We will all soon be able to watch what we want on our televisions, when we want thanks to a project funded with the help of six million euros from the Information Society Technologies area of the EU’s Framework Programme.
Building on the communication technologies developed and improved in recent years, ‘Share it!’ developed an end-to-end system that provides seamless access to on-line, broadcast and personally stored content. It allows easy access and transfer of the content between local storage devices using home-to-home (h2h) networks.
"The partners in the ‘Share it!’ project set a very ambitious goal”, says Simon Parnall, Director of Advanced Technologies, NDS and Chairman of the TV-Anytime Forum. “And together we have succeeded in combining state-of-the-art personal video recording, interactive television and broadband internet access to create new features for the European consumer. Most importantly, it has been achieved in a manner that is simple for them to use and understand.”
The major issues in enabling home to home sharing are rights management and interoperability. So it was vital that the project developed a system that was able to read content in all forms. The ‘Share it!’ platform makes extensive use of the 'TV Anytime' standard (ETSI standard TS 102 822) for storing information about local content, for searching over the peer-to-peer network and for building an EPG (Electronic Programme Guide). Several extended MHP (Multimedia Home Platform) applications were written to make use of this platform by the different project consortium members.
One important feature of ‘Share it!’ is the ability for consumers to join common interest user groups, such as a family, that can be used to search, recommend and to share content.
"This means I could share some photographs to my family group which would allow any member of my family to view them," explains Hans van Gageldonk from Philips Research in The Netherlands, part of the international team that characterised this project. "The digital rights management system would then make sure that only members of my family were able to view the pictures."
Another key aspect of the project was the investigation of new services and applications that make use of the ‘Share it!’ architecture, to enable consumers, broadcasters and network service providers to gain benefits from the system.
‘Share it!’ was also able to demonstrate how mobile devices might be used with such a system.
“With the growth of communication technologies over recent years it was crucial to develop a system to provide access to the range of content available in varying formats”, says Peter Walters, FP6UK National Contact Point for IST. “So it is only right that EU Framework Funding should be used to support the research and development being carried out by the partner organisations across Europe.”
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