As the EU funded R&D project LinkedTV began its work in October 2011, bringing together 12 European research and industry experts from 8 countries, its stated goal was the “seamless interlinking of TV and the Web”. Convergence of TV and the Web was at its beginning and the visionary group, led scientifically by Dr Lyndon Nixon, now Assistant Professor at the New Media Technology Group in MODUL University Vienna, foresaw a near term future where watching TV or browsing Web content would become essentially the same experience, with consumers moving between TV and Web content as easily as Web users were following hyperlinks to browse different Web pages back then. TV viewing as a passive experience would be perfectly complemented by the active browsing of additional information and content on the Web that it could trigger.
The group could not have anticipated how quickly and significantly technology in the market would shift in this direction, with increasing Internet bandwidth and device capabilities making TV/video streaming over Internet available to all, broadcasters launching TVoD and Catch-up TV services to their viewers and SmartTV sales meaning TV viewing in the living room now also had an Internet backchannel available. The utopian world of merged TV and Web seemed close; however TV programme viewers weren’t getting their information needs answered through Web-connected apps on their TVs, instead of having full screen Facebook on their TV they were looking for information on things in the TV shows, background to the news story, more examples of the art visible in the background of the scene – and are there paintings by that artist in the nearby museum?
Today’s TV viewers are multitaskers – they have a laptop, tablet or smartphone to hand while consuming TV on the big screen, and they turn to that second device to use the Web for additional information and content. However, companion applications are not well synchronised to this search – largely, their “knowledge” of what’s on is limited to identifying the programme and linking to social Web conversation around it or a list of cast members. What they don’t know, and today can’t know, is what is INSIDE the TV programme at the time the user is viewing it and could be interested in. So viewer’s real needs for Web and TV convergence are still not answered today – how to find out more about something you see in a TV programme if you don’t know what it’s called, for example?
LinkedTV has been working on the solution. By bringing together R&D experts across Europe who could provide the right tools to enable the envisioned interlinking of TV and the Web, we have produced a number of demonstrators where the experience of watching news – from the German broadcaster RBB – or a cultural heritage programme – the Dutch version of Antiques Roadshow from AVROTROS – is enhanced by additional information and content at the viewers fingertips – whether through remote control actions on a HbbTV-supporting SmartTV or through a Web application on their tablet or laptop. This information goes far beyond programme description or cast details like today’s offers – LinkedTV enables linking to information about concepts like persons, places and organisations inside the news story, links to background or related stories, or even browsing similar art objects in European collections while watching the discussion about another art object on screen.
“Years of collaboration, knowledge and technology transfer, implementation, prototyping and evaluation have brought us to this point, where we can offer an integrated set of services and software to content owners who would like to enrich their video with links to related information”, summarizes Dr Nixon, who initiated the LinkedTV idea following his PhD on multimedia enrichment in 2007 and acted as scientific coordinator of the LinkedTV project work, which finished in March 2015. “Trials with RBB and AVROTROS viewers have shown they appreciate the ability to easily access further information about what they see in the TV programme when they want. Viewers result in being more satisfied and engaged by the content. The broadcasters also stand to gain by offering LinkedTV enrichments as an added value service alongside selected content, as it can attract both new viewers and retain existing viewers, and promote their archived and long tail content with a new viewer experience.”
LinkedTV results – software, services, demos and reports – are published publicly at http://www.linkedtv.eu
LinkedTV products and demonstrators for media organisations are presented at http://showcase.linkedtv.eu
LinkedCulture demonstrator: https://vimeo.com/108891238
LinkedNews demonstrator: https://vimeo.com/119107849
Technology consultancy and proof of concept creation are possible. Organisations interested in LinkedTV enrichments for their content can contact Modul Technology GmbH c/o Lyndon Nixon.
Don’t miss presentations of the innovations in video analysis achieved by our partner CERTH-ITI during the LinkedTV project!
The LinkedTV project is pleased to announce all of its public deliverables from 2014 are now online and available either as PDF download or viewing/sharing via SlideShare. These deliverables largely report the final research and technology outcomes of the project prior to their evaluations and exploitation. The scientific and professional community is invited to learn about the latest research and results around Linked Television:
and last but not least:
Scientific co-ordinator Lyndon Nixon (MODUL University) took the opportunity of the last month of the LinkedTV project to give a presentation during the EBU Broadthinking event about Linked Television and its offer to European broadcasters to provide added value links from their TV programming to Web content. LinkedTV is now looking at industry uptake of its complete solution and was pleased to have the opportunity to talk to an audience of largely European broadcaster members of the EBU.
Dr Nixon focused on how TV viewers have companion devices with them while watching and turn to those devices when they are interested in finding out more about something in the TV programme. Indeed, surveys show 25-40% of viewers do this at least occassionally. The problem is the lack of descriptive metadata about what is IN a TV programme and the disconnection between available metadata and external apps to use that metadata means viewers turn to third party sources outside of a broadcasters editorial control (Google, IMDB..) or are left frustrated if they can’t even search (e.g. who painted a painting when one doesn’t know the painting’s name?).
LinkedTV addresses this by providing concept and scene level information about TV content to applications that can be on the viewer’s companion device synced to the TV playback, offering instant and intuitive information gratification – under the broadcaster’s control. While a Web based implementation is already prototyped in the project, Dr Nixon also turned to bringing Linked Television to broadcast TV. The HbbTV specification has taken a significant step in enabling this type of added value enrichment service in its v2.0 release this year, with support for references to fragments of a DVB broacast stream (using the Media Fragment URI specification already used in LinkedTV) and synchronisation between TV and companion screen content (implemented by the Multiscreen Toolkit in LinkedTV). Broadcasters still need to consider the identification and annotation of TV programs beyond the EPG level, which LinkedTV can support with a set of rich analysis and annotation tools, as well as the added value to provide viewers with links to other content alongside TV, whether on a mobile companion app or a future HbbTV 2.0 app, which they can produce and check using LinkedTV’s enrichment services and Editor Tool.
In our view, the traditional reticience of broadcasters to give viewers the means to browse elsewhere on the Web “away from their content” needs to give way to embracing Linked Television as an opportunity to retain viewers with a more satisfying TV experience, win new viewers and promote archived or long tail content anew:
LinkedTV offers technology consultancy and proof of concept development, just contact us – and find out more about our products and scenarios at http://showcase.linkedtv.eu
On 25 and 26 February, LinkedTV partners Noterik and RBB participated in an EuropeanaSpace workshop in Berlin. We were able to use the MultiScreen Toolkit to develop a small app to view a tour of the Berlin wall on a TV screen, with a smartphone serving as a remote control. Viewers can click a link on their phone, that acts as a second screen, after which the Berlin wall tour is loaded on the main screen (TV). Other participants were impressed at how we were able to use our toolkit to build a working multiscreen application in a relatively short time. Together with Sound and Vision we were able to add links to related content which become available to viewers on the second screen while the Berlin wall documentary plays on their TV by using their Editor Tool – taking an activity which today requires building dedicated applications and making it quick and simple for editors thanks to the support of the Multiscreen Toolkit (see also the Showcase) to handle the enrichments created in the Editor Tool (see also the Showcase). The whole experience showed the value of the LinkedTV technology workflow, giving broadcasters eased access to enriching their TV programming with other content and handling its delivery synchronised across screens to their viewers.
This article was originally published at http://www.noterik.nl/smart-tv-apps-at-european-space-hackathon/