IWEDIA details 'Web on TV' projects

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

RENNES, France — IWEDIA Middleware, the international provider of software solutions for connected digital television terminals, today supplied details of its involvement in “Web on TV” projects, which aim to provide a variety of Web services for Internet-connected TV sets.

The announcement was made to coincide with the opening of IFA, which is taking place in Berlin from September 4th through 9th.

IWEDIA sees tomorrow’s TV set not only as a multimedia hub within the home network but also as a means to access the best of the Web over the Internet. From the comfort of their sofa, viewers will be able to use their remote control to enjoy the most popular online services whilst continuing to watch their favourite TV show. Available services will range from information retrieval (news, weather forecast, stock exchange data and so on) and social networking through to video and audio on demand, photo sharing, a TV guide, and catch-up TV.

The ‘Companym@ges’ project illustrates this vision. Headed up by Alcatel Lucent and with financial backing from the French government and the Bretagne Region, the project aimed to investigate how digital broadcasting can offer innovative business-oriented services to consumers.

The project experimented with a new generation of interactive TV services, disseminated in broadcast mode and relayed via broadband, based on HTML/JavaScript technology and enabling content providers present on terrestrial digital television networks to make the most of network convergence. In one example of this, the project linked interactive advertising with direct marketing, allowing viewers to contact a call centre directly via their TV set. IWEDIA’s contribution to the project centred on the use of its hybrid broadcast/broadband Comedia middleware, incorporating an HTML browser and a JavaScript engine (IWEDIA opted for the WebKit open-source solution).

At the same time, IWEDIA has been actively contributing to the work of the French HD Forum, supported by AFDESI (Association for the Development of Enhanced TV Services and Interactivity), which aims to establish a standard for hybrid DVB/IP interactive TV services. The French initiative was then synchronised at the European level, more particularly with Germany, giving birth to the HbbTV (Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV) standard – this is expected to be submitted to ETSI in October for an endorsement by the end of the year.

In addition, IWEDIA will be one of the first to implement the HTML-based HbbTV standard as part of the OpenWidget project, recently selected by the French Single Interministerial Fund in the course of its last RFP. The project aims to promote the standard by delivering a complete HbbTV environment (interactive engine including support for widgets and rich media, authoring tools, applications, testing tools and validation platform).

Patrick Desproges, CEO, IWEDIA, says: “We see the connection of TV sets to the Internet as a major market trend. To extract the maximum benefit from this trend, it will have to be backed by an open standard which fulfils the requirements of the various stakeholders, including TV broadcasters, ISPs and CE manufacturers. This is exactly what HbbTV is all about; we foresee it constituting the foundations of a new generation of interactive TV services. There is no doubt that being one of the first to deliver a compliant implementation will also give us a competitive advantage.”