Media Player and Streaming Technologies
WebVTT Subtitle Decoder Integrated with Inaris HLS Player
With HLS based OTT streaming DVB or Teletext subtitle formats used by broadcast services are no longer supported. Instead, HLS uses WebVTT for subtitles. We integrated the WebVTT subtitle decoder used by ExoPlayer with our Inaris HLS Player.
Our HLS Player is receiving the WebVTT files and passes them to the subtitle decoder running in a different process. With this approach, we achieve the combination of our secure and highly efficient HLS Player with an available WebVTT decoder used by Android TV.
Quality Indicator Supported by our HLS Player
For OTT streaming operators, it is of the highest importance to ensure that their customers always get premium quality of their content. Our HLS player supports adaptive streaming, where the customer is offered different quality levels – depending on the available bandwidth. With the Inaris HLS player, the application can now query the used quality level. Quickline is using this feature by displaying a small icon on the screen when due to bandwidth restrictions not the highest quality level is selected.
Bandwidth Measurement with Inaris HLS Player
For media streaming the available IP bandwidth is important to ensure a good quality of the video/audio playback, especially when WiFi is used. We extended our Inaris HLS Media Player to run in a bandwidth measurement mode. In this mode the HLS player downloads the media segments with the maximum possible speed and measures the available bandwidth.
This data can be used by the application during a first install to check the available bandwidth, and warn the user if it is too low. Bandwidth measurement can also be started explicitly by the user at any time to check the connection speed in case of playback problems.
Inaris HLS Player Used for Quickline’s new SRF Series Portal
With their Android TV UHD app Quickline offers over 200 TV channels, including features like restart, replay for one week, recording, and also a VoD portal. This already great offer is now extended by a portal for SRF series. For all this content our HLS player is used and we updated our player to support the different streaming servers in an optimal way for the best user experience.
Inaris HLS Player Used for Quickline UHD Set-Top Box
The Inaris HLS Player is used for the Quickline UHD set-top box for the playback of live TV, replay content and network PVR via OTT. The high requirements for fast channel change, start of media playback and media positioning are perfectly fulfilled with the Inaris HLS player. The player has been further optimised to work hand-in-hand with the Broadpeak streaming server. Many improvements were introduced for increased robustness during playback.
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.
HLS with Alternate Audio Streams
With HLS one or more audio streams can be combined with the video stream in one multiplex. However, if multiple high quality audio streams are to be supported using only one multiplex wastes a lot of the available Internet bandwidth. Therefore, HLS allows to separate the audio streams from the video stream.
In this case only the audio stream that is actually played has to be downloaded saving bandwidth. With the new version of our HLS Solution we now also support HLS alternate audio streams. Only those audio tracks that are actually played are downloaded.
HLS with Verimatrix for Android TV
We extended our Inaris HLS Solution to support encrypted media streams. In a first step we integrated HLS with Verimatrix ViewRight OTT client on an Android TV platform. To fulfill the high security requirements of Verimatrix even for an open platform as Android, Verimatrix is integrated completely on the native C layer. Therefore, it is ensured that no media content can be accessed from JAVA application code.
HLS for OTT Services
Live TV services are more and more provided by standard Internet connections as OTT services. HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) originally defined by Apple is a widely used streaming protocol for OTT services. HLS supports adaptive streaming to take into account the different available bandwidths.
We implemented our own Inaris HLS Solution and integrated it in our Media Player framework on an Android TV Broadcom platform. The HLS Solution is implemented platform independent in ANSI C and can be used for the playback of live and for VOD content.
The advantage is, that we now have full control of all playback parameters and can optimise and adapt the HLS playback for the used backend streaming server. Fast start of content playback (fast TV channel changes) and short delay to live in the case of live TV can be achieved with this solution.
ANOPAS Project Successfully Completed
The ANOPAS research project was started in August 2015 with our partners from Fraunhofer FOKUS and TU Berlin and was funded by the Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie (BMWi). The work on this project was completed in time by July 2017. Meanwhile, the final report has been submitted and thus the project is successfully completed.
During the project time we discussed and developed together with our partners many approaches that will help to improve the users’ streaming experience. One of the outcomes is an architecture that can be used as a framework to develop more powerful and smarter adaptation algorithms in MPEG-DASH. The experience we gathered in this research project has led to a strong improvement of our products and know-how in the streaming domain. Many concepts and ideas are also applicable for other streaming technologies like HLS.
ANOPAS uses Server and Network Assisted DASH (SAND)
In context of the ANOPAS project, we decided to include parts of the recently published MPEG-DASH SAND standard (ISO/IEC 23009-5) into our further development activities. The SAND standard (Server and network assisted DASH), defines an architecture and the protocols to allow DASH clients reporting metrics to servers and assist clients on their adaptation decisions.
The ANOPAS project will base their communication protocol on SAND and implement some of the SAND features. This will be for example the coordination of multiple clients sharing the same network resources. In this case, clients will issue a request to participate in resource sharing on the network. Following this, the server will assign them the maximum bandwidth in order to ensure the best use of the available resources. The distribution of the bandwidth to each single client may be influenced by resource allocation strategies e.g. fairness or pricing.
Start of the ANOPAS MPEG-DASH Research Project
The ANOPAS research project has been set-up by the partners TARA Systems, Fraunhofer FOKUS and TU Berlin to develop and evaluate innovative adaptation algorithms for adaptive streaming. The main focus is on the MPEG-DASH streaming protocol since this is widely used in web browsers and with HbbTV services.
ANOPAS aims at reaching the best possible playback quality, fairness between users in multiple user environments, live streaming with low latency and efficient operation in wireless networks. The generated solutions shall be implemented in prototypes and evaluated in realistic test scenarios. This project has received funding from the Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie (BMWi) and their innovation program »Zentrales Innovationsprogramm Mittelstand« (ZIM).