Archive for June, 2009

iPhone software allows you to run a bath

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

A new iPhone feature that makes it possible to run a bath before getting home has been created by scientists.

The software means the phone can send instructions to a set of high-tech taps on a bath tub that can control the temperature, pressure and draining of the water, and even how many bubbles in the bath.

The Bath-o-matic software for iPhone is available free from Apple’s popular App Store, but users must also pay £4,000 for the technology at home.

They will then be able to select the temperature, depth and fragrance of the water and even how many bubbles in the bath.

The software means the phone can send instructions to a set of high-tech taps on a bath tub that can control the temperature, pressure and draining of the water so that the bath will be ready when arriving home.

Unique Automation, the London-based company behind the device, showed off its wares at a trade show this week.

A spokesman said: “At the touch of a button, Bath-o-matic fills the bath to perfection – even adding bubbles and perfumes.

“Bringing full automation to the bathroom at last, this technological breakthrough offers energy and water savings plus flooding and scalding prevention.”

Sharon Munday, a 27 year-old secretary, viewed the Bath-o-matic demonstration at the CEDIA Expo 2009 at the ExCeL centre in London.

“It really shows off just how the iPhone is becoming the ultimate remote control for everything in the home,” she said.

“If I had £4,000 spare I’d get one. It would be perfect for me as I have a 20 minute drive home from the office and could set it to run as I leave and hop in as soon as I got home. That would be absolute bliss.”

A shower version of the software is coming soon.

Another leap in the flexi-display journey

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

12 June 2009

Affordable flexible display technology is moving ever closer to reality as researchers at Arizona State’s Flexible Display Center (FDC) and Universal Display Corporation announce a new manufacturing process that combines PHOLED with polyethylene naphthalate.

The American research team hopes the breakthrough will drive mass-production of flexible, self-illuminated displays.

There’s a lot of activity in the flexible display market right now. Nanolumens, an American company on the cusp of bringing a revolutionary flexible screen to market. Furthermore all the usual suspects, including LG, Sony, Smansung and NHK, have dipped their toe in the bendy display pool. But, the flexible OLEDS all the big companies are experimenting with are proving expensive and difficult to develop.In contrast the FDC and Universal Display claim the technology it is developing uses a number of standard manufacturing methods making it far cheaper to produce. Furthermore the new display could be up to four times more efficient than traditional fluorescent OLED.

Video courtesy of FlexibleDisplay

The organisations say they have introduced the first a-Si:H active matrix flexible organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display to be manufactured directly on DuPont Teijin’s polyethylene naphthalate (PEN) substrate. Implementing Universal Display Corporation’s phosphorescent organic light-emitting diode (PHOLED) technology and materials and the FDC’s proprietary bond-debond manufacturing technology, the 4.1-inch monochrome quarter video graphics array (QVGA) display is said to represent a significant milestone towards achieving a manufacturable solution for flexible OLEDs.

Flexible OLEDs are targeted at a number of military and commercial applications that require more rugged displays. With Universal Display’s PHOLED technology and materials, the new display is said to achieve the same brightness as traditional displays with extremely low power consumption. Also the new technology is designed to have a lower operating temperature due to less heat being generated. In addition it should be easier to drive, boast a longer battery life, and more stable transistors.

“Being a founding member of the FDC, Universal Display is pleased to see the significant progress enabled by our co-operation,” said Mike Hack, vice president of Strategic Product Development at Universal Display. “Together, the FDC and Universal Display have demonstrated technology paths which will accelerate the introduction of exciting new flexible OLED displays on plastic substrates.”

“This development of flexible AMOLED technology gives the industry a solid starting point towards manufacturing, mass production and commercialisation of flexible OLEDs,” added Shawn O’Rourke, director of engineering for the FDC. “The fact that we have achieved a functional flexible OLED manufactured directly on plastic using the Center’s manufacturing process represents a significant achievement, and continued developments over the next few years will lead to full colour, full motion video flexible displays.

”The flexible backplane display was manufactured at the FDC utilising a 180°C thin film transistor process. The FDC’s facility implements traditional flat panel and semiconductor tools and processes to achieve flexible displays, enabled by its proprietary bond-debond technology to secure the plastic substrate to a rigid carrier during manufacture.The integration of Universal Display’s PHOLED frontplane delivers a key enabling technology for the flexible OLED. The PHOLED materials allow the OLED to convert up to 100 per cent of the electrical energy into light, as opposed to traditional fluorescent OLEDs which convert only 25 per cent, providing up to four times more energy efficiency. Universal Display integrated the FDC backplane designed for its PHOLED frontplane to produce the display.

HDMI over single Cat-5

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

01 June 2009

Hall Research Technologies is launching its new UH-1C, HDMI over single Cat5 extension kit at InfoComm 2009.

The UH-1C allows its user to extend full digital 1080p HDTV or PC video on a single Cat5e or Cat6 cable. In addition the product is daisy-chainable, and the re-clocked output creates a skew-free image.

The product offers a range of over 200ft at 720p resolution or 160ft at 1080p.

HDMI

ZigBee gets Emerson heavy-weight on board

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

The ZigBee Alliance received a major vote of confidence when manufacturing and technology giant Emerson announced, at Infocomm09, it is now a Promoter level member.

Emerson, a global company offering a range of products and services that help deliver productivity and energy efficiency to industrial, commercial and consumer markets, is also the newest member of the ZigBee Alliance Board of Directors.“Emerson is pleased to become a part of the Alliance’s strong network of corporate members and to collaborate with our suppliers, partners and customers who are using ZigBee’s open global standards for wireless technology,” said Tom Fredricks, division vice president of Emerson. “ZigBee Smart Energy and ZigBee Home Automation profiles will help Emerson achieve its goals of providing innovative and energy-efficient solutions to numerous worldwide markets.”

Emerson joins Ember Corporation, Freescale Semiconductor, Inc., Huawei Technologies, Itron Inc., Landis+Gyr, Philips Electronics, Reliant Energy, Samsung, Schneider Electric, STMicroelectronics, Tendril, Inc. and Texas Instruments on the ZigBee Alliance Board of Directors.

