Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Introduction to Digital and Interaction TV and It's Application in Sri Lanka



Digital Television
In Digital Television the transmission of audio and video is happened through digital signals. This is the reason this television system called Digital Television or DTV. Because of its nature of transmission Digital Television (DTV) is an advanced broadcasting technology that has transformed television viewing experience to a new era from analog television systems. Digital TV has enabled broadcasters to offer television with better picture and sound quality. It also offers multiple programming choices, called multicasting and interactive capabilities.


The switch from analog to digital broadcast television is referred to as the Digital TV (DTV) Transition. In 1996, the U.S. Congress authorized the distribution of an additional broadcast channel to each broadcast TV station so that they could start a digital broadcast channel while simultaneously continuing their analog broadcast channel.


Digital television supports many different picture formats defined by the broadcast television systems which are a combination of size, aspect ratio (width to height ratio).
Digital television can be accessed using satellite, digital terrestrial or cable. Digital terrestrial television (DTTV or DTT) is the technological evolution of broadcast television and advance from analog television, which broadcasts land-based (terrestrial) signals. The purposes of digital terrestrial television, similar to digital versus analogue in other platforms such as cable, satellite, and telecommunications, are reduced use of spectrum and more capacity than analogue, better-quality picture, and lower operating costs for broadcast and transmission after the initial upgrade costs. A terrestrial implementation of digital television (DTV) technology uses aerial broadcasts to a conventional television antenna (or aerial). Satellite television is television programming delivered by the means of communications satellite and received by an outdoor antenna, usually a parabolic mirror generally referred to as a satellite dish, and as far as household usage is concerned, a satellite receiver either in the form of an external set-top box or a satellite tuner module built into a TV set. Satellite TV tuners are also available as a card or a USB stick to be attached to a personal computer. In many areas of the world satellite television provides a wide range of channels and services, often to areas that are not serviced by terrestrial or cable providers. In Europe over 10 000 satellite channels are available but in Sri Lanka still satellite accessible digital televisions are not available yet. Cable television is a system of providing television programs to consumers via radio frequency (RF) signals transmitted to televisions through coaxial cables or digital light pulses through fixed optical fibers located on the subscriber's property, much like the over-the-air method used in traditional broadcast television (via radio waves) in which a television antenna is required. FM radio programming, high-speed Internet, telephony, and similar non-television services may also be provided. The major difference is the change of radio frequency signals used and optical connections to the subscriber property.


With digital terrestrial television (DTV) broadcasting, the range of formats can be broadly divided into two categories: high definition television (HDTV) for the transmission of high-definition video and standard-definition television (SDTV). These terms by themselves are not very precise, and many subtle intermediate cases exist.
Digital television can be used to interact with the viewer because of advanced technology it uses. Basically it can be divided into two parts.
1.      Enhanced TV – whilst watching a program a viewer can access additional information, different views or respond to questions asked.
2.      Interactive services – accessing information independent of a television channel.


The interactivity can be done by remote server. In digital televisions there will be a return channel to request data from a remote server. This maybe satellite via existing telephone line or cable – via its own network etc. These types of systems are open systems but there are closed systems also. In closed systems there are broadcast modules on a carousel and set-up box captures a module and holds it for interaction.
There are two types of digital TV
1. Standard definition (SD)
2. High definition (HD).
Standard definition is a lower form of digital TV. The aspect ratio for SD TV is 4:3, which is more square-like in appearance. That’s why when watching SD images on a HDTV we can see either a stretched picture or a picture with black bars on the side of the screen.
High definition is the highest form of digital TV. The aspect ratio for HD is 16:9, which is rectangular like a movie theater screen. That’s why when watching HD images on an analog or SDTV that we will see black bars on the top and bottom of the screen.


 Progressive Video Scanning Formats for Digital TV
Vertical Lines
Horizontal Pixels
Aspect Ratio
Frame Rate per Second
1080
1920
16:9
24, 30
720
1280
16:9
24, 30, 60
480
704
16:9
24, 30, 60
480
704
4:3
24, 30, 60
480
640
4:3
24, 30, 60

Interlaced Video Scanning Formats for Digital TV
Vertical Lines
Horizontal Pixels
Aspect Ratio
Frame Rate per Second
1080
1920
16:9
30
480
704
16:9
30
480
704
4:3
30
480
640
4:3
30

