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OPINION: Connected Homes 2.0: user experience revolution

The revolution will be televised says Stefan Drouzas, senior engineer, Toshiba Electronics Europe

The world of television entertainment has been rocked to the core by the increasing trend towards cutting the cord – be that satellite, cable or over-the-air television – and replacing them (sometimes augmenting) with internet TV (IPTV) solutions. The trend is perhaps most pronounced amongst US Millennials a segment where half the group have already gone cable-free.

Cable and satellite providers are mobilising quickly to revamp their offers so they stay relevant and maintain market position through hybrid offers that span multiple delivery channels. But it is not just the route we access entertainment content that is changing, the way we consume it is too.

Instead of simply interacting with one large screen, today’s viewers often have a second or third screen to hand, be that a smartphone, tablet or laptop. And this leads to more interactive experiences, with viewers not only interacting with each other through social media during TV shows and sports events, but also live TV shows routinely interacting with viewers through social media and dedicated voting platforms directly influencing the outcome of some shows. It also leads to viewers wanting consistent and high quality user experiences across all platforms.

But delivering consistent user experiences across multiple platforms is a real challenge. To help overcome this, Toshiba has developed differentiated silicon chips such as its ApP Lite TZ5000 SoC Application Processor for IPTV clients, that integrates state of the art Wi-Fi connectivity and 4GB of NAND Flash to enable powerful, small and efficient devices to be designed.

To aid designers to adopt the latest technologies, Toshiba provides a range of reference designs and development systems that merge hardware and software into seamless designs that can be packaged and ‘skinned’ by customers however suits them best. The devices provide native support for content protection and DRM technologies to ensure content assets are managed well.

HEVC will become the standard codec not only for 4K/UHD but will also help reduce bandwidth requirements for full-HD video streaming. As technology and content moves to 4K/UHD or even beyond, the ability to support the streaming of these ultra high-resolution video formats without crippling internal and external networks will be of paramount importance.

But the disruption doesn’t stop in the living room – consumers are demanding information from increasing numbers of devices, be that smartphones, tablets, laptops, gaming boxes or wearables and smartwatches. To deliver a unified connected experience the consumer will enjoy, an ecosystem comprising fast and efficient devices, user-friendly software and fast network access is needed. If just one of these pillars is below standard, the entire user experience can be ruined.

With multiple family members accessing multiple appliances with multiple devices, the volume of data being stored, shared and streamed will continue to increase exponentially. Come visit Toshiba at IBC in Hall 6 to discuss how our commitment to innovation can help make the truly connected home a reality.