“The ZigBee Alliance welcomes the active support of Emerson and its expertise in the development and manufacture of a wide range of technologies used in industrial, commercial and consumer markets,” said Bob Heile, chairman of the ZigBee Alliance. “The ZigBee Alliance continues to achieve success in energy, building management and health care because of the strength of our ecosystem and the support of our members. Emerson is a leading manufacturer of a variety of global products and will provide valuable support to advance ZigBee further.”

How to Approach IPTV Solution Integration – A Framework Based on Lessons Learned

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

End-to-end solution integration (E2E SI) is essential when creating a business plan for IPTV service offerings. Rather than taking a piecemeal or partial approach to integration—which often results in unacceptable end-user quality of experience — operators need a comprehensive method that addresses all aspects of the IPTV implementation. The approach discussed in this white paper is derived from experience gained from actual IPTV implementations over a number of years.

Introduction

IPTV technology is now mainstream. Many service providers have already launched or are in the process of launching consumer IP video services in an attempt to maintain or gain market share in a fast moving, end-user focused competitive arena. Their initial approach has been to offer service bundles of voice, video and data (triple play). These same service providers are contemplating providing their customers with blended VoIP, video and data services (rather than bundling traditional voice), as well as with quadruple play, which includes mobile services. Some typical current strategic, tactical and operational IPTV-related service provider issues include:

 

  • Media aggregation, management, and distribution solutions
  • Content negotiation
  • Existing network and network component capabilities
  • Broadcast and multicast delivery capabilities
  • Capacity to perform realistic trials
  • Enhancing and streamlining business operations
  • Management and billing capabilities
  • Quality of experience (e.g., spectrum utilization index design, interactivity, and User Interface (UI) responsiveness)
  • Quality of service (e.g., video/audio stability, scalability, and redundancy)
  • Home networking components, deployment and maintenance
  • Differentiated applications integration
  • Personalization of existing applications
  • Security and digital rights management
  • Understanding the impact of offering video services on the organization

The challenge of integrating new technologies, features and services into the service provider’s network is complex and demanding. The transformation process usually involves maintaining existing services while developing and migrating to the new service environment. To cope with this level of complexity, many service providers turn to a partner they can trust to help them transform not only their network and services, but also their business operations. This usually includes a combination of professional consulting and integration/deployment services.

Experienced solutions integration (SI) partners have developed the capabilities to address the real issues that service providers face when implementing IPTV or triple play. The SI either takes on turnkey end-to-end projects as the prime integrator and trusted advisor, or it can provide consulting advice in targeted areas such as:

 

  • Network integration
  • Performance
  • Security
  • OSS/BSS integration, and/or operations analysis
  • Rapid integration of new revenue generating, enhanced applications

The SI partner should have specialized lab environments that allow it to pre-integrate end-to end solutions with its own best-in-class partners. The labs are also used to develop the stringent processes required to carry out realistic proof of concept, trial, and commercial deployments for the service provider.

This paper describes how to perform IPTV solution integration, blending end-to-end IPTV component technical knowledge with a strong business-focused approach to create closely integrated work packages that are strung together via a “golden thread” that ties together all deployment lifecycle phases for maximum efficiency and consistency, making IPTV deployments and enhancements predictable, reliable and successful. The golden thread is a proven formula and methodology based upon many years of lessons learned in the field.

 

Components of an IPTV Solution

The key components of an IPTV solution that are typically deployed as part of a video services solution include:

Head-end and head-end subsystems – Includes broadcast service components with relevant redundancy and management capabilities. These components include all the equipment needed for content ingestion, encoding, encapsulation, and encryption, as well as DVB data extraction components.

Edge-QAM subsystem – For cable operator deployments, the SI partner must have the expertise to perform supplier management and integrate the selected edge-QAM hardware within the end-to-end solution.

Content management system – Enables the content providers and the operator to self-manage the full content lifecycle from offline encoding, via ingestion and metadata management, pricing, packaging, bundling, marketing campaigns, through distribution and storage management. The CMS solution is a collection of integrated components covering the required lifecycle functionality of all content types.

Content protection: conditional access /digital rights management (DRM) – A suite of integrated components covering all aspects of content encryption/decryption. Tight integration between all solution components and the CA/DRM vendor components is required.

Video on demand (VOD) server and back-office systems – Video (or streaming) servers are responsible for pushing the content over IP via standardized protocols. Integration of the streaming servers with the head-end, CA, middleware and content management is required. Video services middleware platform – Central IPTV component carrying all the business logic of the IPTV service and responsible for interfacing and managing all solution components and players – e.g., underlying network, head-end, CA, video servers, back-office legacy systems (e.g., OSS, BSS, Customer Relationship Management [CRM]), Content Management Systems (CMS), Integrated Access Device (IAD), set-top box (STB), and end user.

Transport and access networks – the characteristics and capabilities of which bear heavily on service levels delivered to end users. The network is an integrated part of the overall end-to-end video solution and should be considered as such throughout the entire process of strategic planning, design and deployment.

Customer premises equipment: residential gateway (RG)/IAD and STB – The RG/IAD enables the operator to perform end-user provisioning and home device management. The STB is the main component the end-user interfaces with. The STB typically interfaces with the middleware either via a native client or web browser.

An experienced SI should be able to perform vendor evaluation for all solution components selection, including proof of concept, interoperability tests, benchmarking, and “shootouts.” Once the solution component is selected, the SI directly interfaces with and manages the supplier on behalf of the operator.

A Business-Focused Project Approach

A business-focused approach implies that the SI must be aligned to the service provider’s deployment journey from the initial services concept through commercial launch and beyond. Figure 1 below shows the typical phases an operator undertakes when launching a video services solution.

Click here to enlarge Figure 1

Moving through these phases provides the operator with maximum confidence in the service’s readiness in terms of stability and functionality. This approach also minimizes risks while receiving user feedback prior to commercial launch.

The schematic indicates several phases of market scanning along with one or two “friendly user” trials. Following commercial launch there are usually growth and solution extensions and enhancement phases. Eventually, a product enters a “steady state” period. At this stage, the solution is not frequently enhanced or extended, user growth is predictable, and at some point a decision is usually made to reinvent or retire the product. Due to the emerging nature of the IP video business and the ubiquity of IP, many of the current commercial IP video offerings are more likely to be enhanced into new products rather than retained in their current state.

