This year's NAB was fascinating in many ways. The rust of the Dotcom technology growth was showing itself on the floor. While many of those young start-ups had already failed by the time NAB rolled around, the larger companies that tried to emulate their fantastic growth sunk loads of dollars into R & D. Now that the air has cleared, we are left with a whole lot of new products, the most in years.
As usual the Sands was the place for the smallest companies with the biggest innovations. According to Cahners In-Stat Group, Internet streaming solutions represent the fastest growing segment of the market. Over the long term, In-Stat expects that streaming will migrate upwards to become true video.
Zapex showed its Pegasus II system. It is the first Linux-based system able to stream live video over an IP network from real-time video or content stored on the server. It comes packaged as a rackmount video server with the encoder based on Zapex's own ZL-330. The system provides streaming solutions in either unicast or multicast operation by using the “Thundercast” server software from 2NetFX.
StarBak's Torrent 100 is a dedicated streaming media appliance that handles as many as 1300 streams at once. The StarBak-developed software has been optimized for streaming large volumes of audio and video data, and has been incorporated into the Torrent hardware with a custom operating system. This focus simplifies management as files can to be loaded, managed, and deleted via a simple graphic user interface (GUI), which anyone in the organization can be taught to operate.
Digital Fountain's technology uses advanced mathematical techniques to partition data into equal lengths. Then through combinational mathematics, it creates uniquely identifiable representative equations (Luby transform coding). These equations are then sent out over the network and as soon as enough of them are received, the data is reconstructed. Receiving order or loss has no effect on the data as long as the receiver can acquire enough equations to recreate the original. This eliminates the one-to-one conversations required of traditional TCP\IP servers. The approach allows a Webcast to mimic many of the dynamics — and business models — of a television or radio event. In effect, Digital Fountain's approach enables the Internet to serve as a broadcast medium.
Anystream's Agility Enterprise encoding platform is an enterprise-class solution for streaming media production and distribution that also streamlines and automates the process of converting (in real time) traditional broadcast footage into a variety of streaming media formats. The functionality that really sets Anystream apart is the ability to automatically encode programs into a multitude of streaming formats simultaneously including multiple resolutions and versions of Windows Media Player, Real and QuickTime. The whole system integrates fully with professional broadcast environments to ensure automatic capture of content and prescheduled delivery of the final streaming media programming to content delivery networks and asset management systems.
Telestream's FlipFactory Pro streaming automation software automatically transcodes and delivers media in virtually any format from broadcast servers to streaming servers or between different manufacturers' broadcast servers and digital devices. Additionally, Telestream expanded the suite of FlipFactory models including automated publishing and “on-demand” storage and retrieval for archives, media libraries and cache networks. Telestream also showed ClipRemote a portable media delivery for news and film crews wanting to transmit broadcast-quality footage from the field via the Internet to receiving stations located anywhere in the world. For those that have already invested in Telestream's technology there were major enhancements to both ClipMail Pro and ClipExpress.
Storage Concepts showed off FibreBlock, a full-featured RAID device measuring the size of a shoebox. The FibreBlock packs 300GB, a transfer rate of 90MB/s and features full redundancy. The Block is capable of handling multiple streams of data running simultaneously through a single port at a combined transfer rate of 80MB/s to 85MB/s. It is compatible with all Host Bus Adapters (HBAs) and can be configured to run on multiple software platforms.
NCUBE demonstrated the integration of nCUBE's n4 streaming media appliance with RealAudio 8 and RealVideo 8. The n4, a fourth-generation streaming appliance, will enable broadband providers to simultaneously deliver high-quality streaming media to thousands of consumers over digital cable and IP networks. The n4 allows broadband providers to leverage the scalability and high performance of nCUBE to cost effectively deliver RealNetwork's RealAudio 8 and RealVideo 8.
ViewCast demonstrated the Niagara Streaming System. Niagara is a turnkey, plug-and-play streaming solution available in desk-side, portable and rack-mountable configurations. The Niagara series of encoders are a powerful way for businesses to stream ‘live’ on the Web or create archived video-on-demand content. Fully integrated Niagara 1-, 2- and 4RU systems as well as portable configurations provide turnkey solutions for streaming applications and makes it easy to convert your content to RealNetworks or Windows Media support formats.
