News: Inaris on Linux / RTOS
Found by Chance - Historical Teletext Pages
At the end of a year, people often tend to look back on good old times. This is what ARD has now done in a very special way and recovered a TV treasure in the process. We would like to draw your attention to the fact that ARD Text will be showing historical Teletext pages from the years 1987 to 1999 in the social networks in December, thus making exciting retrospectives of another time of great upheaval available.
For Teletext fans, there are some treasures to be discovered, such as pages from ARD/ZDF-Text, HR-Text, ORB/MDR-Text as well as test runs of GDR television. For us at TARA, due to our more than 30 years of experience in that field, this is once again an opportunity to look back at our own history that connects us to Teletext. It is outstanding how many fast-moving developments have come and gone while Teletext is still in demand. Considering today’s information availability, Teletext is at the beginning of years of progressive development, leading up to Teletext availability on current smart devices. We are therefore proud to accompany this piece of TV cult with our technical background since 1990 and we are happy about the many historical insights. For those interested in our journey with Teletext, we recommend our essay about the 40th anniversary of Teletext as well as our Teletext news page.
Extended Media Player Monitoring with Splunk
One key feature of our Inaris Media Player is the ability to monitor and analyse the playback in the field. To make use of the most powerful tools for analysis, we extended our Media Player by direct integration with the popular Splunk monitoring service.
The Splunk integration is designed as an end-to-end solution and is independent of the application which embeds our Media Player. For evaluation of the reported logs, the necessary Splunk dashboards are available as a starting point and can be easily adapted to the specific use case in the product. This allows you to monitor the playback experience right from the beginning of the media player integration.
PVR is Now Available for the Ghana HD+ Decoder
The Ghana HD+ Decoder received its third major feature upgrade within one year: After TARA finished the development, SES started to ship a new software version that supports PVR and the Content Search feature. The software has been made available via an over-the-air update by mid-September.
The newly released PVR feature allows recording of single and series programmes with manual scheduling or from the grid EPG, playback-while-recording and time-shift. For storage, USB hard disks as well as USB flash drives starting from 4GB capacity are supported. In combination with a valid HD+ subscription, the HD+ Decoder provides best in class PVR-functionality with premium picture quality.
In addition to the PVR feature, the new software further supports an innovative method to search for HD+ programmes by genre.
We at TARA are happy to partner with SES and Ghana HD+ in this project and implement the HD+ Decoder software based on the Inaris DVB Middleware and TVolution Turnkey Solution for an outstanding TV experience in Ghana. Have a look at the latest Ghana HD+ video publication!
Launching and Enhancing the Ghana HD+ Decoder
Only half a year ago, SES launched their HD+ service in Ghana to deliver premium TV picture quality to Ghanaian households. We are contributing to this project by providing the major part of the software for the HD+ Decoder.
Today, we are looking back to an intensive and successful launch phase in December 2020 and the first months of maintenance and feature extensions. Since we started with the preparations for the launch, we are closely collaborating with the Ghana HD+ team to ensure a high-quality product.
Our role includes development and support: The team in Ghana informs us about the experience with the software in the field, submits requests on feature extensions and distributes updated software versions we have provided. Even though we have already received positive feedback on the user interface and user experience, we are always keen on improving and simplifying the look and feel of the HD+ Decoder. Looking at the core functionalities of the software, we already started to prepare major feature extensions which will be available later this year.
We are thankful to be part of such a great activity in Ghana and we are looking forward to the development of the next features and improvements of the Ghana HD+ Decoder.
Pre-integration of Synamedia (formerly Cisco) VQE Client
We have now pre-integrated the VQE Client from Synamedia (formerly Cisco) into our Inaris Media Player. The VQE Client is a widely used solution to support IPTV services. Besides receiving the RTP multicast stream, the VQE Client also supports fast channel change (FCC) and retransmission of lost multicast packets, based on UDP unicast.
We now support all functions known from our DVB solution, such as Teletext, DVB subtitles, PVR recordings and even functions such as HbbTV also for our IPTV solution with the VQE Client as a data source.
Feature Extensions on the Montage SoC
The Montage SoC is a very attractive SoC for STBs in cost-sensitive markets. While the hardware costs are low, customers are still demanding a high level of functionality in their products.
