HbbTV on Android TV with Chromium
Development Activities on HbbTV
According to the EBU approximately 93% of the connected TV for sale support HbbTV. This means HbbTV is a must if you want to provide a state-of-the-art TV experience. This is why we, as a member of the HbbTV Association constantly continue developing our HbbTV Solution and are striving for being compliant with the latest HbbTV standard.
Showcasing HbbTV on Android TV with Chromium
Android TV allows TV manufacturers and operators to build state of the art devices with a huge selection of available applications. The Android TV environment provides the user a very good coverage of video-on-demand content, independent from the linear broadcast.
HbbTV 2 Inter-device Media Synchronisation feature using our Inaris HbbTV Solution
HbbTV Inter-Device Media Synchronisation
With HbbTV 2, broadcasters are able to provide their viewers synchronised media content on companion devices. Use cases are for example second camera perspectives of a sports event or sign language speakers for hearing impaired people.
To investigate these and other use cases and to demonstrate a technical solution for this new feature, we decided to work on this topic within a master thesis. One of the outcomes was an Android application using the ExoPlayer to synchronise with an HbbTV Terminal, running the Inaris HbbTV Solution.
HbbTV Operator Applications
The HbbTV Specification Group is currently in the final phase of working on the Operator Application Standard, which was initially started in early 2016. The concepts and mechanisms are already defined and first specification reviews have been started. The new HbbTV standard will allow network operators to provide Operator Applications including their look and feel as well as portals on any device that is compliant to this standard. We are convinced that this new HbbTV standard will help to provide a better user experience and new services on many networks. Having this in mind, we are actively contributing to the new standard and looking forward to the first release.
Automatic testing with HbbTV Test Suite V9.0
In December 2016, the HbbTV Testing Group released the new version 9.0 of the official HbbTV Test Suite. Starting with this release, the HbbTV Test Suite includes also tests for HbbTV 2 implementations. Meanwhile, the updated version 9.1 which contains a number of additional and corrected tests has been released as well.
We at TARA Systems have already started to integrate the new Test Suite into our continuous integration process to run it fully automatically every night in Jenkins. This is an important step to verify our Inaris HbbTV Solution, also for HbbTV 2 features.
26th HbbTV Interoperability Workshop
TARA Systems participated in the 26th HbbTV Interoperability Workshop at IRT (Insitiut für Rundfunktechnik) in Munich to meet app developers and manufacturers to test the interoperability of HbbTV terminals and HbbTV applications. For this workshop, we focused on testing the interoperability of our HbbTV 2.0 Companion Screen implementation with HbbTV and companion applications.
Inaris HbbTV Solution now supports the HbbTV 2.0 Companion Screen feature
In collaboration with the Institut für Rundfunktechnik, we have set-up a demonstration on how the HbbTV 2.0 Companion Screen feature can be used by companion applications. The demonstration shows an enhanced version of the ARD Mediathek on an Android tablet interacting with an HbbTV capable set-top box running the Inaris HbbTV Solution. This allows the consumer to browse and select live channels as well as on-demand media content in the companion application and directly cast it to the TV screen. The playback can be controlled from the second screen application.
This demonstration was shown at IRT's booth at Medientage 2016 in Munich (25-27 October) with the friendly assistance of Mr. Klaus Merkel (IRT).
HbbTV 2.0 Media Synchronisation and Companion Screen Release
During the last months, we concentrated on the development of the HbbTV 2.0 features Media Synchronisation and Companion Screen. Now, we are happy to confirm the release date of these two components to be Q4/2016. The first products using the Inaris HbbTV 2.0 extensions are expected to be launched in Q1/2017.
The new components will be available as an upgrade for the Inaris HbbTV 1.5 Solution and as an extension to third party HbbTV solutions. To give you a feeling about the integration effort, we provide an API preview for both components on request. Please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us and evaluate the best way to upgrade or extend your product with HbbTV 2.0.
Performance Improvement of End-to-End Streaming Solutions with HbbTV
Good streaming performance is an important aspect for HbbTV video on-demand and live services delivered via broadband. To analyse, classify, and improve the user experience of these services, we cooperated and advised a master thesis the goal of which was to build an automated testing environment for End-to-End streaming solutions. This environment was built on our Inaris HbbTV Solution running on a Broadcom based customer platform. On server side, various streaming servers, e.g. Flussonic, were used for verification.
The outcome of this master thesis has been published by IEEE with the title "Automated Performance Testing of End-to-End Streaming Solutions over HbbTV Architecture". The paper can also be downloaded here (Section B, paper ID B21).
Automatic testing of the Inaris HbbTV Solution in Jenkins
We now fully automated our continuous integration environment Jenkins to enable the daily execution of the HbbTV Test Suite. Take a look at the following video to learn more about our testing process:
TARA Systems contributes to the HbbTV 2.0 Operator Extension
The HbbTV 2.0 Operator Applications working group started their activities with a face-to-face meeting in May 2016 in London. We from TARA Systems participated at this meeting and also at the bi-weekly conference calls that are currently established.
