This week marks the deadline for Open Connected TV standard proposals. The goal: created an open source specification for software and standards for Internet-connected, Web-ready televisions. The driving force behind the specification for OCTV is the Digital Media Project. According to their website they want to promote continuing successful development, deployment and use of Digital Media that respect the rights of creators and rights holders to exploit their works, the wish of end users to fully enjoy the benefits of Digital Media and the interests of various value-chain players to provide products and services.

Founding member Leonardo Chiariglione, in 1988, started the ISO/IEC Moving Pictures Experts Group (MPEG) standards committee and the DMP in 2003.

The Open Connected TV (OCTV) project, wants to develop a specifications and an industry-grade implementation (platform) of OCTV based on international standards. The OCTV Specification will enable the creation of and will accelerate the development of a broad market of products, content, services and applications designed to enrich one-way TV services with interoperable multichannel two-way content access and delivery.

Considering that pretty much every television manufacturer has their own way of doing things, which makes it difficult for content creators and suppliers to get it to as many places as possible, this can only be a good thing. Think back to the days when the World Wide Web was in its infancy and you might have a glimpse into what it going on now.

The Core OCTV requirements include interoperability based on international standards or open solutions, support audio, video, images, text and combinations of those elements, include a default format, description, real-time streaming, conditional access system for each. On the software side it will specify interactivity, widget UI, application downloads and protocols for remote service requests.

The requirements also specify that it should be based on MPEG-M with APIs, writtne in C or C++ with JAva servers and work for Android, Linux and Java-based Linux and support: major open source media frameworks, major open source rendering environments, user and content management and content storage.

Other requirements include:

  1. Support Data Persistence and Processing System not bound to a specific DBMS
  2. Support data representation according to possible client requests (e.g. HTML/CSS or LASeR)
  3. Support Web Services management (REST API or SOAP Web Services)
  4. Provide a general security layer for relevant server and client components

Generic OCTV Device

Check out some of the DMP members:

  • Telecom Italia
  • Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.,Ltd.
  • University of Tokyo
  • Mitsubishi Electric Corporation
  • Telefónica (who own O2 mobile as well)

Why is this important?

The major reason this is important is that it will create a foundation for all future Web-TV and help accelerate development of the industry by giving manufacturers a protocol and standard to include so that content creators, app developers and streaming services and more easily integrate with new products coming onto the market. It is perhaps best described as the HTML5 of Web-enabled television media.

OK, maybe that’s not such a good description, but it is a very similar idea. Set a single open standard that everyone can include in their gear in order to make it more readily available to the vast number of developers, content publishers and services so that consumers can more easily attain the content they want.

The fact that it’s an open standard, much like HTML, means that there will be no need to pay royalties to include it into the devices and so it removes obstacles to adoption. Many of us will never really understand the intricacies and the standard consumer probably won’t even know it exists. But it’s still a very good thing.