We at TARA Systems have now extended our supported feature set in the Inaris TV Solution on Montage RTOS and Linux platforms to fulfil our customers’ needs. This has led to a significantly improved user experience of the PVR ready and timeshift feature on Montage Linux platforms.
HD Television for Ghana
December 2020 / January 2021
Improved picture quality and easier distribution of new TV content for a West African country – this intention brought the already long-time collaborating partners of SES and TARA Systems together for an ambitious project that started back in 2019. This story – with its latest update in January 2021 – describing the roll-out of the HD Decoder in Ghana illustrates how SES introduces a product innovation in the HDTV sector nation-wide in Ghana – and how we as TARA Systems contribute to it.
Read our Success Story »
Integration of NAGRA CA with Inaris now certified on Montage SoC
On the Montage SoC, we have now successfully completed and certified the integration of our Inaris DVB/IPTV Solution and the NAGRA CA system. The integration was done for an RTOS based product which will be deployed into the market in Q4/2020. Inaris and our TV application “TVolution” will bring an exceptional TV experience with protected premium TV quality on a low cost platform to emerging markets.
Inaris based STB Solutions on Montage SoC
As porting of the Inaris DVB/IPTV Solution has been done last year on top of a real-time operating system, we have now also added support for Linux based deployments. With this and by using our reference application TVolution allows us to provide comprehensive STB solutions for a wide range of products based on the Montage SoC. We support zapping, PVR functionality, the NAGRA CA system, and extended features like monitoring and audience measurement. The last mentioned is also available for non-connected STBs as an external device attached via USB.
Inaris DVB/IPTV Solution ported to Montage SoC
To address also very price-sensitive STB markets, we have ported our Inaris DVB/IPTV Solution to the Montage chipset. On this chipset we are running our software on top of a real-time operating system to achieve very low flash and RAM usage. This allows our customers and partners to bring low-cost STB devices using a feature-rich and powerful DVB Solution into the market.
Using AI for Categorisation of TV Shows on Embedded Platforms
In the course of a master thesis, we investigated, how well the genre of TV shows can be automatically determined with the help of AI, based on their description texts. We used Keras as an abstraction layer for AI frameworks and trained a variety of neural networks with Tensorflow. After comparing different approaches and selecting the most suitable neural network, it was fine-tuned with hyper-parameter tuning.
The resulting neural network can be used to automatically categorise a large part of the TV shows with a very high degree of accuracy. The achieved performance is comparable to that of humans or even exceeds it.
Through further optimisations, the performance was increased to such a level, that the AI-based categorisation could be used even on an embedded platform. To demonstrate this the neural network was ported to the BCM97271T reference platform using TensorFlow Lite.
SES shows Analytics for VoD Everywhere
At IBC 2019, our partner SES demonstrated an analytics system that allows usage monitoring of their non-connected push VoD STBs. The data was provided by the analytics function of the Inaris DVB/IPTV Solution and transferred via USB flash drives to a Google Big Query database. To transfer the data for connected devices, the Pub/Sub service would be used instead.
The analytics views were built with Google Data Studio for a range of scenarios such as evaluation of the most viewed VoD movies on specific STBs. This system will allow VoD Everywhere operators to monitor the service usage and improve their content offering.
Inaris Supports Cloud-Based Analytics
Our Inaris DVB/IPTV Solution has now been extended to support cloud-based analytics systems. This is especially of interest for connected devices where it is intended to collect and analyse information about the system status and the user experience in real-time.
We developed a monitoring component that sends log messages from our Inaris solution permanently to the cloud using the Google Cloud Pub/Sub service. This allows seamless integration of our software stack with state of the art analytics tools like Google BigQuery and Data Studio. For non-connected devices we support collecting log messages on a local storage device for later import into BigQuery.
We are now integrating this technology into the HiSilicon based low-cost STB with VoD Everywhere support for our partner SES.