Because service providers are historically very experienced in product introduction, an internal methodology usually exists – albeit focused on a different type of end-user product. Every provider has a different focus, experience, requirements, and way of working, which results in a well understood internal methodology. Usually this methodology is a set of traditional processes that the organization adopts when deploying new services that fit the organization’s structure, behavior and culture.

These processes and procedures – down to the smallest details – have become an integral part of the organization and constitute a methodology that the organization’s team members are accustomed to working with. The SI must take this internally developed methodology into account when assisting in an IPTV deployment.

Application of a Project Methodology

Experienced solution integrators have developed a project lifecycle methodology to guide their integration services. They also have created methodologies specific to individual solutions such as IPTV. The more experience the integrator has, the more its methodology will be end-to-end focused and complete. Superior methodologies, which can take years to build, should be flexible enough to align with the service provider’s internal processes and existing methodologies as highlighted above.

At a high level, professional solution integrator methodologies include five focus areas/phases that are executed in a cyclic fashion. These are:

 

  • Consult
  • Design
  • Integrate &Validate
  • Deploy
  • Maintain and operate

Simply adopting the integrator’s generic methodology may not be the optimum way to achieve the desired project results. The integrator should work with the service provider in order to understand the organization, culture and current methodology being applied to new service introductions. This allows the integrator and provider to collaborate on creating the optimal methodology for introducing video services – a methodology that best fits the service provider’s organizational structure and culture. In addition, it will thoroughly cover relevant video service solution areas, ensuring that all high-level criteria required for such a deployment are met.

Translating the Methodology to a Timeline

This resulting methodology has to be translated into a meaningful timeline. First, activity subjects are defined for each high-level step (i.e., consult, design, integrate, deploy, maintain and operate). Once defined, each activity subject (or “workstream”) is broken down into “boxed set” of activities called “work packages,” or, more formally, “professional services solution integration modules.”

The work packages are defined to meet specific customer business and technical needs. They also take into account the organization’s operational structure and include an estimated effort in time and resources. Adding all work packages and workstream timelines provides the overall project duration.

The figure below shows typical solution integration project subjects (workstreams) that fall into the high-level steps described above. When drawn in a linear fashion, the timeline provides an initial idea of the entire project’s duration and scope.

Click here to enlarge Figure 2

The work packages building the work streams are addressed as independent but correlated sub-projects. Each work package has its own scope of work duration, and associated resources for execution.

An experienced SI’s portfolio for IPTV should be constructed on a set of carefully selected field-proven work packages. Furthermore, the design of each work package should allow execution individually or in conjunction with others, depending on actual project requirements.

The Secret Behind Professional SI Framework Execution

A typical IPTV solution integration project involves many work packages. These work packages not only function as stand-alone modules, but also must be able to integrate with all other work packages. The ability to deal with the complexity required to bring all the work packages together as an E2E solution is the key characteristic of a successful, professional SI. As indicated in Figure 3, each work package may consist of dozens of subtasks and activities, and is usually handled as a project on its own with a dedicated project manager and team. However, the golden thread methodology applied by professional sis ensures that the single work package is closely linked to all other work packages associated with the project.

Click here to enlarge Figure 3

As indicated in Figure 4, each work package goes through a series of high-level methodology steps to ensure that all required information is available, that nothing is hidden from the team and that work package activities truly reflect all aspects of the project.

Click here to enlarge Figure 4

In a typical service provider project, work packages move through the consult, design, integrate, deploy and maintain cycles. When mapping the work packages to the five-step high-level methodology, the SI may find that some work package subtasks are already in process or partially complete. It is the job of the integrator to identify where each work package is in the five-step process, to verify that the steps already completed actually meet the required criteria, and to continue the process for the work packages as defined.

Fast Facts About Work Packages

In order to assist definition and project planning, work packages should;

 

  • Be clearly distinguishable from all other work packages in the project
  • Have a scheduled start and finish date
  • Be the responsibility of a team leader
  • Have specific resources assigned from the integrator, service provider and third parties
  • Be scoped from design to delivery
  • Be completely documented in the project book
  • Be flexible enough to adapt to service provider’s internal needs and allow tight cooperation between service provider, solution integrator, and other third parties
  • Be designed to work in tandem with other work packages as required to achieve the desired project outcomes
  • Have the ability to run standalone, allowing a specific offer (statement of work) to be produced for each work package

A Word on Program Management

For complex end-to-end IPTV solution integration projects, strong focus on program management is one of the keys to ensuring the fluidity and interaction between work packages, as well as overall program tracking and communication. It is advisable to have highly experienced program and solution managers as solution implementation integration and deployment leads.

The solution manager role typically involves making sure that all input is gathered, performing an overall status analysis, and consolidating the issues and risks associated with all project teams, including third parties. Specifically for third-party management, the solution manager should have access to all relevant information on the technical and operational aspects of the suppliers solutions.

The solution manager initially manages the project organization setup and resource assignment involving the SI, service provider, and third-party organizations as mentioned above. Subsequently, the manager actively steers the project organization; this encompasses all work-package leaders and teams involved. In order to do this, the manager should be closely aligned with peers in the service provider’s organization, as defined at the start of the project.

Multilevel Discipline

A multilevel project management discipline is recommended to ensure deployment success. This typically involves a program management office structure that is responsible for taking the project from service description through commercial deployment. The project organization should include key service provider personnel who will steer and manage the project.

A time-tested approach, depicted in Figure 5, is to create three project levels: project steering committee, project management and project operational. For smaller projects, only the project management and operational levels are required.

Click here to enlarge Figure 5


Project Steering Committee Level

This level includes representatives of the sponsor and enabler of the project. They articulate the project’s business-related goals and provide the project management level with the authority to manage the project as the leading team. The representatives meet at intervals determined by the business’s size and relevance of the project – typically once per quarter or, for very large projects, on a monthly basis.

Because the steering committee is comprised of executives from the involved parties in the project, it is the highest level of escalation in case of disputes. This approach also ensures executive participation in risk assessment, investment alternatives and project roadblock management.

Project Management Level

The project management team usually consists of program managers, sales managers, contract administrators, financial controllers and technical project managers responsible for field operations and third parties. Depending on project’s overall scope of work – i.e., the number of work packages and their contents — this team can be extended by adding personnel associated with specific functions. These specialized team members can work either full or part-time depending on project requirements and planning.

