Khronos Group Releases Provisional OpenMAX AL Digital TV Extension Specification

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Provisional Digital TV extension adds standards-agnostic Mobile TV tuning, playback, recording and electronic program guide functionality to OpenMAX AL Multimedia API

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The Khronos™ Group (Beaverton, OR) today announced it has publicly released the OpenMAX™ AL Digital TV Extension (Provisional) specification, a royalty-free, cross-platform C-language API for high-performance digital TV-related applications on mobile and embedded devices. The OpenMAX AL DTV Extension simplifies deployment of digital TV functionality across any platform or operating system and enables developers to create rich DTV-related media applications across a wide range of hardware devices.

OpenMAX AL (Application Layer) enables native applications to be portable across multiple operating systems and hardware platforms by providing an extensive application-level API. OpenMAX AL enables high-level abstraction for comprehensive audio-visual media functionality and the ability to create and control player and recorder objects, connecting them to configurable input and output objects. Inputs and outputs include content readers and writers, headphones, loudspeakers, microphones, display windows, cameras, broadcast radios, LEDs and other types of A/V devices. OpenMAX AL is the highest layer of the OpenMAX family of APIs for multimedia acceleration and application development. (OpenMAX AL 1.1 was announced simultaneously at the Khronos press conference on January 18, 2011.)

The DTV Extension enhances the multimedia functionality provided by OpenMAX AL by adding digital TV functionality specifically tailored for the diverse needs and requirements of mobile and embedded devices. The DTV Extension has been designed by leading industry experts in audio, video and mobile TV to provide a broad range of digital TV-related media functionality, including:

  • Technology-neutral access to Broadcast, Unicast and Multicast delivery methods for Digital TV
  • Compatibility with all major mobile TV standards (e.g. DVB-H, ISDB-T, T-DMB, etc.)
  • Modularized software design: separate objects to represent each part of a full Digital TV implementation.
    • Digital TV Source – Communicates with the reception hardware and streaming servers. This object can handle broadcasts, multicasts and unicasts.
    • Service Object – data source for the player. Uses the Digital TV Source to retrieve data.
    • Electronic Program Guide Manager – Handles queries on the program guide, and provides service information to the application.
  • The Electronic Program Guide Manager is the only optional object, but it is highly recommended to implement all three objects to get a feature-rich Digital TV implementation.

The OpenMAX AL DTV Extension (provisional) specification is immediately available for download and may be used royalty-free by implementers and developers. The DTV Extension specification has been released in provisional form to allow developers and potential adopters to get an early look at it and provide feedback. A discussion forum has been set up to facilitate developer feedback. The OpenMAX AL Working Group is in the midst of finalizing the conformance tests for the DTV Extension.

“As part of the Khronos ecosystem of multimedia and acceleration APIs, the OpenMAX AL Digital TV extension is an important next step in standardizing digital TV and making it easily accessible to both application developers and mobile consumers,” said Erik Noreke, an Independent Standardization Specialist and one of the key designers of the Digital TV extension. “The fact that the Digital TV extension is transmission technology-agnostic allows the same framework and applications to be repurposed across a variety of platforms, resulting in exceptional device portability across various markets.”

“Adding DTV functionality was the logical next step in the evolution of OpenMAX AL as a robust, open standards interface to the rich multimedia functionality available on mobile devices,” said Yeshwant Muthusamy, a Technology Manager at Nokia and Chair of the OpenMAX AL Working Group at Khronos. “We look forward to receiving feedback on this provisional specification from the multimedia developer community. Their feedback will be invaluable to us in ensuring that the final DTV extension meets all of their needs.”

“SRS Labs welcomes the creation of open standards designed to provide applications with access to digital TV functionality in mobile devices,” said Alan Kraemer, Chief Technology Officer for SRS Labs, Inc. “We view this as an important step towards making digital TV easily available on a broad base of handheld devices.”

In addition to OpenMAX AL, Khronos also provides the OpenMAX IL (Integration Layer) API which defines a low-level abstraction to codecs, file manipulations, transformations and peripheral components on a system. OpenMAX IL enables system integrators and media framework vendors to efficiently and flexibly integrate the internals of a multimedia architecture with a range of different acceleration silicon. OpenMAX IL may be used as an efficient acceleration layer for implementing OpenMAX AL and enables media processing components to interoperate with each other, even if they are delivered from multiple vendors. The latest version of OpenMAX IL, v1.1.2, was released in September 2008.