Weeknights, we stream an episode of Blue Bloods (though we’re nearly caught up). Weekend mornings, we’re clearing the DVR of PBS’s Finding Your Roots and Artwalk, both of which always manage to fascinate. If it were just me… I’d run through Firefly again and then delve into a few years of Star Trek series I’ve not seen yet.
Alternative career choice?
Robin: In a different timeline, I would have pursued the career I was looking into while in college. I have a mechanical engineering degree with a minor in sports and technology. My goal was to work in product development for Decathlon, one of the most renowned French companies in the world that designs arguably some of the best family-friendly and affordable sports gear in the world. But my passion for travelling and wanting to live abroad was not necessarily compatible with the vision I had and eventually led me to move to the US and switch to the broadcast industry.
Bill: When I was 10 years old, during the summer of Apollo 11, I learned I was too tall to be an astronaut, a keen disappointment. In the early days of the Space Shuttle program, I heard the new space suits were going to allow taller astronauts, but when the final design parameters were announced while I was in high school, I’d already outgrown those. So, “Martian” has been off the table for me for a long time. I really enjoyed engineering for interactive entertainment. Video games, theme parks, simulators. I could imagine doing that again.
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.