The project management team, led by a global project manager, acts in a matrix function on top of the standard line organization. This project manager is also responsible for actively managing the project work packages.

Project Operations Level

Project operations are under direct control of the project management level and usually consist of teams gathered from the service provider, SI, and third parties. Depending on the project phase, the operational level teams usually consist of tender, operational, and installation and commissioning staff, as well as business consultants, legal specialists, and engineering staff. Also included are staff with other technological competencies needed by the project management team to achieve specific project objectives. The project operations teams are responsible for delivering project-specific, predetermined deliverables by executing the statement of work defined for their assigned work package.

Conclusion

For a complex implementation such as IPTV, the negative consequences of deployment errors and implementation shortcuts underscore the need for a well-designed project delivery methodology aligned with the service provider’s business goals. Lessons learned based on global implementations have led experienced solution integrators to develop an IPTV solution integration approach that is flexible and also mitigates the most common risks and pitfalls that service providers are likely to encounter.

Most effective is a business-focused approach that breaks down typical project methodologies into specific work packages. These work packages are carefully developed and aligned to the service provider organization and capabilities. They are then executed under strict control from a multi-tier program management organization. Assigning specialists with specific expertise to each work package, and supporting the entire effort with resources such as in house lab facilities, provides both the solution integrator and service provider with a high level of confidence that they will achieve a successful IPTV integration and implementation.

The Need for IPTV End to End Solution Integration – Learned the Hard Way

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

End-to-end solution integration is not a luxury. In their eagerness to capture innovators, both the service providers that led the early IPTV service launches and the early adopters learned this the hard way. Now, more than a decade later, the same types of deployment and operational issues still exist. However, given the renewed industry focus on end user quality of experience that covers not only received video quality, but ease of use and provisioning and support, operators now realize they must build quality end-to-end integration into the deployment business case.

Introduction
It has been more than a decade since service providers first tried bringing IPTV services to their customers. But despite advances in technology and tools, many of the issues that derailed those initial efforts continue to pose challenges. That’s because the delivery of reliable, revenue-generating IPTV services is an inherently complex undertaking. It spans a variety of deployment and operational requirements—from video quality and ease of use to provisioning and support. Further, the end-user environment has changed since those early attempts: Broadband penetration now approaches 50% of U.S. households, and equipment like encoders, set-top boxes and DVD- and HD-based screens are more sophisticated. Providing a viable commercial IPTV service means addressing all of these issues in a comprehensive manner that’s based on lessons learned the hard way: from realworld IPTV deployments.

That’s where end-to-end (E2E) solution integration (SI) comes in. E2E SI makes use of proven, repeatable processes and methodologies to ensure the smooth implementation, operation and maintenance of IPTV services. In short, it addresses every part of the IPTV project—from the consultation and planning stages through rollout and beyond. E2E SI can be thought of as a “golden thread” that elegantly ties together all deployment lifecycle phases, weaving project work packages and workflows together for maximum efficiency and making IPTV deployments and enhancements predictable, reliable and successful.

However, because E2E SI is so wide-ranging, it typically requires the help of a third party. While many vertical solution vendors can address specific components of IPTV integration, only professional integrators with experience and expertise in every aspect of IPTV can give service providers the thorough, all-encompassing help that they need. Such a partner can draw on knowledge gained through hard-won, first-hand experience in IPTV implementation to make the right decisions every step of the way. This is a vital consideration given the competitiveness of today’s market, where E2E SI isn’t a luxury—but a necessity.

Click here to enlarge Figure 1


The Growth of Solution Integration

The importance of E2E SI can’t be underestimated, as evidenced by the problems encountered by early would-be providers of IPTV. From 1995 to 2001, few if any IPTV projects involved outside solution integrators. That’s because operators drew on their experience with older technologies in delivering a single service over a single network; they felt their in-house teams, familiar with infrastructure, could simply select best-of-breed products for each piece of the service, connect the components, and begin delivery of IPTV to their customers. Third-party vendors were sometimes brought in to help with specific products, but for the most part there was no such thing as an integrator that could oversee all aspects of the project end-to-end.

While many operators were nonetheless able to roll out IPTV services by their planned launch dates, few achieved meaningful success. In most cases, these failures could be traced to post launch problems with usability and quality of service. The problem was that operators typically approached IPTV as just another telco project—not a consumer entertainment service.

Consequently, they encountered significant difficulties. For one thing, they were unable to isolate, mitigate and rectify various unexpected issues, like video freezes. For another, they discovered that fully resolving these issues might take as long as a month or more. Further, they realized they had not implemented any efficient mechanism for provisioning and continued rollout. Predictably, subscribers terminated their services, sometimes after just a few days. Having learned these lessons the hard way, operators realized that E2E SI would be essential in ensuring successful IPTV deployments. That led to a rapid maturation of the video-related SI industry: Today, more than 90% of video services projects involving cable, IPTV and satellite include some form of SI, ranging from a specifically focused consultancy to the more common situation in which E2E SI is led by an established integrator.

Click here to enlarge Figure 2


What to Look for in a Solution Integrator

In today’s market, video service deployment is typically one part of a triple- or quadruple-play service introduction strategy. Consequently, it requires a solution integrator that has experience and expertise across a wide range of relevant technologies, applications, platforms and processes.

Unfortunately, not all solution integrators can deliver this critical combination of knowledge and skills. Sometimes, even when an operator puts its faith in a third-party integrator, the service deployment is unsuccessful; usually the problems can be traced to such things as improper service definition, insufficient architectural design, inadequate guidance in equipment selection, and the inability to tie all the components together via a “golden thread” approach that will ensure quality, usability and continued performance.

Clearly, that makes the evaluation of a prospective E2E solution integrator a vital undertaking. Following are the key questions that operators should keep in mind when considering a solution integrator:

  • Does the solution integrator have extensive experience in video service deployments worldwide, and can it draw on this experience and the lessons learned to the fullest extent?
  • Does it have professional services project managers, video experts, system engineers and all the additional personnel resources needed in taking on an SI project?
  • Can it smoothly incorporate third-party management into the project?
  • Does it implement and follow a proven SI methodology that it uses worldwide, one that covers all relevant processes and procedures, aligns with the service provider’s business structure, ensures maximum efficiency, and helps address unexpected issues?
  • Can it manage and mitigate the risk associated with complex, multi-component projects?
  • Does it have the ability to perform lab validation via its own infrastructure and dedicated validation personnel.
  • Can it bring video services solutions to commercial launch rapidly without sacrificing the end-user’s required quality of experience?

