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@ CES: Cisco's Videoscape TV platform reaches for the cloud

Tue, 01/10/2012 - 3:00pm
Mike Robuck

Cisco's 9845HDCAfter making its debut last year at the Consumer Electronics Show, Cisco's blended Videoscape TV platform is set to offer "video in the cloud" services via a host of new product offerings.

"Cisco offers the most comprehensive networked video solutions available to service providers," said Jesper Andersen, senior vice president and general manager of the Service Provider Video Technology Group at Cisco. "We have spent the last year refining and advancing our Videoscape platform with new capabilities that will support our customers' biggest challenges. Only Videoscape offers the combined power of the network, cloud and client to help service providers accelerate time to market with new multi-screen video services. With our new cloud components in play, we are confident we can help our customers open new programming distribution channels and advertising possibilities to drive new revenue."

Also since last year, Cisco's Videoscape has racked up customer wins with Rogers Communications, Israel-based Yes and France's Numericable. Last month, Rogers launched a beta version of its live streaming service for iPads, and it plans on offering it across Android devices later this year. At the time, Rogers' David Purdy, vice president of video products, hinted that bigger things were in the offing when it came to pushing video services across the company's quad play of services, and Videoscape looks like it will play a key role.

Customers are clamoring for multi-screen video content, and by pushing content into a cloud service, providers using Videoscape will be able to offer live and VOD content to PCs and Macs, as well as iPads, iPhones and Android devices.

In addition to blending Internet, linear and VOD video for "any screen" consumption, Videoscape also puts service providers on the pathway to IP video services.

On the video cloud services front, Cisco has rolled out a new gateway, the Cisco 9800 series, that features six tuners, which allows viewers to watch and record six video streams simultaneously. The gateway delivers live, recorded and on-demand content – including standard- and high-definition and 3-D TV – to multiple screens within the home via traditional QAM-based set-tops and pure IP set-tops.

Cisco uses its Videoscape Voyager Vantage software to connect the set-top boxes to a cloud. It also allows a service provider to deploy richer user interfaces (UIs) and electronic programming guides (EPGs); provide extensive video-on-demand catalogs; and integrate new applications for social media, Internet video and content sharing.

Other new Videoscape Cloud components include:

  • Videoscape Voyager Virtual – A new cloud-rendered user interface that delivers IP video to legacy MPEG-2 set-top boxes and helps to enable new social media applications, e-commerce, gaming, cloud-driven EPGs, video place-shifting and remote user interfaces.
  • Cisco Conductor back office technology (for QAM video) – It allows service providers to roll out differentiated video services faster and more efficiently through comprehensive video control plane and service management capabilities across networks and devices.
  • The Cisco Media Processor and Transcode Manager – They advance service providers' capabilities to deliver video content to second and third screens through expanded video format support, such as adaptive bit rate (ABR) technologies that optimize delivery of services to each screen for the best possible quality of experience.
  • Videoscape Content Delivery Network (CDN) Analytics – Delivers advanced reporting so that service providers can gather and view more in-depth information from their Cisco Content Delivery System (CDS) or third-party CDN deployment and analyze network performance in real time.

The future is now
Cisco was demonstrating a prototype of how some of these new Videoscape components work in Las Vegas in conjunction with Coincident TV. Using Cisco's Conductor and an iPad, viewers are able to get more information about a TV show they're watching, including actor bios and telescoping opportunities to buy the same clothes an actor or actress is wearing, as well as gather more information on Wikipedia and chat about a show in real time after it has aired.

With VOD content stored in the cloud, Videoscape also allows viewers to jump around to different parts of an episode or view summaries of episodes.

The UI is HTML5-based, and APIs can be used by third parties to develop additional apps. Using XMPP and Coincident TV, the iPad is able to communicate in real time with the cloud to pull videos into a home.

The iPad works in conjunction with the content on a TV without disrupting the show in progress. The end result is a viewing experience that complements or augments the content that is on a big-screen TV.

In short, the demonstration contained a lot of the elements of interactive TV that cable has been trying to deploy for years through EBIF, tru2way and other technologies, but devices such as the iPad have changed the interactive TV landscape.

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