Monday, June 28, 2010

Australian NBN trials apps for FTTH

The Australian NBN is trialing applications to run over the new network in NSW. Finally stuff other than Internet access requiring OA FTTH! Here's what they will ofer 40 trial homes in the Parkbruidge Estate. Teleworking seems to be missing; the services being trialed can definitely be expanded; but smart metering - who buys that?
  • Smart metering (with Integral Energy). "Allow families and business to track their energy consumption in real time and adjust energy use accordingly". This is the one application that nobody has been able to convince me about (see next post).
  • Touch screen communication (by Smart Services Cooperative Research Centre and Consult Point). Basically e-health/e-care. For elderly and young children.
  • Virtual world learning environment (by Smart Services CRC and NSW Department of Education and Training): An e-learning app.
  • HD Internet TV (by NICTA and Opticomm). Basically a hybrid STB. You can wonder why they do not partner with Google TV or another existing player in the connected TV/hybrid TV/OTT market.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Google TV: what will the UI look like?

Connected TV, OTT content, hybrid STBs: success is largely dependent on the UI. According to this article, the Xbox is going 'Minority Report'. And in this article, Yahoo! talks about the UI for Yahoo! TV.

In theory, it's a mixture of a lare range of building blocks:
  • Remote control, keyboard, mouse
  • (Multi-)touch screen
  • Camera, gesture-based control
  • Menus, search
  • Recommendation engines, social media
  • Personalisation
  • Widgets, widget channels, app stores
  • Accelerometer, gyroscope, GPS
  • Voice control
  • ??
Google TV is keeping all its options open, for the moment. Read more about is over here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Kabel Noord: the case for open access

Cable company Kabel Noord is a darling among fiber aficionados because of its commitment to FTTH. It is therefore gratifying to see that their 2009 results seem to reflect both FTTH and open access - to a limited degree.

Kabel Noord is quite small, with just 29k homes passed in the north east of Frisia (including two islands). While the company is behind Ziggo and UPC in terms of margins, free cash flow generation, ARPU and the roll-out of telephony services, it has taken a lead on the broadband market in terms of penetration.

For a review and comparison with Ziggo and UPC, read this article (subscription required).

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

After 3-D comes 4K

If you think 3-D is the end of video developments, you should have been at last week's Mediapark Jaarcongres 2010 in Hilversum. 3-D, 4K and holography were hot topics.

First 3-D. Phil Lelyveld of the Consumer 3D Experience Lab in Los Angeles explained why headaches and nausea are issues for 3-D. The focus point is by definition on the screen, but looking at two different images at the same time makes our eyes converge at a different point, either in front of or behind the screen. This creates the 3-D experience, but for some it is hard for the head or the stomach. Hence, 3-D is to be applied in a moderate way and Phil recommends not too many images where the convergence point is way in front of the screen.

Then holography. There was some talk about Japan trying to organise the 2022 Soccer World Cup, in which case they would have holographic projections of each match in soccer stadiums around the country.

Finally 4K. If television develops from black & white to color to widescreen to HD to 3-D, then 4K could be the next step. Back in 2004, this article in the New York Times described MGM's efforts digitising analogue films in the 4K standard. The 4K standard is experimented on by CineGrid in the Netherlands, working with SURFnet and other partners. Fiber is explicitly mentioned as the medium of choice, because of the excessive data rate. Images are 4x sharper than in 3-D (i.e. a 4,096 x 2,160 resolution) and sound is recorded in 16 channels. According to this leaflet, 1.5 hours of video would require 750 DVDs or 3.5 TB of data. Each frame would be the equivalent of up to 50 MB, not mentioning what the 16 sound channels require. It was stated that a 4K stream would require a massive 8 Gb/s download speed for streaming (uncompressed), or close to 1 Gb/s (compressed). So that looks like a cinema experience, rather than a home cinema experience for now. Coincidentally, a few days ago a new 4K recording was made of Viktoria Mullova, playing JS Bach in the Holland Festival.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Nokia's first step

This pedal-powered charger from Nokia is nice, but they need to think on a much bigger scale.