Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Digital Copy

I am now the happy owner of a Blu-Ray Disc player. For Christmas, I've just bought a copy of "The Dark Knight", the last Batman movie, which was basically the most awaited BD of the year. It is truly a great movie, I love it! You can read the review on High-Def Digest if you are intersted.

The package included an authorization code to download a Digital Copy from the Warner Bros. Internet site. Cut&paste from the WB support information FAQ:
What is a Digital Copy? Digital Copy is a Windows Media™ compatible copy of a movie which can be quickly and legally transferred from a purchased DVD to a PC or PlaysForSure™ portable media device.

How do I get started? To use Digital Copy, you will need a PC running Windows XP or Windows Vista, Windows Media Player 10 or above, a DVD-ROM drive, and an Internet connection. No downloading is required but you'll need to connect to the Internet the first time you run the disc to enter a special code to get your copy of the movie.

So I downloaded the Digital Copy of "The Dark Knight" in a couple of hours: there are two separate Windows Media files. The first one is 2 GB, 720x400 at 25 fps format with an average bit-rate of 4.5 Mb/s and includes five languages: English, French, Spanish, German and Italian. The second one is 625 MB, 320x176 at 25 fps format with an average bit-rate of 600 kb/s and includes only one language (Italian, in my case). The quality looks good, but nothing comparable to Blu-Ray, of course.

Oh, and by the way, be very careful with your authorization code:
How many times can my authorization code be used? The authorization code can be used once. One authorization code will provide 1 PC and 1 portable media device copy license.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

NanoTouch Display

In collaboration with the Hasso Plattener Institute in Potsdam, Germany, Microsoft R&D argued that the key to touch-enabling very small devices is to use touch on the device backside. In order to study this, they have created the 2.4” prototype device shown here.

In a user study, participants completed a pointing task successfully across all display sizes when using a back-of device interface. The touchscreen-based control condition, in contrast, failed for screen diagonals below 1 inch, because the user’s fingers occlude contents and prevent precision.

The project webpage is here, including a paper (PDF) submitted to the Computer and Human Interaction conference.

Grid Streaming

FilmOn is a Video-On-Demand (VOD) Internet service using a cluster of net-based computers to let people watch broadcast quality movies over a basic broadband connection: the computer cluster helps shrink the films so the high-quality images can be sent through the available connection bandwidth.

Richard Crosby, Chief Scientist, declared "The FilmOn Network Operation Centre makes use of the same grid and cloud technology used by CERN and government agencies. The processing power is spread out across the globe, rather than on a single server. We start off with a few servers in select places and as demand picks up, a fresh cluster kicks in. What makes us different from a traditional grid is that the CPU's actually talk to each other across the global network. So it knows where the loads are and where projected loads will occur."

More details at BBC News.

Monday, December 22, 2008

EBU technical review 2008-Q4

The new edition of the quarterly EBU technical review is available at a new location and includes the following articles:
  • Editorial : Downturns, upturns and media development
  • Evolution of the BBC iPlayer
  • Open source handhelds - a broadcaster-led innovation for BTH services
  • Mobile TV standards: DVB-T vs. DVB-H
  • DSO - the Swedish experience

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sky moves toward 3D broadcast

Sky TV says it has made a significant step towards bringing 3D television to British viewers.

The satellite broadcaster has successfully tested the delivery of 3D programming to a domestic television, via a high-definition set-top box.

Sky has been filming a number of events using 3D cameras over recent months. Such broadcasts would require the use of 3D televisions, not yet available in UK stores, and viewers would need to wear 3D polarising glasses.

Sky says it has gone further by showing that 3D could be delivered into homes, straight to its Sky+HD set-top box, without much difficulty. Sky is stressing it is not making a product launch, but producing a technological demonstration.

Source: BBC News.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Numonyx goes to 41nm

Numonyx yesterday announced a new line-up of flash memories for wireless, embedded and storage applications built on the advanced 41nm technology, the top-level silicon process in today memory industry.

NAND memory continues to be one of the largest segments of the semiconductor industry, driven primarily by the high levels of digital content found in everything from set-top boxes to mobile phones.