Bit Rate Requirements for Various Display Formats
Format
Pixels per Line
Lines per Frame
Pixels per Frame
Frames per Second
Millions of Pixels per Second
Bits per Pixel
Mbps
SVGA
800
600
480,000
72
34.6
8
276.5
NTSC
640
480
307,200
30
9.2
24
221.2
PAL
580
575
333,500
50
16.7
24
400.2
SECAM
580
575
333,500
50
16.7
24
400.2
HDTV
1920
1080
2,073,600
30
62.2
24
1492.8
Film
2000
1700
3,400,000
24
81.6
32
2611.2


Benefits of Digital Television
Digital televisions work on small bandwidth and give the advantage of multicasting and data casting to the broadcaster. By multicasting the broadcaster is able to broadcast the programs to different viewers at the same time. It is like storing several files on one single DVD. The broadcaster similarly is able to broadcast several programs on one channel.
The broadcaster or the cable system operator can cast data on the channel along with the programs. Thus it gives the advantage to the cable operator to display different type of information which may be related to the price changes in the merchandise store or the list of the programs that are about to be shown.
We can use the scart lead to record the programs on the digital television. If we have some important appointment when one of our favorite program is aired or have to go shopping then all we have to do is get a digital video recorder that provide you with the facility to record the programs so that we can watch them later. But just check the capacity of the DVR to record the live TV. They come in different capacity and we can buy them on the basis of your choice and requirement.
Can watch more number of channels in Digital television than on an analog television. The picture is clearer, sharp with high resolution, the sound quality is better.


An important benefit of the switch to all-digital broadcasting is that it freed up parts of the valuable broadcast spectrum for public safety communications (such as police, fire departments, and rescue squads). Also, some of the spectrum can now be auctioned to companies that will be able to provide consumers with more advanced wireless services (such as wireless broadband).
Consumers also get benefits because digital broadcasting allows stations to give improved picture and sound quality, and digital is much more efficient than analog. For example, rather than being limited to providing one analog program, a broadcaster is able to offer a super sharp High Definition (HD) digital program or multiple Standard Definition (SD) digital programs simultaneously through a process called “multicasting.”
“Multicasting allows broadcast stations to offer several channels of digital programming at the same time, using the same amount of spectrum required for one analog program. So, for example, while a station broadcasting in analog on channel 7 is only able to offer viewers one program, a station broadcasting in digital on channel 7 can offer viewers one digital program on channel 7-1, a second digital program on channel 7-2, a third digital program on channel 7-3, and so on. This means more programming choices for viewers. Further, DTV provides interactive video and data services that were not possible with analog technology.”


Interactive Television
Interactive television (iTV) is any television with what is called a “return path”. Information flows not only from broadcaster to viewer, but also back from viewer to broadcaster. Another feature common to all iTV systems is the ability to offer each TV set, or each viewer who uses that TV set, a different choice of content.
There are different hardware configurations and it is possible to build a crude interactive service using analog systems. But the type of systems now being offered, that will dramatically change how viewers live, are digital – either cable or satellite.


This "return path," return channel or "back channel" can be by telephone, mobile SMS (text messages), radio, digital subscriber lines (ADSL) or cable.
Cable TV viewers receive their programs via a cable, and in the integrated cable return path enabled platforms, they use the same cable as a return path.
Satellite viewers (mostly) return information to the broadcaster via their regular telephone lines. They are charged for this service on their regular telephone bill. An Internet connection via ADSL, or other, data communications technology, is also being increasingly used.


“Interactive TV can also be delivered via a terrestrial aerial (Digital Terrestrial TV such as 'Freeview' in the UK). In this case, there is often no 'return path' as such - so data cannot be sent back to the broadcaster (so you could not, for instance, vote on a TV show, or order a product sample). However, interactivity is still possible as there is still the opportunity to interact with an application which is broadcast and downloaded to the set-top box (so you could still choose camera angles, play games etc.).
Increasingly the return path is becoming a broadband IP connection, and some hybrid receivers are now capable of displaying video from either the IP connection or from traditional tuners. Some devices are now dedicated to displaying video only from the IP channel, which has given rise to IPTV - Internet Protocol Television. The rise of the "broadband return path" has given new relevance to Interactive TV, as it opens up the need to interact with Video on Demand servers, advertisers, and web site operators.”
In interactive television there can be many types of interactions. The interaction may be based on technology or it may be based on the usage. Considering these facts interaction television’s interaction can division into several parts.
1.      Interactivity with television set
This can be identifies as the simplest form of interaction. This is happened through a remote control to fast forward, pause, rewind or skip commercials etc.
2.      Interaction with the content of television programs
Here the viewer is not interacting with television set. He interacts with the program. So users can comment, message and do forum discussions regarding programs.
3.      Interactivity with television related content.
In this viewers can get information about weather, sports, news etc using the interactive television.


