By Dr Neale Foster, COO and VP global sales, ACCESS
Over a short space of time, web technologies have evolved rapidly in order to create new immersive web experiences such as tailored web browsing, multiscreen TV and the mobile web. For example, the web has matured considerably since the first mobile web browser developed by ACCESS for NTT DoCoMo, and has played an integral role in transforming consumer interaction with devices. With the emergence of internet-enabled devices including smart TVs, wearables and the connected car, operators looking to deploy multiscreen services have room to create immersive services spanning the entire connected device spectrum, which combine to create the Internet-of-Things (IoT). A recent Gartner report predicts that the number of connected devices will increase by 30 per cent in 2015 to 4.9 billion before growing fivefold to 25 billion by 2020. Due to the sizeable scope of IoT, this article will focus on the Internet of Connected Entertainment.
From linear TV to multiscreen
A few decades ago, the TV was a dumb screen offering linear programming on a few channels. However, consumer adoption of internet-enabled handheld devices such as smartphones provided the breeding ground for operators to bring interactivity into the connected home and radically transform the TV experience. The emergence of IoT has facilitated the increase in the number of devices used for ‘at-home’ entertainment. The average British household has six devices or more to watch content, allowing operators to create a fully immersive multiscreen experience both in and out of the home.
However, the increase in internet-enabled devices has also caused security concerns around content transiting over the open internet. With more devices connecting to the service, the risk of unauthorised access is on the rise and operators need to integrate robust support for Conditional Access (CA) and Digital Rights Management (DRM) solutions within their multiscreen solutions to offer ‘studio confident’ streaming that earns the studios’ trust.
By deploying solutions that can ‘trans-crypt’ different types of CA and DRM systems on the fly, operators can secure the delivery of any type of content to any screen within the home via the home gateway, reducing the need to invest in cloud infrastructure. Additionally, using the in-home network increases quality of service, while limiting the risk of that content being accessed or streamed illegally over the internet. Content can also be downloaded in the appropriate format to companion devices such as smartphones and tablets, opening the door to video consumption out of the home, and it’s likely that wearables and the connected car will enable TV Everywhere to truly emerge.
An important part of the explosion in IoT will be down to the connected car, according to recent Gartner research. A new report states that one in five vehicles will have some form of wireless network connection by 2020, accounting for more than a quarter of a billion cars across the globe. Bringing connectivity to the car is the first step for OEMs and integrators to offer video content in the confines of the vehicle, enabling TV services to extend to any environment.
Processing data in multiscreen, multi-device environment
This multiplicity of connected devices inside and outside of the home leads to a host of challenges for operators, including offering a seamless experience on all devices. As consumers now expect a single service spanning the entire connected home, it is imperative for operators to create a familiar UX (User experience) across all supported browsers, operating systems, screen sizes, device types and interaction methods. Integrating solutions that support HTML5 and the Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) and Media Source Extensions (MSE) can help operators to develop this seamless UX including a security framework on all screens automatically.
While providing a seamless experience is a pre-requisite for operators, constant access to web browsing and social media has led to a tremendous increase in the amount of data produced and shared by consumers. This has triggered increased subscriber demand for personalised services that are accessible on every device everywhere. Recent research from BI Intelligence predicts that IoT will contribute to $1.7 trillion in value added to the global economy in 2019, demonstrating considerable opportunities for operators looking to deploy large-scale multiscreen services both in and out of the home.
Operators are increasingly looking for solutions that automatically aggregate and analyse data to help them better understand subscriber behaviour, the types of devices used to watch content and more. They need to be able to offer more targeted services and content, including tailored advertising on multiple platforms and better search and discovery options. It is clear that data and analytics will play an integral role in determining the future of multiscreen and it is those operators who can be entrusted with their subscribers’ personal data and utilise it to tailor services that will benefit from multiscreen connectivity.