Posted on February 1, 2018

COMPETE 2020 leverages Altice Labs’ investment, in partnership with the University of Aveiro and the Telecommunications Institute, to test models of interaction and access to content through new graphical television interfaces, as well as providing a high quality user experience in viewing content.

1. Synthesis

In declarations to COMPETE 2020, Bernardo Cardoso – Director of Digital, Internet and Television at Altice Labs, Jorge Ferraz de Abreu – University of Aveiro and Susana Sargento – Telecommunications Institute, summarize the contribution of the UltraTV project, as well as the added value of the partnership between those entities and the importance of COMPETE 2020 support.

“The UltraTV project represents a cornerstone of the roadmap for innovation and development of Altice Labs, SA, leveraging the importance of advances and scientific contributions of the University of Aveiro and the Telecommunications Institute of Aveiro to go beyond the state of the art in various technological areas of interest in Internet Protocol Television (IPTV), in its user experience component, and in the component of content delivery in Over-The-Top (OTT). The promotion of this transfer of scientific know-how, highly enhanced by the support of COMPETE 2020, as well as the space for technological experimentation that this same support allows companies, is fundamental for the realization of projects such as UltraTV, whose results will allow the valorization of this component with a strong incidence of R&D in advanced television solutions to be implemented in Portugal and abroad.”

2. About the project

The objective of the UltraTV project is to develop an ecosystem of Interactive TV applications that allows to support a TV service with the most advanced functionalities of the market. To this end, it proposes to test models of interaction and access to content through new graphical television interfaces, as well as to provide a high quality user experience in viewing content.

Thus, Altice Labs and its consortium partners, Instituto de Telecomunicações de Aveiro and the University of Aveiro, collaborate in the UltraTV project in order to:

  • Develop an ecosystem of Interactive TV applications, which allows supporting a TV service with the most advanced functionalities in the market, capable of serving as the basis for a new generation of MEO;
  • That this ecosystem is supported in open standards, such as HTML5, JavaScript, MPEG-DASH, and can be developed by any entity with competencies to do so;
  • That operator STBs are supported, with the development of the respective support applications, but also open STBs, as well as “smart” TVs, computers, tablets and mobile phones;
  • That the focus of applications is to facilitate on-demand content consumption in an integrated manner, going beyond the linear logic of traditional channel alignments;
  • That the entire ecosystem uses adaptive distribution technologies as a basis for the transmission of content so that it is as agnostic as possible to the conditions of communication networks.

 

Proposal for the unification of audiovisual content sources on television

UltraTV offers a personalized and optimized entertainment environment for each user, organized by profiles. Through a mosaic interface, the Ultra TV project offers access to content from various sources, including TV (MEO operator) and other Internet sources, such as videos on Youtube, Facebook, Netflix. All of them are presented in a unified way, organized by categories, and according to the same interaction model.

Displays features that allow control over the displayed content, such as bookmark, timeshift controls (how to restart, rewind, advance, pause). It also includes current binge watching trends with automated suggestion and playback of subsequent episodes and the functionality to continue watching later, properly stored in each user’s “My Content” area.

The existence of different profiles, aggregated in the same box, combined with the presentation, on the same screen, of content suggested and organised for each profile, provides a new zapping experience, totally personalized. This new paradigm, in addition to promoting the discovery of new content, allows a faster and more informed choice of content to be watched, since it provides a preview of the video, even before opting for a full screen presentation.

A minimalist remote control supports a focused interaction model, especially on the directional keys. In this way, the user interface draws attention exclusively to the videos arranged on the grid, abandoning a classic organisation by channel numbers and programming timeline, in favour of an approach that incorporates the navigational patterns of OTT platforms and players, which today account for an ever-increasing share of audiovisual consumption. This aggregation of several sources on the same TV screen allows taking advantage not only of the possibility of having more content and information menus at the same time, but also of the high image quality, with the current 4K Ultra HD formats.

In order for content to be viewed with a high quality of experience for the user, whether at home, on the street or on a train, mechanisms are being developed that allow content delivery to be adapted to the quality of communication networks, foreseeing the needs and location of users and placing content closer to and before it is needed (so that consumers can view their content with the best possible quality even if on the move), and that allow optimizing network conditions and the distribution model in an integrated manner with the quality currently expected.

All these factors aim to enrich and enhance the immersiveness of the user experience, from the point of view of the diversity and systematisation of the content made available, combined with the coherence and continuity in the presentation and the interaction model, without ruling out an exploratory dimension that complements a proposal based on the personalised recommendation of content.

It is intended that UltraTV represents an increase for future IPTV solutions aimed at the consumer market and, in particular, offers a competitive and attractive alternative for young people, with a pattern of viewing habits spread over various devices, generally more remote from the traditional television screen.

3. COMPETE 2020 support

The project is co-financed by COMPETE 2020 under the Technological Research and Development Incentive Scheme, in the area of co-promoted projects, involving an eligible investment of 1.5 million euros, which resulted in an ERDF incentive of 795 thousand euros.

Source: COMPETE 2020

UltraTV: A new generation TV ecosystem – COMPETE 2020

More content by Social iTV