European Space Agency

Indigo Integrated Digital Overlay

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Objectives

The aim of Project Indigo (Integrated Digital Overlay) is to develop the next generation of technology for satellite-delivered video programming and data for Enterprise and Broadcast customers. In the Enterprise market, Indigo intends to develop a digital signage (DS) product suite to enable customers to use the Captive Audience Networking (CAN) medium. This demands innovation in the central distribution hub, remote-end equipment and distribution. In the Broadcast market (including direct-to-home (DTH)), Kingston inmedia intends to create its Next Generation Playout (NGP) product set requiring work to define and optimise media ingest, digital asset management and distribution.

In Phase A of Indigo, the partners will:

  • Establish the business drivers for NGP and CAN, aligning technology developments to the priorities of customer demand;
  • Establish a high-level design architecture for a Next Generation Playout suite capable of supporting CAN and DTH;
  • Implement and trial elements of the overall system, using end-customers for CAN, identifying both shortfalls and development opportunities;
  • By trialling elements of NGP and CAN, de-risk the technical designs of future enterprise-scale implementations of the NGP and CAN architectures;
     
  • Support ESA objectives by offering services that will create a strong demand for satellite-based multimedia CAN and DTH services.

Challenges

Competition from US service providers and manufactures is intense, and European service providers need to regain the initiative through highly innovative business and technology propositions. The market for CAN, as discussed elsewhere within this document, is rapidly evolving and market leaders are expected to become established within the next 6 to 12 months. The alarming characteristic of the CAN market is the number of networks that are being built without proven business models or reliable technical infrastructures - companies involved in this sector are motivated primarily by capture of market share, whatever the cost.

The CAN market, with its aggressive competition and short-term objectives needs to be the focus of Indigo Phase A. The playout market, with its slightly more relaxed timescales and mature market players, may be the focus of a possible subsequent Phase B. Fortunately, this also fits the investment profile required for Phase A and B as the playout technologies for DTH will require significantly more resources in order to achieve the necessary technical and business innovations.

Benefits

Kingston inmedia and ESYS are proposing to develop the complete end-to-end architecture to establish Kingston inmedia as a world leader in digital media via satellite through Project Indigo - Phase A. ESYS expects to create a position as a developer of innovative hardware and novel DTH and CAN applications.

In addition, it is anticipated that the work will establish a European capability and catalyst for the uptake of satellite services. Kingston inmedia and ESYS can realise their product roadmap faster with ESA support, critical in view of the growing threat from US and Far East manufacturers and service providers.

The concept of sharing facilities between DTH and CAN remains key, as it allows the hub infrastructure costs to be minimised and those savings passed on to the end customer.

In addition, ESA is well placed to co-ordinate with other development in Europe, particularly in relation to standards. Furthermore, ESA are an excellent route for the dissemination of findings across the industry, particularly in relation to the new capabilities the architecture will provide, supporting the adoption of satellite-based architectures for CAN and other digital media services.

Features

Kingston inmedia and ESYS plc have identified four standalone components of the overall Indigo architecture that will be addressed during Phase A. The following diagram shows Indigo's functional architecture for all elements of NGP for DTH and DS.

  • Digital ingest - the technology necessary to ingest content from a variety of sources in a variety of formats. Indigo needs to provide an efficient method for the semi-automated capture of media from broadcast tape formats, primarily the Sony Betacam" family and DV / DVC pro product range. Media should be captured in a format appropriate for the end transmission unit, typically this can be MPEG 1, MPEG 2, MPEG 4, WM9, Apple Quicktime, JPEG, TIF, GIF, PNG, flash, xml, html, WAV, MP3, MXF, AAF. However the requirements of ease of operation of the overall system should lead to elimination of many of these formats and the output of a limited number (possibly one) format to be used by the end replay device.
  • Digital Asset Management - the technology to store and retrieve digitised content rapidly and efficiently. A DAM application is a tool for organising large scale digital media assets for storage and retrieval purposes. In DAM systems the content itself is physically stored inside a secure database. This results in a host of benefits, including security levels, versioning, and centralised management.
  • Reference Client Device - the technology required at the end-user's site to receive, decode and display content. The main function of the Indigo remote-end systems is to receive content from the content delivery mechanism and to playout the content as scheduled to the end-display devices. The remote-end systems consist of a reference client device (RCD) and a collection of reference display devices (RDDs).
  • IP-AV - the technology to distribute content at the end-user's site for display, using digital technology.

Plan

In the first stage of Phase A of Indigo, the project teams from Kingston inmedia and ESYS will develop the Strategic Plan. Together with the User Requirements Document, which captures the features which the project teams intend to design and develop, these two elements form the basis of the Base Review Design milestone.

The second stage of the project starts with the architectural design definition stage for each of the ingest, digital asset management, reference client device and IP-AV distribution systems. This is forecast to be complete by the third week of January. 

There then follows the test and trial stage leading to a main trial. This is anticipated to the exploitation plan by April 2004. The following diagram shows the expected work-flow.  

 

click for larger image

Current status

Following a good launch at IBC and further successful client meetings, roll-out is above expectations for the first three sub-systems of Indigo Phase 2, namely the Remote Ingest, Remote Scheduling and Remote Playout and Distribution sub-systems.

However, further procurement delays hampered the build of Digital Archive, and the second Acceptance 2 milestone was put back to December 9th. However, the rest of the project has caught up, and Final Reports will be issued by the end of January 2005.

Contacts

Status date

Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - 08:51