It’s essential that operators seek out solution integrators that can deliver on each of these items. Choosing such a partner not only greatly improves the likelihood of successful IPTV deployment; it also helps the service provider free up resources to focus on other key projects.

Solution Integration: A Real-World Scenario

The importance of the preceding considerations can be clearly seen in the following actual IPTV deployment. The operator in this case seemed to be moving smoothly toward a successful launch: pre-commercial tests were promising; personnel were proficient in the use of the middleware, head-end gear, network infrastructure equipment, and CPE already on site; and more than 50 consultants from major telecommunications and networking companies were on hand to provide both technical and business consulting services.

Yet, what seemed on the surface to be a sure thing was anything but. The operator learned when commercial deployment got under way that there was no single point of communication; its in-house personnel and vendor consultants were not working in a synchronized manner. Thus, there was no assurance that the complex layers of network infrastructure, middleware and other applications and devices would work together seamlessly.

What the operator didn’t have at this vital stage was what it needed most: Full transparency into every aspect of the project, so that if something went wrong it had a way to fix it and move forward.

So the operator decided to bring in a solution integrator. After making a high-level analysis of the project status, the players, and the technical solutions, the solution integrator identified a number of issues that needed attention. The operator then asked the integrator to assume overall management in bringing the solution to market. At that point the solution integrator took the following actions:

  • It reorganized and focused the project organization, including the definition of all work packages and staffing them with relevant, qualified people from the operator, the various vendors, and its own consultants
  • It re-scoped project work packages and obtained operator sign-off
  • It consolidated and issued a new project plan.

The new methodology ensured that all project work packages were identified and structured under the project organization. Each work package was then placed within a lifecycle as defined by the overall methodology. A snapshot of some of the work packages within the lifecycle defined by the SI methodology is shown in Figure 3.

This was the first time the operator had a clear picture of the magnitude of the required actions. The solution integrator also provided the operator with an analysis of all the consolidated project information. In addition, it created a detailed statement of what was feasible within the required timeframe, providing clear visibility into the process as well as the solution blocks and how they interconnected and correlated. The solution integrator also described the risks associated with deviating from the plan, adding to the operator’s understanding of the project’s trade-offs.

Click here to enlarge Figure 3


The operator was then able to make decisions based on the following proposed options: raise the project risk and keep the existing scope, or reduce the scope and the associated requirements. The operator opted for the latter, so as to reduce the risk that various project elements would not work together and undermine the stability of the E2E platform.

The solution integrator then applied the methodology to each work package and guided the efforts of the work package teams. The result was that none of the potential problems the solution integrator discovered surfaced during the implementation—and the deployment was a success.

Learning from Experience

While the preceding scenario illustrates some of the issues that can impact an IPTV rollout, solution integrators with extensive experience on numerous IPTV projects can draw on a wide range of lessons learned and apply them to the project at hand. With this wealth of knowledge at its disposal, an established solution integrator can offer valuable advice to operators as they embark on their IPTV service initiative.

Top line Advice

1. IPTV rollout incorporates both change management and technical deployment, so matching people and processes with appropriate technical skills is a must.

2. The number of people needed by the solution integrator and the operator will differ greatly for each phase of the project.

3. Service definition is a key element of solution design, the CapEx budget, and overall business case.

4. IPTV is by definition a highly complex program initiative, thus requiring very stringent change management discipline to be successful.

5. Some project timelines cannot be compressed, so sufficient time for completion has to be allocated. This often means that the entire organization will have to adhere to new organizational and operational processes.

6. IPTV is not just another data application but a network and service transformation that other services will leverage.

Deeper Into the Details

Solution integrators have also through experience learned just how different IPTV is from other service implementations. These are the IPTV-specific issues that they can educate operators about

1) IPTV SOLUTION DEPLOYMENT REQUIRES A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT SET OF CAPABILITIES, WHICH USUALLY SHOW UP AS KNOWLEDGE GAPS IN THE OPERATOR’S INTERNAL ORGANIZATION

Telecom has expanded its horizons beyond bandwidth and pipes and now offers numerous products and services that are marketed using various pricing schemes, packages and discounts. But IPTV adds another dimension. It’s all about the user experience and it requires the ability to market not just TV channels and movies, but also one-time attractions like sporting events or rock concerts. Content and programming are key concerns; operators may thus want to consider hiring personnel from the TV industry who have experience in this area, and who know how to negotiate with content providers and form long-term relationships.

2) FOCUS ON THE USER EXPERIENCE, NOT OBJECTIVE MEASUREMENTS

Pinpointing packet loss is all well and good, but how are viewers seeing things on their end? If images are freezing, they won’t care how many packets have dropped — they just want their programming delivered without delay. That makes “quality of experience” the key measurement. Operators should thus be prepared to perform a pre-qualification of the line, followed by pre-provisioning. If they go on-site, the operator’s installers must be trained to guide customers through the new service offering and be able to respond in a professional and friendly way to customer requests and questions. In short, consistency, reliability, quality, and ease of use are some of the key consumer factors.

3) TAKE A NEW APPROACH TO NETWORK PLANNING

With IPTV, traffic peaks don’t follow traditional seasonal trends (like spikes during end-of-the-year holiday season), but rather appear during specific events like sports championships, season finales or blockbuster concerts. Network planning should thus reflect these realities.

4) ADJUST TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF DELIVERING MULTIPLE TYPES OF TRAFFIC SIMULTANEOUSLY

Online broadcasting involves different types of traffic traveling to the consumer in parallel, each with its own set of specific set of requirements. These include linear channels over multicast, voice-on-demand over unicast, SVOD and related granting mechanisms, pay-per-view, text and overlay graphics for notification and/or advertisement, interactive applications, and required back-end applications.

In some ways, though, these recommendations only scratch the surface of IPTV-specific issues. Operators must also have a well-tuned OSS/BSS in place. They need to address familiar matters like network security and not-so-familiar ones like digital rights management. They have to tailor the help-desk — both in terms of technology and personnel training — to reflect the specific IPTV service issues that might arise.