Premium Content with VoD Everywhere
In 2018, the SES VoD Everywhere platform has evolved from a demonstration vehicle to a ready to deploy full featured product. With Newland as an STB partner, the first customers will be served soon with premium VoD content over satellite. Due to the unmatchable feature set available on an ultra low-cost set-top box the potential customer base is mainly the emerging markets in Africa, Middle and South America. To protect the VoD content as well as the linear channels we are currently working on the NAGRA CA system integration within our Inaris DVB/IPTV Solution running on HiSi SoC.
VoD Everywhere shown at IBC 2018
At IBC 2018, our partner SES presented the VoD Everywhere solution on a HiSilicon based low cost STB platform. Besides of on-demand VoD content and Live Events, also the instant creation of Live Events and subsequent playback on the STB was shown at the SES booth.
VoD Everywhere on HiSilicon
VoD Everywhere is an end-to-end solution from SES to bring high quality content to set-top boxes for emerging markets, where no or only low bandwidth Internet connections are available. The content is pushed with the broadcast signal to the devices and stored locally for playback at any later time. We have now ported the VoD Everywhere STB solution to HiSilicon chipsets.
The porting includes all VoD Everywhere features from on-demand playback, live events and start over events using the Inaris HLS solution, up to multiscreen support. A demonstration on a STB provided by Newland can be seen on IBC at the SES booth 1.B51.
HLS for VoD Everywhere (HiSilicon)
VOD Everywhere is an end-to-end solution from SES to bring high quality content to set-top boxes for emerging markets, where no or only low bandwidth Internet connections are available. The content is pushed with the broadcast signal to the devices and stored locally. Besides classic push on-demand content also live events are supported.
In this case the content is provided as an HLS stream also in the broadcast signal. For playback of the HLS stream we use our Inaris HLS solution on a low-end HiSilicon Linux platform. Because our HLS Solution uses the available resources in an efficient way, it perfectly works with the memory and performance limitations.
VoD Everywhere Multiscreen feature
VoD Everywhere Multiscreen
The SES VoD Everywhere platform offers network operators the distribution of premium content without or limited Internet via satellite transmission to their customers. On the set-top box the content library is stored for being watched on the TV screen. With the new multiscreen extension, this content can now also be accessed from second screen devices like tablets. For this, we extended the set-top box functionality to serve VoD Everywhere content using the UPnP protocol. On top of this, a companion application for iOS was created by 3 Screen Solutions.
Concept and benefits of VoD Everywhere feature
VoD Everywhere with SES Video & MX1
One of the key features of the cooperation between SES and TARA Systems is the VoD Everywhere extension integrated in the STB application. To learn about the concept and benefits of VoD Everywhere, please have a look at this video published by SES.
PushVoD feature running on an MStar K5 based STB from SmarDTV
PushVoD feature integrated in Inaris
SES teams up with TARA Systems
SES has selected TARA Systems as strategic partner for end-to-end solutions for video broadcasting in emerging markets. SES offers a turnkey-solution for operators which includes also the client device for the consumers. For this, TARA contributes with its Inaris DVB Middleware.
Beside the standard TV features also VoD Everywhere has been integrated to bridge the lack of broadband internet connectivity in underserved areas and deliver a wide variety of rich on-demand content to consumers.
VoD Everywhere: Live Demo at IBC
The IBC live showcase will demonstrate how satellite distribution can provide an instantaneous and enriched video experience on demand – even in areas with no or limited broadband internet connectivity. Visit SES’ booth 1.B51 at this year’s IBC.
“This success in such a short time was amazing. I have been working in the STB industry for many years and I have not experienced such speedy achievement.”
– MStar team member
VoD Everywhere: LiveEvents and StartOver
The PushVoD technology can be used to provide a video-on-demand like experience on non-connected devices. In addition to that, the PushVoD system from Quadrille also supports the download of live event streams which has now been integrated in our client solution. This allows operators to broadcast selected live events independently of their linear TV signals.
On top of this, the StartOver feature has been realized where already running live events can be watched from the beginning of the event, without local PVR or internet connection. The access to LiveEvents and StartOver has been integrated into the PushVoD GUI and is currently available on the MStar SoC based platforms.