While not necessarily streaming media, Dixon Sports, eSystems, ASACA and the Los Angeles Dodgers showed an implementation of a new digital video and Internet technology solution that will record all at-bat activity for every Dodgers' game. Combined with ASACA's 3.9TB DVD-RAM library to store and organize the videos, eSystem's ASaP integrated data mining portal solution will deliver accurate searches of the entire information bank. Authorized users will be able to browse and access files online, making the Dodgers' new Video Coaching System (VCS) an invaluable tool.
Spruce Technologies' SpruceUp's personal digital video authoring software is a creative tool that allows Users to shape captured content and author their own rich productions. Users can quickly add Web interactivity to the DVD productions, and can publish to a CD or DVD. SpruceUp is one of the most intuitive authoring tools I have used. Full featured enough for professionals and easy enough for beginners.
Eveo showed off its EveoPublisher, a robust and scalable XML-based video publishing application that allows organizations to deploy video on their Web sites. This turnkey Web video solution is designed for businesses that want to enrich their sites with compelling streaming video.
Fraunhofer Institute one of the primary inventors of the MP3 format, showed the new MPEG-4 system Low Delay Advanced Audio Coding (AAC-LD). This new codec offers sound quality at a data rate of 64kb/s that is comparable to MP3, but with 80 percent lower transmission delay.
Virage's demonstrated a platform that allows content owners to prepare, manage and distribute video for Web and broadcast programming. The platform's open architecture integrates into any workflow and allows video to be used across a variety of applications. It also demonstrated wireless delivery of an on-demand streaming video to handheld PDA devices. Virage used a 3G-compliant wireless network set up at several locations to stream video highlights of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Virage's new on-demand wireless streaming capability opens additional distribution channels for delivery of video content.
Convera unveiled its new In Progress Highlights technology, which enables users to access video highlights while the live event is still occurring and create customized video reels. Convera's capabilities and services allow analyzing, indexing, managing and publishing video content for online applications.
Mindport Sentriq and PacketVideo announced a strategic alliance to enable Digital Rights Management (DRM) solutions for wireless distribution of content. In addition to providing a compelling multimedia experience for wireless users, the partnership will enable companies at all points within the content delivery chain to protect rich media. This partnership will offer content owners and wireless operators the means to monetize multimedia that has been optimized for MPEG-4 standards-compliant wireless delivery using integrated Sentriq, a Mindport product, and PacketVideo technology.
The Bulldog Group announced the release of Bulldog Two.Seven, its enterprise digital asset management solution. Two.Seven offers integration capabilities with vendors such as Virage, Convera, and Telestream. It provides video logging, video transcoding, intelligent text searching and Quark document management. Bulldog's new API, makes video handling easier to manage with integration to the Virage VideoLogger.
iKNOWLEDGE has developed a new technology called Content Lifecycle Automation (CLA), allowing companies to automate and manage their Web content-intensive business processes regardless of format, volume, or business rule — quickly, easily, and cost-effectively.
Loral CyberStar introduced its ClearStream Suite of Streaming Media Solutions. ClearStream is an IP-based suite of products that enable high-quality, full-screen distribution and delivery of broadband applications to desktop PCs. Using CyberStar's satellite-based network you can bypass the Internet, avoid wide area network (WAN) congestion and deliver broadband applications to multiple, geographically dispersed sites.
NET-36, a PanAmSat company provides a satellite-based Internet broadcast network that leverages the world's largest network of geostationary-orbiting satellites. The network is tailored to deliver content at a minimum sustained rate of 300k, and an average sustained rate of 500k. Net-36 owns and operates both the satellites and the edge servers to enable Internet broadcast of high-fidelity video, audio and data.
ChainCast Networks is a managed streaming platform service. The chaincasting technology allows customers to stream content by creating dynamic distribution links or “chains” between users. The peer-to-peer technology enables consumers with sufficient bandwidth to act as splitters - transparently sending streams to additional users.
Steven Blumenfeld is currently the GM/CTO of AOL-Nullsoft, the creators of Winamp and SHOUTcast.