Benefits of Interactive Television
In interactive television viewer can have various benefits and not only the viewer can so many parties benefit from interactive television systems.


Interactive television is more viewers centric. Viewers get more live and interactive television experience and even it can be used for educational purposes. All the functions in interactive television that eases or enhance the interactivity of the user can be measured as a benefit for the viewer. As an example id there is online shopping facility the viewer can shop using the television. Some benefits from interactive television are,
1.      Getting more information on anything appears in the screen.
2.      Online shopping: purchasing and ordering
3.      Various services: email, diary, chat, weather, stock market, quotes, viewing planner, child viewing filter etc
4.      Forums and survays: Viewer requests for information, pop-quizzes, viewer opinion polls, electronic program guide preferences, program suggestion forms, game or activity entry forms.
5.      Games and activities: can chose varios types of games such as action, fantacy etc
Apart from that many parties benefits from and create benefits from interactive TV’s. Because of its high technological usage those parties can inspect the viewer easily and make decisions. This can be service provider, marketer or a researcher for many purposes. I will try to look from the service providers perspective how to benefit from data gathered. Service provider or the broadcaster is the main entity who can collect data and analyze. He can use these to sell more air time or he can sell data or reports made after analyzing data to many parties like marketers, researchers etc.    
Different kinds of data can be gathered from an interactive television this is a major benefit. The data can be gathered are,
1.      Shows Watched
2.      Commercials Watched: Which viewed to completion, which viewed in part, time spent
3.      Commercials Clicked: Whenever the viewer hit a "tell me more" icon, time spent reading or watching the further information.  Other clicks to other information screens.
4.      Commercial Purchases: Which ads persuaded a viewer to click on an order form, which ads lead all the way to an online sale.
5.      Services Used: Which services, such as email, diary, chat, weather, stock market quotes, shopping, viewing planner, child viewing filter etc. How often used, every keystroke typed in to any of the services.
6.      Online Shopping:  What viewer has browsed.  What is the things viewer almost bought or requested more information.
7.      Forms and Surveys used
8.      Games and activities used

Using these collected data analyzers can analyse and create various kind of reports for further decision making. Such reports include,
1.      Viewing hours over week
2.      Channel choice over week
3.      Loyalty to shows
4.      Who watches a certain show or shows, in order by wealth of neighborhood
5.      Advertisements missed or seen
6.      Viewer restlessness by type of program
7.      Viewer restlessness by type of advertisement
8.      Response to big events
These reports are very useful.  They describe behaviors in each viewer that broadcasters and advertisers have long dreamt of knowing. How many people are watching a some kind of a program, for how long and how many of them live in wealthy neighborhoods?  Who are they?  What are their addresses?  It has been shown that the more involved viewers are in what they watch; the more likely they are to accept advertising messages.  Interactive TV has been shown to increase involvement, but can also be used to measure it in clicks and keystrokes.


Using these data interactive television can do so many things. Those can be benefits for both viewer and service provider or any other party. Main thing it can do is send content to an individual viewer depending on their usage.
·         Programs offered – Every viewer will see their own trailers, teasers and pop-up reminders.  When they tune in to a show, they may even see their own version of it.  These techniques will be especially effective to do product placements.
·         News - Any program or service that offers information can be customized into special issues, local editions and individualized bulletins.  Headlines, pictures, text and video can all be changed from minute to minute, person to person.
·         Commercials - Infomercials can be tailored to provide different information to each viewer, depending on what is likely to influence their buying decisions.  Expect commercials to pop up in games, on-line services, and programs and anywhere you don't seem to mind seeing them.
·         Branding - product logos and product related images will be placed on the screen when and wherever they are most effective.
·         Tools - A wide variety of online services will be offered by interactive TV.  Email, personal diaries, financial planners, chat rooms and so on.  Expect them to be products in their own right, with special versions for boys, girls, working women, teenagers, retired men, etc.  Which are offered, how they operate, and how they are tied to other products will all be open for targeting.
·         Games - Aside from children's video games, many services and entertainments will feature 3-D environments where viewers can to walk, run, jump or lie around.  What games are offered and what viewers encounter.
·         Forums and Chat
·         Clubs and Organizations
·         Online Transactions - Shopping and banking through your television will be entirely customized to (or targeted at) viewer.  What viewer  is offered, how much it costs and how much you pay will all change from person to person. You will be offered exclusive discounts and special offers.
In this way not only the viewer but so many can partiers can benefit from interactive televisions.