The goal of the Operator Application working group is defining the mechanisms of how a network operator can provide HbbTV applications that extend or replace parts of the native TV User Interface. This allows a network operator to provide additional services and a uniform look and feel on any TV device based on HbbTV technology. Furthermore, this extension is intended to keep the compatibility to HbbTV applications provided by the broadcaster. We will continue to contribute our expertise to reach this goal.
For more information read the official press release of HbbTV Association from April 2016.
Extended architecture for HbbTV 2.0
For current and future customers of our Inaris HbbTV Solution, we already started to develop this next major step in the evolution of hybrid broadcast systems. The HbbTV 2.0 upgrade for the Inaris HbbTV Solution is expected to be available in Q4/2016.
The implementation of the HbbTV 2.0 features will be based on the current solution. The extension will be reflected in the high level architecture of our Inaris HbbTV SDK as shown in the following diagram.
Fully Automatic Execution of the Official HbbTV Test Suite v8.1.0
With the release of the current HbbTV test suite v8.1.0 the number of tests has increased from around 400 to over 950. To enable the daily execution of the HbbTV test suite, it was essential for us to further automate our test environment, which has been in use since the beginning of 2014:
By using an HDMI grabber, it is possible to record video and audio during the execution of tests, without experiencing losses. Picture and sound are then automatically analysed via special software tools. An image or sound reference is stored to this effect in the test system for each test, the results of which can be determined without the interaction of a tester. This step is a prerequisite for the HbbTV 2.0 test suite, which is expected to be extended by more than 480 tests.
Developing Companion Screen Functionality
The companion screen feature enables the interaction of an HbbTV terminal (e.g. Set-top box) with a companion device (e.g. Tablet device). It allows to launch a companion screen application or the other way around, remotely launching an HbbTV application. Additionally an “application-to-application communication” was defined. The conceptual work has been done to extend the existing modular Inaris HbbTV Solution to meet all these requirements.
Starting work on Media Synchronisation
Multi-stream and inter-device media synchronisation: Within HbbTV 2.0 it is defined how streams delivered via broadcast and via broadband can be synchronised. For example, synchronising audio delivered via broadband to broadcast video for watching a video with soundtracks in other languages. This is now also enabled across devices. Based on the experience gained within the HBB-NEXT, the Inaris HbbTV Solution will be extended for media synchronisation. TARA has started to work on this feature.
Inaris HbbTV using Chromium without CE-HTML
The HbbTV standard requires a browser supporting the CE-HTML standard. As there are very few browsers that support CE-HTML we investigate the possibility of replacing the CE-HTML functionality with a standard HTML-5 rendering engine. For this reason we integrated Chromium in our HbbTV Solution and tested it with available HbbTV applications to find out how much of the CE-HTML features are actually used. We are now identifying the CE-HTML features that are not covered by Chromium and evaluate which can be replaced using standard HTML-5 technology.
23rd HbbTV Interoperability Workshop
TARA Systems participates in the 23rd HbbTV Interoperability Workshop at IRT (Insitiut für Rundfunktechnik) in Munich to meet app developers and manufacturers to test the interoperability of HbbTV terminals and HbbTV applications. This time we present our integration of Chromium in our HbbTV solution in order to investigate if the currently needed CE-HTML functionality can be replaced.
InarisDASH gets HbbTV 2.0 compliant
TARA Systems participates in ANOPAS - a research project for application oriented optimisation of media streaming with MPEG-DASH and extends its MPEG-DASH client InarisDASH with features required by HbbTV 2.0. The project partners are Fraunhofer Fokus and Technische Universität Berlin.
Learn more about ANOPAS
DASH client solution InarisDASH
MPEG-DASH, a technology that enables adaptive, bandwidth-dependent streaming of media content, is part of the HbbTV 1.5 specification. In order to support this standard with our HbbTV Solution, we have developed our own MPEG-DASH client solution InarisDash.
Developing an interactive, global iTV platform
TARA Systems participates in the Global ITV project, where several European and Brazilian companies, organisations, and research institutions have set themselves the goal of developing an interactive, global iTV platform and achieve the coexistence, interoperability, and convergence of HbbTV and Ginga.
As partners we provide a set-top box prototype based on our Inaris TV Middleware and our Inaris HbbTV Stack.
Read more about the Global ITV project
Semi-automatic Execution of the Official HbbTV Test Suite
Despite our automatic execution, a complete test run of the official HbbTV test suite can take up to four hours, whereby a large number of tests had to be checked manually in real time. Accordingly, an employee was tied up for the entire duration of this.
After the expansion of our test environment in the form of a test manager, the test suite execution and the corresponding human evaluation no longer need to be carried out simultaneously. During the test run, artifacts in the form of records of the screen contents are automatically created, which can be evaluated later on, thereby saving time. The test result is summarised in an automatically generated test report.