The new Numoyx products will provide manufacturers of mobile phones, personal navigation devices, and other consumer electronics with easy-to-manage and simple-to-design memory solutions and will give consumers significantly more room on their devices to store pictures, videos, songs and operate popular multimedia applications.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Intel's advancement in Silicon Photonics

The latest Intel's press release - entitled "Intel's Silicon Photonics Advancement Aims to Accelerate Future Computing, Communications" - unveils a major achievement in Silicon Photonics, an emerging technology using standard silicon to send and receive optical information among computers and other electronic devices, allowing ultra-fast data transfer for future bandwidth-intensive computing applications, such as remote medicine and lifelike 3-D virtual worlds.

A team led by Intel researchers created the silicon-based APD (Avalanche Photodetector), a light sensor that achieves superior sensitivity by detecting light and amplifying weak signals as light is directed onto silicon. This APD device used silicon and CMOS processing to achieve a "gain-bandwidth product" of 340 GHz -- the best result ever measured for this key APD performance metric. This opens the door to lower the cost of optical links running at data rates of 40Gbps or higher and proves, for the first time, that a silicon photonics device can exceed the performance of a device made with traditional, more expensive optical materials such as indium phosphide.

Mario Paniccia, Ph.D., Intel Fellow and director of the company's Photonics Technology Lab declared "In addition to optical communication, these silicon-based APDs could also be applied to other areas such as sensing, imaging, quantum cryptography or biological applications."

Numonyx, a leading maker of NOR, NAND, RAM and phase change non-volatile memory technologies, provided manufacturing and process expertise.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Holographic 3DTV by 2018

3DTV NoE is a Network of Excellence funded by the European Commission 6th Framework Information Society Technologies Programme. The consortium of 19 entities, led by Bilkent University, has been working on a 48-month project on 3DTV, concluded on September 2008.

After that, Professor John Watson of the University of Aberdeen (one of the project partners) declared: "It's likely that within three years we will see a TV on the market which will use autostereo systems to create 3D images, so that viewers do not need to wear traditional 3D glasses. However, in ten years time it is highly probable that TV using holographic images, which would appear to float as if in mid air, will be available for consumers to purchase."

See for further details.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Nokia unveils N97

Yesterday in Barcelona, during the Nokia World 2008 event, Nokia unveiled its new flagship cellular phone model N97.

As we can read in the press release, "the Nokia N97 combines a large 3.5" touch display with a full QWERTY keyboard, providing an 'always open' window to favorite social networking sites and Internet destinations". And furthermore "[N97] introduces leading technology - including multiple sensors, memory, processing power and connection speeds - for people to create a personal Internet and share their 'social location. (...) With integrated A-GPS sensors and an electronic compass, the Nokia N97 mobile computer intuitively understands where it is."

Notable features include 16:9 widescreen display, 48 GB of storage, 5-Megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics and support for services like Share on Ovi for immediate sharing over HSDPA and WLAN.

You may be interested in the product datasheet.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Scalable Video Coding within DVB

The last issue of DVB-SCENE (the quarterly magazine of the DVB Project) includes an article by Ken McCann (Zetacast and Chairman of TM Ad Hoc Group on Audio-Visual Content, TM-AVC) entitled "Scalable Video Coding within DVB".

Here is the abstract:
The two main DVB Audio-Visual Coding specifications, for broadcast applications based on the MPEG-2 Transport Stream and for DVB applications delivered directly over IP protocols, are currently being revised to add new options to the toolboxes. Probably the most significant of these new options is Scalable Video Coding, defined by an amendment to the H.264/AVC specification. The objective is to produce an encoded signal that has the capability of being decoded to give video, albeit at reduced quality, from only part of the bit-stream.

Scalable Video Coding is a worthy addition to the DVB toolbox, applicable to a wide range of potential applications. However, as with the other tools, it should be selected for use when appropriate; it is not a 'magic bullet' that gives benefits under all circumstances.

DVB-SCENE #28 is available for download in PDF at this link.

Other articles include:
  • Making the Content and Device Value Chains Work for All Stakeholders
  • Synchronised Interactivity with MHP
  • Mobile Return Channel
  • Market Watch