And because IPTV isn’t just an add-on service, operators need an organization dedicated to the service, especially with regards to content management. This might include a content acquisition team, a video operations team, and possibly a video editing team to handle ratings, censorship, and other matters. Audio specialists will be needed to fine-tune quality. Installers will be needed for home deployments. And marketing communications specialists will be needed to run dedicated marketing campaigns. Further, the electronic programming guide must be clear and error-free—and easily updatable to reflect changes. Likewise, the user interface needs to be reliable and easy to use. Finally, operators will need to have a plan for implementing future capabilities when TV, mobile phones and the Internet all come together. These are the kind of detailed recommendations that only a solution integrator — with extensive experience gained through lessons learned the hard way—is able to deliver.

How the Solution Integrator Works with the Operator

True E2E SI is a comprehensive, all-encompassing undertaking that involves close cooperation between the integrator and the operator as they tackle complex processes and technical challenges. Following is a list of important considerations — from pre-launch to post-deployment — for operators as they engage a solution integrator to help with their IPTV implementations.

Executive Buy-In

The support of top management may seem like an obvious requirement, but sometimes it is lacking. Without it, the IPTV implementation can be undermined by endless discussion and inaction. Upfront buy-in by the top decision-making executives is a necessity, so that the solution integrator can proceed with the overall mission of helping the operator roll out its IPTV service.

Coordination, Communication, and Continuity

It is the role of the solution integrator to coordinate the efforts of all personnel and functions to ensure that timeframes are adhered to and goals are met. This applies to all of the operator’s diverse internal population: marketing, product management, engineering, operations, core transport, DSL, help-desk, roll-out, IS, finance, testing, head-end, quality and legal. On some occasions it might be appropriate to bring all these functions together in one room. This could be especially helpful at the beginning of the project — so as to properly define roles, deliverables, dependencies and requirements—and during the weeks leading up to a launch, so as to deal with the last outstanding issues.

Obviously, building a cohesive working group also means speaking the same language and understanding the local culture. It is the solution integrator’s responsibility to provide subject matter and technology experts who know how to communicate with and train the operator’s local personnel.

Further, because even a basic IPTV rollout can take nine to 12 months, continuity across functions and personnel is essential. Over this long a period, not everything can be recorded—and many of the important details are in the heads of key personnel. Therefore, continuity is key.

Close Supplier Relationship

The solution integrator must also establish a close working relationship with suppliers. For primary suppliers—such as middleware vendors—daily calls and weekly or monthly face-to-face meetings are advisable; they will provide opportunity to share updates on roadmaps, delays, and other issues. One of the advantages of working with a large solution integrator is that its experience and purchasing power can be leveraged to optimally meet the operator’s requirements.

Well-Structured Project Workflows

Project workflows that are well thought out and carefully crafted allow implementation teams to focus on the many parts of the rollout. Work packages constructed around specific workflows require experts and personnel continuity from the start to the end of the project. The work packages must contain clear deliverables and deadlines.

Standardized Solutions

Unless the operator has a compelling reason to adopt a fully customized solution, a solution integrator should advise starting with a standard, well-understood solution feature set. The technical, organizational and marketing challenges are already big enough without adding another layer of complexity.

However, the solution integrator should help the operator understand that service definition is not necessarily final at launch. Budgeting and resource planning should reflect the potential need to meet new requirements as service features and market conditions evolve. In general, an iterative approach to implementation works best; it is better to move in small steps and evolve gradually to meet market demands.

Network and Solution Essentials

A solution integrator should at the project’s outset help the operator understand network requirements for supporting new IPTV services. IPTV makes for considerable capacity and infrastructure demands, which if unmet undercut the customer’s quality of experience. Solution integrators and operators need to learn upfront whether the network is robust enough to keep delays, freezes and other performance glitches from occurring. Flagging load and performance testing and measurement upfront is thus essential. Because this is very difficult to execute in the field, it is advisable to perform network load and performance tests in a protected lab environment. This allows references to be developed that can be compared to the field situation.

Video Monitoring Tools

Ensuring end-to-end video quality requires operators and solution integrators to implement monitoring tools and determine where in the network to deploy them. In IPTV streams, there are several places where problems can arise, so correlating issues through a comprehensive test and measurement system is essential. Many operators have already embarked on the development of a dedicated video operations center function to gain control over end-to-end video quality.

Rapid Hardware and Software Evolution

Because of the rapid evolution of IPTV technology, a fixed-price contract spanning several years is not the right approach. Today’s vendors sometimes can issue new hardware generations every six months. Requirements and applications change on frequent basis. Established solution integrators can help operators take an iterative approach in dealing with (and leveraging) rapidly changing hardware and software.

Customer Training Prior to User Acceptance Testing

The solution integrator should ensure that operator personnel have sufficient solution training before the implementation moves into the user acceptance testing phase. IPTV is an organic and complex technology, and it may pose special challenges for operator personnel more accustomed to working with conventional networks.

Operational and Support Needs

After the launch, a solution integrator can work with the operator to operate, manage, and maintain the solution. The concept of a “network release” becomes critical when considering how to plan and deploy upgrades based on multiple end-to-end solution components and dependencies. This means consolidating relevant and needed enhancements, patches or new applications that can be deployed at a single time.

The key to successful E2E SI is the definition of focused project workflows that ensure that issues usually encountered after the first launch are in fact anticipated, identified and resolved at the very beginning of the project cycle. Orchestrating these project workflows so that they support one another mutually throughout the entire project is essential

Conclusion

It has been more than a decade since the first major attempts to implement IPTV met with failure. But even today, many IPTV projects run into the same problems that doomed those early efforts. Complexity, lack of coordination and the inability to smoothly integrate processes and procedures keep operators from capitalizing on the opportunities IPTV services present.

End-to-end solution integration (E2E SI), however, can help operators achieve their IPTV goals. A comprehensive, all-encompassing approach to service deployment, E2E SI covers every stage of the IPTV project, from planning and design, through rollout, and beyond. As such it can be seen as a “golden thread” linking all aspects of the IPTV implementation together, so that processes, technology and personnel are in sync with one another, thus ensuring successful deployment.

