Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Envisioning an ‘Awesome’ Future for Pay-TV

With online video viewing and Internet of Things strategies on the rise, which technology giants are best positioned to be at the hub of it all?  We believe that the answer may be the pay-TV operators that already are bringing entertainment and broadband services to the home.

In “Alticast Has a Vision For the Future of TV (And It’s Awesome),” CED Magazine discusses how our AltiView 3 user interface and other capabilities that are on the way can position an oft-overlooked device -- the pay-TV set-top box – at the center of the connected home.

Following up on our compelling demo at CES 2016, the CED piece discusses AltiView 3’s contextual ability to “create a web of interrelated viewing selections” based on previous viewing, preferred genres and even program musical soundtracks.  It also supports the emergence of 4K content for leading operators such as our customer, Videotron.

In addition, the piece explains how we’re working on Wi-Fi capabilities that can make STBs the “single gateway into the connected home,” enabling monitoring of smart appliance, sensor and other devices and creating what our U.S. president and CTO John Carlucci calls a “data storm” that can be monetized by pay-TV operators.

The technology on the horizon is transforming how consumers interact with the myriad of devices in their homes.  We look forward to working with our pay-TV operator partners to ensure that are at the center of that innovation.

Monday, January 18, 2016

CES 2016 Wrap-up

Drones, robots and autonomous cars notwithstanding, it was difficult to find standout announcements at CES, but there was a definite increase in the number of companies solving particular problems, as well as improvements in burgeoning technologies. For the cable industry, health monitoring is becoming more viable, not just within personal devices, but in new products that can provide richer and more technical interfaces for remote medical care. The industry still tip-toes forward in consideration of privacy and security, but each year it seems remote doctor visits and remote family care are becoming plausible, with hopes that in the future cable operators will securely offer this important service to their customers.

New IoT offerings in home automation were highlighted alongside others that integrate devices, protocols and dashboards within a single service. A challenge is the difficulty of standardization, given the existence of Z-Wave, ZigBee, and other protocols for sensor networking, as well as the emergence of new protocols, some of which are designed for specific applications. Regardless, home automation continues to grow at a rapid rate, with Samsung standing out for its integration of their SmartTV with home services.

As expected 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) with High Dynamic Range (HDR) was everywhere.  This is good news for Operators like Videotron that, with the help of Alticast, already launched a 4K set top box.  There were also numerous announcements on content deals that will help accelerate UHD TV uptake. IPTV 4K delivery remains to be a challenge, the trick is ensuring enough continuous bandwidth over wi-fi or broadband for receiving this stunning content. Some solutions that deliver 4K content use Adaptive Bit-rate Streaming (ABR) which can fluctuate the resolution based on bandwidth availability, providing a non-optimal 4K experience. 

Virtual reality, a product of the 1980s, has come back with a vengeance, thanks to better and more accessible technology. Press reports suggest it will be a moneymaker, certainly for medical and training, but for entertainment content it falls prey to the same issues as 3D TV, requiring content that is expensive to produce and special viewing hardware. It will take time to see if it will proliferate beyond gaming-type applications.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
What does the future hold for these technologies?  In the months ahead, the market will separate the sizzle from the sustainable. For now, all of us can get back to doing what we do best -- innovate new products and enrich the lives of consumers. And, of course, look forward to the spotlight of CES 2017.

Monday, January 11, 2016

TV Emergency Alert Available for Visually Impaired

Written by John Carlucci, Alticast President and CTO

2016 will be the first full year in which Americans will be furnished with Emergency Alert Messages both visually and aurally. In 1990, the American’s with Disability Act was passed to “remove barriers and empower people” (http://www.ada.gov), to include access to emergency information system. The Emergency Alert System conveys emergency communications via the TV to indicate encroaching weather, earthquake or other emergency event. This latest update delivers information not only with an onscreen visual scrawl, but also with an “audio scrawl” that leverages a secondary audio channel. 

Information on the changes in the system that were put in place late last year can be found at the FCC web site ( https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-15-1366A1.pdf). 

Monday, January 4, 2016

CES 2016: We’ll be where the innovation is

In the three-ring circus that is this week’s Consumer Electronics Show, no single exhibit complex can house all of the technology that is on display.  We’ll be at Tech West, a hub for many of the show’s most innovative products, showing how Alticast is paving the way for new television experiences. Visit us at the Venetian to see how “The Future of TV Simplified” is building value for pay-TV operators through delivery of advanced applications, user experiences and IoT functionality on existing and new CE devices.  Start your New Year off right by contacting mbaltz@alticast.com today to schedule your appointment.