freesatFreesat equipment is well equipped for providing video on demand, according to one of the world’s major developers of interactive TV services.
UK-based company Strategy & Technology has been working with Humax and Panasonic, two of the three Freesat launch manufacturers, on a new version of its interactive technology which is now implemented on their receivers.

The new software, called RedKey 2, is based on a development of the MHEG-5 international presentation standard, which Freesat picked as its method of delivering all “red button” interactive services.

The BBC – which developed the new TV service along with ITV – has already declared plans to make its iPlayer catch-up TV service available, via the red button, as soon as possible. Also key to this Freesat’s Ethernet connection and the ability of interactive services to make use of it.
Paul Daly, general manager of client systems for Strategy & Technology, said this ability was one of the main developments from RedKey 1, which is used on many Freeview boxes.

Though Ethernet connectivity has yet to be enabled for consumer use, this feature was required by the Freesat specification and all receivers are equipped.
In the short term it will mean programmes or particular adverts will be able to provide more information via interactive pages. Users will also be able to interact with programming by voting in reality TV shows, looking up shops, or ordering products from a shopping channel.
“The application can go live during particular adverts,” said Daly. “If you have the IP channel connected then potentially you can get further information, possibly as far as finding a local dealer from a car advert and booking a test drive.”

He confirmed the system was theoretically ready for interactive VOD services such as the iPlayer, though work on software for this is ongoing. Daly added that, in the longer term, other broadcasters could potentially piggy-back on the service and its MHEG implementation to deliver video services independently of linear channels.
“On a worldwide stage, there are a lot of companies looking at offering trickle-feed video services to set-top boxes,” he said. Delivering shows or films as a trickle-feed download as opposed to a live stream could offer quality video with less demand on internet bandwidth.
Daly said: “MHEG is an ideal front-end to that. It is going back to its grassroots in a way, as it was actually originally designed for delivering on demand video.”

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By Expat