In short, E2E SI is a necessity. But it’s also a demanding undertaking that many operators cannot accomplish on their own. They need the help of established, third-party solution integrators that — with hard-won experience and extensive expertise—can leverage a proven methodology for applying the lessons they’ve learned to the project at hand. With a trusted partner as their solution integrator, operators can be sure their E2E SI efforts will result in an IPTV service solution that helps them gain new customers, increase revenues and continue to compete in a challenging market.

The Business Value of the Network Integrator

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

THE COMPLEXITY CHALLENGE

Within the last few years, service providers have engaged in a wide array of initiatives to transform their networks and business models to monetize growing user demand for new interactive multimedia communications and entertainment experiences. While the drive to grow revenue is, and will remain, a core factor for operators, the requirement to save on operating and capital costs has more recently risen to equal prominence, as new data revenues have not yet made up for declining voice services and slowing subscriber growth for most operators.

Many paths to more cost effective service provider operations are being examined. The most prominent of these is to migrate to an all-IP-based network. Whether fixed or mobile operator, this migration requires a transformation from time-tested legacy infrastructure with built-in reliability to a relatively new set of platforms that require careful engineering and integration to ensure a premium quality of experience. The transformation also requires changes in OSS/BSS and opens up the possibility of new service delivery and customer management business tools and models.

As a result, service providers are engaged in a more complex integration environment than ever before. While the overall concept of transforming to an IP-based network is conceptually feasible, the multitude of migration and optimization requirements that are visible in today’s network environment threaten to overwhelm service provider staff capabilities at a time when cost management is becoming the key priority.

Case Study: Cost Reduction At BT

Project examples include British Telecom’s investment in a converged IP core network, an intelligent service enabling infrastructure based on IMS, an operations support systems (OSS) architecture based on commercial off-the-shelf systems, and the development of an open application layer that allows faster time-to-market for traditional and Web 2.0 services. These initiatives, dubbed the “21st Century Network” by BT, are based on a business case that emphasizes platform consolidation as a way to first reduce operating, development and maintenance costs; and eventually generate new services and new sources of revenue. The clock is ticking on achieving this transformation, as BT intends to close down its last PSTN switch in 2011.

However, such cost reducing initiatives can be hampered by complexity; multiple projects are required to not only transform the various domains of the network, but integrate them into a seamless end-to-end working solution. The process of translating the vision of a transformed network into a positive business case and process road map can be very time consuming. After the road map is complete, then the work really begins with a multitude of sub-projects to drive the transformation of each network domain and the overall end-to-end network solution.

Needed Expertise

In many cases, service providers lack the expertise to effectively carry out both the pre-transformation planning and the post-execution training and ongoing support of numerous projects. Manpower shortages and a lack of specific knowledge/expertise may be an issue for a small-to-medium operator, while even a large operator may lack the technology expertise in IP or Web services to effectively carry out the plan with only in-house resources. Alternatively, service providers may have internal expertise but wish to prioritize the utilization of these resources to address their core competence – developing and delivering end user services.

Frequently, a number of outside “experts” are brought into the service provider to carry out major transformation projects, or certain subprojects within a major project. These vendors can include:

  • Telecom equipment suppliers working with the network-facing elements;
  • IT systems integrators working with operational support and billing systems; and,
  • Software and Internet services specialists focused on applications.

Without careful management the cost and time requirements of the sub-projects may quickly wipe out a large portion of the cost savings in the original business case.

However, one strategy being adopted by a growing number of service providers to minimize the cost of transformation is to select a single integrator that brings together a combination of its own skills and a roster of “best-of-breed” partners to achieve desired transformation goals in the most efficient manner.

THE DOMAIN CHALLENGE

According to TBR’s Telecom Infrastructure Services Model (TIS), service providers worldwide will spend more than $15 billion on integration services in 2008, as shown in Figure 1 below. TBR’s TIS Model tracks telecommunications infrastructure services spending by service providers worldwide. Published semiannually, the model is based on analysis and forecasts of product-attached or capex-driven services such as deployment and maintenance, and non-product-attached or external opex-driven services such as professional and managed services.


As indicated in the preceding figure, service provider investments are expected across four major domains to achieve effective end-to-end network transformation. The domains address the key areas of the service provider infrastructure, and each domain requires a set of specialty skills to support the required optimization, consolidation and integration goals of each subproject. The four key domains are defined as follows:

Subscriber Domain

Transformation in the Subscriber Domain enables a shift from mass market services built to provide a common experience to all end users, to easily accessible services tailored to the individual on demand. Service providers are well-positioned to deliver these services because they can leverage assets such as subscriber presence and location information, subscriber preference information, single sign-on capability, real-time rating and charging, and content administration. Service providers gain differentiation by an ability to account for individual preferences and desires, which builds customer loyalty and reduces churn. In addition, this new capability allows service providers to field alternative business models such as advertising.

In addition, the transformed Subscriber Domain makes it easier for service providers to deliver third-party applications that support value-added services tailored to the individual subscriber. Critical to this capability is the ability to provide third-party services access to federated subscriber data. To transform the Subscriber Domain, operators must integrate multiple subscriber systems into an optimized management system that allows subscriber data to be quickly and easily accessed by service provisioning and delivery and billing systems. However, the transformation process goes beyond simply replacing aging silos of subscriber data with a distributed intelligent database: transforming the subscriber domain means enabling personalization and delivery of targeted content for end users, in addition to consolidating platforms, while maintaining the quality of experience, regardless of the targeted end user network or device.

Applications Domain

The Application Domain of the network is perhaps the most critical of the four domains. As service providers rapidly convert to software-oriented architectures that support concepts such as “write once, deploy everywhere” applications, the ability to provide a common development platform is crucial. For example service providers such asAT&T base their implementation of new service layer-enabling technology on the number of services they can rapidly bring to market. With AT&T in the midst of deploying U-verseIPTV  service for the home and high-speed HSPA wireless broadband networks, the goal for a growing number of these services is that they be accessible via “three screens” — the PC, the television and the mobile device.

In addition to the “three screens” target, service providers are leveraging SOA and Web 2.0 environments to reduce the time to market for application deployment. The goal is to make available IP-compatible services as quickly as possible. This requirement increases the need for a well-integrated application delivery environment that can seamlessly leverage the underlying IP network.

