TARA Systems participated in an EU – Brazilian strategic partnership to develop a globally interoperable iTV platform

In the context of the Global ITV project, several European and Brazilian companies, organisations, and research institutions have set themselves the goal of developing an interactive, global iTV platform. The first step was to achieve the coexistence, interoperability, and convergence of HbbTV and Ginga. With the final project review in February 2016, this goal has been reached and the project was successfully completed.

We as a partner in this project provided a set-top box prototype based on our Inaris TV Middleware and our Inaris HbbTV Solution. During the project, we integrated the Ginga stack provided by our Brazilian partners into our environment. Due to the close cooperation of all project partners, we were able to show an impressive demonstration of the coexistence of HbbTV and Ginga in the final review.

What was the goal of GLOBAL ITV?

During the transition from analogue to digital TV various systems for interactive digital television have been developed - all with the goal of providing the user with more multimedia content and services. The most important in Europe are HbbTV, MHEG-5, MHP, and in South America - in particular Brazil - Ginga.

The various iTV and Smart TV systems are based on different technologies, requirements, and country-specific standards, and are not compatible with each other. If content or service is to be made available worldwide, it is necessary for each of them to be technically prepared.

The scope of this project was therefore the development of an interoperability scheme for the coexistence of multiple interactivity and connected TV solutions on different digital TV platforms based on current web technologies.

Which goals were reached in the GLOBAL ITV project?

On the one hand the result was a long-term strategy outlining the path toward a standardised global hybrid iTV platform based on existing standards should look like and, on the other hand, a technical specification that was tested and evaluated by means of a technical prototype and from a user's point of view.

Furthermore, a transatlantic GLOBAL ITV Consortium was set up that consists of eighteen partners, from universities, companies, organisations, and research institutes. All with an extensive background and experience in Interactive TV from Brazil and European countries.

What role did TARA Systems play?

We brought over 25 years of experience in the area of TV software and knowledge from our specification activity in the HbbTV standardisation process, and assisted in the specification of the client's system. Based on our Inaris Middleware and our Inaris HbbTV Solution we were creating the set-top box prototype, which was used for user tests and demonstration.

For this, we extended Inaris that besides the DVB signal, the ISDB-Tb used in Brazil can also be decoded. Furthermore, we integrated the Inaris HbbTV Solution with our Brazilian partner's Ginga solution. Due to an extension of our HbbTV Solution, we now support simultaneous signalling of two iTV systems on the same service. This made it possible to test the interoperability by starting Ginga applications from HbbTV applications, as an example to show the coexistence and interaction of both systems.

In parallel to the integration work on the dual stack architecture with HbbTV and Ginga-NCL, we were further approaching a truly global iTV system, by integrating a pure browser-based application environment. In the end, this goal has been reached by signalling and displaying pure HTML5 applications on the set-top-box prototype.

What does GLOBAL ITV mean for TARA Systems?

First of all it was a great experience to participate in a transatlantic project with many partners, and to establish contacts throughout the world.

At the same time with this project we were making Inaris fit for ISDB-Tb, so that it can now also be used in Brazil.

Above all, within the framework of GLOBAL ITV we were evaluating transition scenarios from one iTV technology to another. The trend in Europe is clearly going towards HbbTV. Italy and UK already announced to move from MHEG-5 and MHP to HbbTV 2.0 in the near future. For products that will be deployed in such transitioning markets, it is essential to think about interoperability and coexistence of two iTV systems. Our HbbTV Solution is now also prepared for those transition scenarios.

The project partners

The project partners are IRT, A-CING, Fraunhofer, cellnex, Symelar, EBU, TDF, W3C and our Brazilian partners.

For more information visit the GLOBAL ITV's project website.

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