HbbTV advances in Asia

The European HbbTV hybrid broadcast standard is gaining ground in Asia with the first exclusive seminar dedicated to the platform in the region in Singapore this month.
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The European HbbTV hybrid broadcast standard is gaining ground in Asia with a growing number of trials and the first exclusive seminar dedicated to the platform in the region in Singapore this month.

This is being staged by four leading companies in the HbbTV arena — Digital TV Labs, Dolby, httv and Optiva Media — at the BroadcastAsia2013 and CommunicAsia exhibition.

These vendors are leading discussions on best practices, current deployments, industry specifications, interoperability and the likely future evolution of HbbTV. This is likely to home in the alignment of HbbTV with the more globally acknowledged Open IPTV Forum (OIPF) formed in March 2007 as an IPTV standards body by AT&T, Ericsson, France Telecom, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Siemens, Sony and Telecom Italia.

OIPF has focused increasingly on OTT and hybrid TV, as well as IPTV, and contributed significant parts of the HbbTV platform. These include HTTP Adaptive Streaming and work relating to the MPEG DASH standard, having incorporated MPEG-2 transport into that as the basis of streaming.

OIPF has also contributed the Declaritive Application Environment (DAE), allowing developers to bridge the gap between the user interface in terms of screen size, layout and pointing devices for traditional PC browser usage with the emerging one for TV. This includes functions for control of on-demand media, remote control functions including key events and spatial IP and broadcast tuners, PVR management and others.

A key recent development was OIPF’s publication of a profile for deployment of HTML5, the latest version of the HTML markup language redesigned for digital media, along with associated mature web technologies like CSS and DOM3. CSS is a so-called style sheet language for describing the look and formatting of a document written in a markup language such as HTML, primarily to separate content from presentation. DOM3 is the interface through which apps can dynamically access and update the content, as well as its structure and style.

The OIPF HTML5 profile, being incorporated also into HbbTV, is a stripped-down version avoiding more recent web technologies that may not yet be stable. The aim is to deliver a robust platform fit for linear TV as opposed to traditional Internet browsing.

HbbTV has been sweeping through much of Europe, outside the UK which has taken a different approach with its YouView hybrid platform, with France and Germany leading the charge. There are now trials being conducted in South Korea, China and Malaysia.