Digital and Interactive Television in Sri Lanka
There are so many number of DTV channels in Sri Lanka but still majority of population is using analog TV stations. Existing Sri Lankan digital television channels are based on ADSL and Satellite.
Sri Lanka will end analog radio and television broadcasting system but plans to introduce digital radio and television transmission system to provide a better reception for the local listeners and Television viewers.
The Sri-Lankan terrestrial broadcasting system will be fully converted to digital by 2017 according to Daily News quotes, from the Mass Media and Information Minister Keheliya Rambukwella.
He told a briefing in Colombo that he has appointed a committee to look into the technical aspects and evaluation of the digitalisation project and that it will be headed by Mass Media and Information Ministry Secretary W B Ganegala. He went on to say that the conversion process will begin in 2011 and because digital technology had the capacity to transmit several channels using a single frequency, obstacles to the expansion of broadcasting facilities could be removed, he said.
Sri Lanka will use the DVB-T2 digital standard. The first region to have the service will be the country’s Western Province which includes the capital, Colombo.”


Still lot of television sets in Sri Lanka is analog based and infrastructure in island wide is not enough yet. The digital television can be easily implemented in Western and few other provinces but when it goes more rural it becomes like impossible to implement digital television. So in my point of view to go for digital television in Sri Lanka facilitating the infrastructure is a key point. Unless with lesser number of viewers broadcasters will not be able to introduce noew technologies to enhance the television experience.
When we talk about interactive television we can see SLT IPTV is quite interactive. But still you can only interact with the television set in this too. What you can do it pause, rewind and etc. So we cannot call it a good stage in interactive television.
Sri Lankan major television stations are still running on analog based systems. This is a major concern. As an example in SLRC (Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation) uses analog systems and VCR tapes in broadcasting. So television stations should adopt new technology in order to facilitate digital television and interactive television
The number of IT literacy is increasing in Sri Lanka so in some years after 2017 the knowledge will not be an obstacle to implement interactive television in Sri Lanka.
What we can see significantly in Sri Lanka is the tax for these types of equipment are having high rates. With that peoples buying ability for the equipment needed are low. This also affects the transformation timeline to interactive television. So making this equipment available for public is very important fact.
So it’s obvious that Sri Lanka still at beginning stages of the transformation in television from analog to digital. The available digital television channels are also immature or Indian channels. We can see there are no advance channels which are broadcasted only for Sri Lanka. In India we can see that even discovery has a separate channel for India. Even in Sri Lanka we watch that channel from digital televisions.
Government should fund television stations who wish to transform into digital and government can give them exception in taxes equipments they export. And the license fee for a television broadcaster is very high if government can reduce it then television satiations can use that amount of money also to span their capabilities.  
There are no proper education systems for television based technologies in Sri Lanka. Majority of people we see in Sri Lankan television stations are people with very lower educational background. They have expertise the field by experience. But when they are lack of basics and theories then it makes hard for them to adopt new technologies easily by leaving old equipment that they have mastered. So creating a telecommunication based task force with requires knowledge and skills is also needed to speed up the transformation process.
When a country implements a system like television in that particular country, They should look forward at least more than 25 years. Because once infrastructure is made it is not easy to change or replace. We can see there are developed countries that still run on old technologies because it is hard to change an infrastructure in entire country. So when Sri Lanka implements these technologies they have to find the best technologies which have a potential sustainability in future. 


References:
  1. Wikipeadia
  2. Lankapuvath National News Agency of Sri Lanka
  3. Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union
  4. Daily News Online
  5. Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcast Development
  6. Sri Lanka’s Daily News
  7. http://www.dvb.org/about_dvb/dvb_worldwide/sri_lanka/
  8. http://www.lbn.lk/channels.html
  9. http://www.asiantribune.com/news/2009/10/28/sri-lanka-will-end-analog-tv-and-radio-transmissions-plans-go-digital
  10. http://broadcastengineering.com/mag/broadcasting_benefits_interactive_enhanced/
  11. http://www.oiv.hr/media/formatting-packaging/interactive-tv/interactive-tv_en.aspx
  12. http://www.sysmedia.com/solutions/interactive_solutions.asp?gclid=CJ7_yd2lw60CFQd66wodIUbiBQ


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