Nagra pre-integration with Inaris DVB/IPTV Middleware and TVolution on Broadcom
Nagra Pre-Integration on Broadcom
The Inaris DVB/IPTV Middleware has for many years been prepared for CA system integration. In former projects the integration and certification was done by our customers or partners. Now we have done the Nagra pre-integration with Inaris DVB/IPTV Middleware and TVolution entirely by ourselves. On the Broadcom reference board the content decryption is possible with smartcard-based as well as smartcard-less variants.
VoD Everywhere: PushVoD GUI Realisation
To meet common requirements for VoD offering, a new GUI design for STB was created in cooperation with our partner design agency coeno. The sophisticated user interface has been realised with our GUI technology Embedded Wizard, to enable high-performance and optimised memory usage on the dedicated low-cost STB for emerging markets.
PushVoD Content Reception
For PushVoD content reception, the push technology from Quadrille has been integrated. The video content incl. the corresponding meta-data are received via satellite and stored locally. It is now possible to browse in a data list and start the playback of the video content. This development step has been realised on a set-top box based on an MStar SoC. To enhance the user experience, a new GUI will be created (see above).
This video demonstrates Inaris TVolution on an MStar STB chipset.
Inaris DVB Middleware on MStar Chipsets
Our Inaris DVB Middleware is fully platform independent and runs already on various chipsets. This is achieved by using our Inaris Hardware Abstraction Layer which provides a high level API to access platform specific functionality.
We have now successfully ported our Hardware Abstraction Layer to run on latest MStar platforms using the MStar MI interface (Free-to-air/Zapping). Furthermore, we are about to start the pre-integration for the Nagra CA system on MStar chipsets. These activities allow us to cover even a wider range of device classes and additional markets with our Inaris DVB Middleware.
Teletext Server for OTT
In some cases (e.g. OTT) it may not be possible to transfer the Teletext data as part of the audio/video stream. With our Teletext Server solution, you can continue supporting Teletext in these environments. Learn more.
TV programme guide skill for Alexa
With Alexa, Amazon has provided a powerful environment to develop speech controlled services. We have taken a closer look at this and developed a TV programme guide skill for the major German TV services. We focused on getting the requested information for many channels in a quick way without long monologues by Alexa. The data is collected using the Inaris DVB/IPTV Solution from DVB-SI and pushed to the Amazon Web Services where also the Skill is executed.
Start to integrate Push VoD
For emerging markets a real Video on Demand (VoD) experience for the end user shall be realised – even with no broadband internet connection. Therefore the content will be pushed to the client via satellite. Using TVolution (based on Inaris DVB/IPTV Middleware) the Push VoD feature will be integrated by TARA in cooperation.
The process of NAGRA pre-integration with the Inaris DVB/IPTV Solution is ongoing. The goal is to support smartcard-less as well as smartcard-based solution for decryption. The content is received from a DVB frontend.
Presentation and Demonstrations at SES Industry Days
The annual SES Industry Days conference took place May 26-27 in Luxembourg. The two-day event provided the latest update on important satellite industry trends.
Our Managing Director Alexander Wass gave there a presentation on “Realising live TV on Digital Media Players (DMP) with broadcast feed from SAT>IP”.
In addition we demonstrated several DMP devices (Nexus Player, Amazon FireTV, AppleTV) for which we realised Live TV applications based on our SAT>IP solution.
35 Years of Teletext!
German weekly “Die Zeit” is marking the 35th anniversary of the Teletext information service with a special page in this week’s issue. Despite competition from the internet, Teletext still enjoys massive popularity, especially because of its ease of use. It is accessed by 11.7 million people in Germany each day. Last year during the Winter Olympics, Teletext even set a new record with 16.4 million visits in a single day. Almost every television set, including the latest Smart TVs, have the special software installed required to decode the Teletext signal. And about half of all the TVs in the world contain TARA Systems’ Teletext decoder solution.
Bayerischer Rundfunk has also broadcast a TV report about the 35th anniversary of Teletext and TARA Systems: Managing Director Alexander Wass tells of the beginnings of Teletext and how the Megatext chip made it possible to receive the then-new Teletext Level 2.5. Siemens, the chip maker at the time, and TARA Systems developed the chip and the necessary software in 1993. In response to the arrival of high-definition TVs in homes around the world, TARA Systems developed its own TrueType font for Teletext to further improve the appearance of the service. Read more about our Teletext Component.