France Telecom’s Viaccess hooks up second screen

France Telecom’s Viaccess-Orca launched a service package for second screen integration and engagement with a focus on enhanced metadata at IBC2012.

Called DEEP (Data Enrichment and Engagement Platform), the package enables pay TV operators to link PCs, tablets, smart phones, games consoles and other IP devices in the home more tightly to the service, and stimulate further activity around the content. 

DEEP builds on existing standards such as DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) and UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) that facilitate automatic device discovery, and also on browser technology, adding new metadata creation methods developed by Viaccess-Orca itself, along with key contributions from two partners, TVersity and Audible Magic. TVersity provides the media server technology on top of DLNA, UPnP or the browser to enable devices to exchange content, supporting games consoles, most set top boxes, Blu-ray players, smart TVs, phones, PCs, and tablets. This comes as software loaded onto a PC, which can then discover devices automatically if they are DLNA or UPnP client. If not then the device can join in by pointing its browser to the PC.

Audible Magic’s contribution is its patented SmartID and CopySense automated content recognition (ACR) system using digital fingerprint technology to identify content by analyzing either audio or video image signals. Audible Magic claims that the system identifies content correctly over 99 percent of the time with zero false positives, at sub-second response time, and can do it on video clips down to five seconds in length.

According to Viaccess-Orca CEO François Moreau de Saint Martin, the system has been designed to extend user engagement via the second screen not just while content on the primary screen is playing, but also before and afterwards.

“Based in the backend is lots of information we can bring together, and the idea is to build a customer journey based on this, starting from when looking for a program to watch, continuing while watching," he said. "Then, at the end of the program, there is a window of opportunity for the operator to propose how consumers should continue their journey.”

The key to this process lies in enriched metadata created by the system on top of the information already associated with the content, Moreau de Saint Martin added.

“This might not be another two hour movie but maybe suggesting topics to browse related to the movie," he said. "If, say, it was Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen movie), it can create interest in Paris in different topics related to Paris.”

One of the first customers for DEEP is likely to be France Telecom itself through its IPTV/OTT service called “la nouvelle TV d’Orange." This is based on Viaccess-Orca’s Unified Service platform, to which Orange has been migrating its IPTV customers since November 2011 in the world’s largest IPTV migration project to data, involving over 5.1 million subscribers. This platform incorporates a new user interface, including VOD, catch-up TV, content discovery and recommendations, EPG, PVR and a number of home built applications, and has been adapted for IPTV, OTT delivery and hybrid operation.

France Telecom’s Orange group had conducted this migration because the operational cost and complexity of managing multiple separate service platforms for ADSL, web and hybrid Satellite-IP had been making it hard to keep pace with the market. Under the “la nouvelle TV d’Orange” project, these separate silos have been folded onto a single platform, enabling use of common search and recommendation tools from Viaccess-Orca.

Until recently run as separate companies, Viaccess and Orca have been merged this year into a single unit combining the former’s content security with the latter’s search and discovery technology.