HD Forum Italia, in anticipation of the transition to the new interactive TV system, promoted the first Italian interoperability workshop for HbbTV 2: Hybrid broadband TV receivers, the second generation interactive middleware system that will replace the current one ( MHP) on TVs and STBs sold on the Italian market.
The event, which took place on June 29 and 30, offered manufacturers, developers, and broadcaster the opportunity to test, test, evaluate and test the features offered by HbbTV 2 on new receivers and for development Of applications and interactive services, both for future certification and the proper operation of such devices.
The effort in terms of preparation was significant and required a substantial commitment of resources and skills. The workshop was held in Milan, in the Mediaset testing laboratory configured for this purpose. The event marked a wide manifestation of interest.
Many operators took part in the HbbTV Workshop interoperability. Among the manufacturers: LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, TP-Vision, and Vestel. Broacasters like Rai, Mediaset, Sky and TV. Application providers such as Archimedia, Pixels, and Fincons.
In September, the results of the tests will be published in neutral form. Thereafter, they will also be presented in October in Rome at the next HbbTV Symposium organized by HbbTV in partnership with HD Forum Italia.
A demo aerea and a panel for an open discussion on the evolutionary scenarios of the audiovisual landscape
The Italian initiatives of the HD Forum Italia (HDFI) are under way, after the participation in the MIPTV in Cannes in April. They start from the European Forum Digital 2017 in Lucca on Thursday and Friday (15 and 16 June), where HDFI organizes various activities starting with a panel scheduled in the afternoon of the first day of the event and the exhibition of the HDFI Technology Center, A demonstration area aimed at the presentation of latest generation audiovisual devices. Two key moments to make the point on the Ultra High Definition path, from production to distribution and reception of audiovisual content. Focus on HDR; WCG; HFR and NGA, in the wake of industry projections of the potential of these technologies. An open debate, inspired by the passion of HDFI community members and the efforts that large groups are already doing to implement new production infrastructures and new platforms for terrestrial, satellite and broadband distribution. There will also talks on 'Next Generation Audio', the new sound size incorporating a variety of techniques designed to offer a more and more advanced experience.
The organizers of the MIPTV Workshop, which took place in Cannes from 3 to 6 April, invited HD Forum Italia to bring about the experience of the major broadcasters operating in Italy (RAI, Mediaset and Vatican Television Center) for UHD, in an ad hoc session of the event.
The President Benito Manlio Mari and the Vice-Presidents Pellegrinato and Trigila participated in a talk-show hosted by journalist Chris Forrester, an international media technology expert, at the session on April 5.
At the European Digital Forum 2017, in Lucca, Vice President Marco Pellegrinato presented the activities of the 'Joint Technical Group' - a working body established within HDFI - with a view to the publication of the Ultra HD Book 1.0, the latest in a series of documents that contain technical specifications Intended for the manufacturers of television reception apparatus for the Italian market.
The Ultra HD Book 1.0, resulting from a joint effort with international regulatory bodies and sector representatives, is the first instance of a series dedicated to the Ultra HD universe, in light of the progress achieved in standardizing the new technologies in image (HDR, WCG, HFR) and sound (NGA). It is also the first volume that expresses the paradigm of a multi-platform TV that treats in a unified approach the characteristics of the satellite, digital terrestrial and IP television universe.
In this interview, Marco Pellegrinato, vice president of HD Forum Italia, explains how adopting the HbbTV 2.0.1 standard for interactive TV services – that will gradually replace MHP – will affect the domestic television market. “HDFI expects HbbTV 2.0.1 to be a huge success, bringing positive knock-on effects in terms of sales and new services for users.”
Marco Pellegrinato, HD Forum Italia has just released HD Book 4.0. What is it about?
“Technically speaking, it’s about adopting the new HbbTV 2.0.1 standard for interactive TV services offered by broadcasters on connected TVs and set-top boxes. We are talking about hugely popular applications in the field of OTT services: all the way from so-called Catch-up TV, such as Rai Replay, La 7 On Demand, Mediaset OnDemand, through to Pay per View, such as Infinity, Premium Play, etc. All these services so far have been created using another interactive standard, called MHP, which was adopted in Italy in 2004 in the early years of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT).”
In which sector will the impact of HD Book 4.0 be most evident?
“It will have a major impact primarily on the manufacturing industry. The reason is simple: given that HbbTV 2.0.1 is a Europe-wide common standard (which also reaches beyond EU borders), from now on TV manufacturers will no longer have to create specific products for Italy. Indeed, in Italy, unlike the rest of Europe, the MHP standard has remained in force until today. So, looking ahead, we expect the volume of products on the Italian market that are compatible with HbbTV 2.0.1 to carry on increasing.”
What will change for users?
“After an initial start-up phase, as of next year, users will be able to purchase more modern receivers while still continuing to take advantage of current services converted by broadcasters into the new HbbTV 2.0.1 technology. Its intrinsic similarity to HTML5 Web technology means that the number of services provided to users will tend to increase. This is also because, with HTML5, new operators and application providers will be able to offer their services more easily on Smart TV and set-top-boxes.”
What kind of consequences will there be for broadcasters?
“Broadcasters will of course be able to conform to the new technology when and how they wish, converting their interactive applications from MHP to HbbTV 2.0.1. However, it’s reasonable to assume that for a number of years the two standards will coexist in simulcasts, with the aim of continuing to serve all those still using devices based on MHP technology.”
What are you hoping for?
"We hope HbbTV 2.0.1 will be a huge success, bringing positive knock-on effects in terms of sales and new services for users. And in order to support the implementation of these services, at HDFI last year we helped set up a specific body called the “HbbTV Competence Center”, made up of specialist systems integration companies.”
When will the new specifications for Ultra HD be coming out?
“We will do that as soon as possible, with the forthcoming publication of the collection, that will seal this epochal paradigm shift: the transition to Ultra HD, which television is undergoing around the world, including the ratification of the latest complementary technologies to UHD, i.e. HDR, HFR, WCG and Enhanced Audio. Until now we have focused on protecting consumers by starting off from the most consolidated standards in the market such as Full HD progressive – i.e., true HDTV – rather than a standard whose products were not yet fully ready and interoperable. The next volume will in fact be called Ultra HD Book 1.0, and will be the first release integrated with a new technological approach: a “platform-agnostic” vision. The released will be announced at the next HDFI Conference in October.”