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Interactive Tools for Broadcast Directors

We move on to Janez Zaletelj, whose paper at EuroITV 2009 focusses on real-time viewer feedback in TV production, here in the context of the 2008 Olympic Games. Traditionally, in sports broadcasting, broadcast directors have no feedback from viewers whatsoever; adding such feedback channels, however, enables them to check the viewer acceptance of content, make changes accordingly, and otherwise communicate with the audience.

The project used IPTV for this purpose; four interlinked sub-channels carryng different content and allowing user votes as well as information flashes from the producers, were made available within the overall Olympic Games channel. The system was able to gather viewer statistics on each of the channels and on what content ws being watched, and this was able to be correlated with viewer profiles (gathered in some detail for the specific purpose of this prototype study).

Text Input Methods for Interactive TV Systems

We begin the next session at EuroITV 2009 with Gijs Geleijnse from Philips. He notes that many of the new innovations in the interactive TV area will require new user interfaces - for example for text entry on television screens. Ideally this would happen without adding yet another device to the living room (i.e., not another remote control...).

Gijs's study examined a number of options for this - multi-tap (SMS style), an on-screen keyboard, and a regular computer keyboard. It evaluated the usability as well as the enjoyability of such technologies - and the standard computer keyboard won out on both measures.

New Controls for Viewing Sports Television

The third speaker in this session at EuroITV 2009 is Stephen Lynn, who shifts our focus to using multimedia annotations to provide a different sports viewing experience, initially for American Football. Currently, such TV content is accessed mainly still through the digital video recorder (DVR), and its most commonly used functionality remains fast forward and rewind, which is often frustrating to use.

Using annotations, there may be an opportunity to move towards other, more salient forms of random access to specific points in a game - accessing and rewatching specific plays or game phases, for example (also from multiple camera angles), and accessing the game statistics for a specific play, for example. At the same time, such controls must still be able to be used in a 'lean-back' mode that is typical for the conventional television experience.

Watch-and-Comment Functionality for Multimedia Metadata Annotation

Vivian Genaro Motti is the next speaker at EuroITV 2009, and she continues the semantic theme. She begins, though, by highlighting the shift towards ubiquitous computing, which is allows for a capture-and-access process - capturing everything in the environment of the user, and accessing this in the context of later use (used e.g. to document meetings). Such material may then also be further annotated, of course, augmenting captured video with comments, information, and other details.

This, then, enables user collaboration, even a kind of social TV based on iDTV technologies. This utilises a watch-and-comment (WAC) approach which captures individual user comments and generates annotated interactive video files. A technology developed by the present project, the WaCTool, uses digital ink, text, and voice for the creation of such metadata, provides text-based chat functionality, and generates annotated video files. Such collaboration enables group communication and creates enriched content, which may be useful in a variety of contexts.

Extracting User-Generated Multimedia Metadata

The post-lunch session here at EuroITV 2009 is the one that my paper is in as well, so I've refrained from sampling the fine Belgian beers available during lunch. We start with Marcelo Manzato, whose interest is in the peer annotation of multimedia content. Digital television makes it easier for user to interact with multimedia content, and this is happening for example through YouTube and similar services, of course, as well as through the proliferation of mobile devices (and the necessary adaptation and personalisation of content for such contexts).

Towards Open Business Models

Finally in this session at EuroITV 2009, we come to Sander Smit. His interest is in interactive networked multimedia experiences, combining TV, Web, and mobile communication. Such combination is not easy given the different histories of such technologies, and yet there is a strong push towards convergence here. Additionally, there is a push towards open service models, away from the proprietary telecom-driven frameworks of the past.

This involves the roll-out of personalisation and social networking elements in many contexts, using a variety of technological channels (Internet, mobile, broadcasting) to access available content and services. Such services themselves constitute a bundle of previously separate services, which are now combined and offered as a single service proposition to users. As a result, the service domain will become increasingly complex - which not least also means that managing information, privacy, and security becomes increasingly difficult. On the flip side, there are also substantial new opportunities for advertising.

Business Models for Social TV

The third speaker in this EuroITV 2009 session is Sander Limonard, who explores the potential for the development of a 'social TV' experience (and the underlying business models). The market in this area remains very immature so far, and business opportunities are still being explored; positioning models in the value network is critical, as is the link with functional architecture.

There are two major service concepts here: first, those enabling social TV experiences, which variously enable media-enriched communication within social networks (e.g. by sharing videos or tracking the co-presence of distributed users by showing whether other friends are watching the same TV channel) or communication-enriched media (e.g. by aggregating viewer ratings, persistent and shareable user profiles, or building on co-presence by adding direct communication features).

Incentives and Disincentives for Switching to iDTV

Wendy van den Broeck is next at EuroITV 2009, and shifts our focus towards interactive digital TV (iDTV). Is such technology appropriated by consumers, and how? The transition of TV is a dynamic interplay between top-down policies and bottom-up consumer interests; this takes place against the backdrop of European policy towards analogue switch-off and other technological changes.

In Flanders, for example, the analogue terrestrial signal has been switched off (which was no major problem as 97% of viewers were using cable anyway). DTV cable companies now have some 1.2 million subscribers, with another 70,000 served by digital satellite providers. Each of these providers offers additional channels, and the cable companies also provide on-demand content and additional interactive services.

HDTV and Beyond - Developing New Television Standards

The first paper session at EuroITV 2009 starts with Nils Walravens, whose focus is on the past, present,and future of HDTV in Europe. In Europe, only 20% of users currently own HD-ready screens, and only 5% view HD content at this point (so surprisingly, Australia seems to be ahead on this point - a sign of its growing prosperity over the past decade?).

HD emerged first in Japan, as a new analogue standard that was incompatible with existing TV standards; in Europe, HDTV was seen in the late 80s and early 90s as a lifeline for the television industry (struggling at the time), and there was a drive towards developing its own standards (which failed, due to poor policy decisions). European development failed to consult effectively within and beyond the industry; terrestrial transmission was impossible, not least because signal quality was poor; the standard remained analogue, not digital; and prototype devices were ugly and extremely expensive. And of course there was no attractive content which would drive user adoption. HDTV was translated as 'high-deficit television' as a result...


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