Added to these requirements is the ability to present and quickly deploy applications from third-party developers without reengineering network interfaces. The new Applications Domain must not only be capable of delivering to any access point, but must also be capable of seamlessly integrating with non-native applications. The transformed service delivery environment therefore requires seamless migration and mediation services for third-party applications.

Billing And OSS Domain

Integrating billing and operations support systems (OSS) are crucial to managing customer revenue acquisition and retention, and ensuring network and applications reliability and consistent quality of service. Transformations in this area typically focus on consolidating diverse OSS and BSS systems that today address separate silos or applications, to create a single, consolidated support management system that tracks and manages the customer based on all his or her relationships with the service provider. In concert with the subscriber and application domain evolutions, future billing systems must evolve to support new customer relationships and new application revenue recognition models such as advertising and third-party revenue sharing.

OSS consolidation on commercial off-the-shelf platforms is gradually replacing the highly customized platforms of the past. These operational support systems must also accommodate new network elements, particularly the ability to monitor and manage IP traffic and cross-domain applications.

Network Infrastructure Domain

The integration of high capacity access networks with common core network elements supporting reliable delivery of IP multimedia services requires unique expertise. Service providers are increasingly relying on partnerships with equipment suppliers to guarantee quality of service in these implementations. Many are turning to out-tasking or outsourcing models to reduce costs for in-house training.

Ultimately, however, integrating the layers of network infrastructure from the device to access, aggregation, edge, core and transport to deliver services in an optimized seamless manner requires a range of network integration skills. Further, these evolutions must be accomplished in concert with transformation in the other domains to achieve effective end-to-end implementation.

Network Integrator Role

As Figure 2 indicates, the Network Integrator delivers best-in-class integration capabilities within each of these four domains and, most importantly, delivers the design, project management and integration services expertise to integrate the entire set of domains to deliver the desired services to end customers.

Without sufficient attention to integration requirements across domains, service providers run the risk of lack of project coordination, imbalanced investments among the various domains and not meeting end-to-end service objectives. A Network Integrator is often needed to resolve such issues because many service providers still operate in silos of control, in which each domain is owned and managed by different stakeholders in the company.

Case Study: Verizon’s Silos

Verizon Communications provides a good example of a network operator in the early stages of transformation. The company’s core businesses, as characterized by Verizon’s Director of Multimedia Services Architecture Bill Goodman, include:

  • A local telecommunications business that is focused on transforming from traditional voice service to fiber to the premise (FTTP), delivering a bundle of intelligent, interactive services;
  • A business services arm, Verizon Business, that is evolving to an IMS-driven, SIP-based services model; and,
  • Verizon Wireless, a mobile business joint venture with Vodafone Communications, which is upgrading capacity to support VoIP and fixed mobile convergence by means of dualWiFi /CDMA devices.

NETWORK INTEGRATOR BUSINESS VALUE

While there are many integrators operating within today’s service providers, consolidating the transformation projects under the supervision of a primary Network Integrator offers the following areas of business value:

Cost Savings

There are a number cost savings benefits to working with a Network Integrator, including 1) consolidating supplier management, 2) maintaining overall project vision and 3) ensuring project goals are achieved in a timely fashion.

Consolidating Supplier Management

By establishing the transformation process as a project under the guidance of a single Network Integrator, the service provider consolidates the cost of supplier management. Rather than manage a host of subprojects with different suppliers, the service provider, according to the business plans, maps out a vision and sets performance expectations according the business plan with a single partner. The Network Integrator is responsible for managing the subprojects within the context of multivendor agreements with the appropriate third parties and the service provider. With the right Network Integrator, the service provider will also be able to turn over supplier sourcing, resulting in additional savings in time and staff resources. Alternatively, the Network Integrator may be required to work with other suppliers identified by the service provider. The integrator must be skilled at both identifying appropriate suppliers and working with installed base suppliers or service provider preferences.

Maintaining Project Vision

Because of the multiple domains involved, service providers can easily become focused on a portion of the transformation within a single domain rather than maintain the complete roadmap. Operating independently, suppliers can move at varying speeds within subprojects and lose track of the big picture. These issues can cloud the once-clear evolution/transformation path across domains, causing imbalanced investments and outcomes for key milestones. For example, an IT supplier may implement an integration project involving the deployment of new consolidated BSS/OSS platforms without sufficient understanding of the changes in the underlying network, or parallel subscriber and applications domain. This may require costly additional integration expenses to create the appropriate interfaces or even change major aspects of platform functionality to accommodate the misunderstandings.

Achieving Goals on Time

Acting as the chief project manager, the Network Integrator ensures that cost savings through platform consolidation and other transformations are achieved according to deadline. Often these savings can be delayed due to interdependencies of the various sub-projects. The Network Integrator’s role is to help the service provider identify interdependencies and effectively manage them to meet the project timeline. The Network Integrator may bring its own design and analysis tools to bear on the full-scale transformation, allowing better risk mitigation and contingency planning across all subprojects and suppliers involved.

Faster Time To Revenue

As in the case of BT, while many of today’s transformation projects are based on business cases that focus on cost reduction, operators understandably expect to attain new sources of revenue at the end of any transformation project. Decreasing time-to-market and reducing investments required to launch new products and services will continue to be requirements in transformation projects.

While many service providers engage in IP transformation as a hedge against future challenges to their business models, most foresee the impact of new sources of revenue from services that blend personalized content with multimedia and multi-device access capabilities. They also expect new revenue sharing and advertising models to create incremental revenue. These future value/benefit expectations are driving today’s transformation projects.

The Network Integrator must possess sufficient expertise with new revenue sources to achieve the revenue-generation milestone, and not just settle for delivering cost savings. This commitment is a change from the traditional position of equipment suppliers, who have historically operated with a philosophy of “if we build it (the network), they (subscribers and revenue) will come.” In short, the delivery of the subscribers through investments in customer acquisition was up to the service provider.

The age of the Network Integrator does not mean a fundamental shift in roles. Service providers must still invest in customer acquisition and focus on new services development. But the Network Integrator, operating in partnership with the service provider to achieve the transformation vision, shares the requirement to secure subscribers. To this end, the Integrator must possess end-customer knowledge through research and experience so that the transformations within each domain cater to real revenue value for the service provider.

Figure 3 maps the Network Integrator skill requirements to the key domains to achieve the transformation sought by the majority of service providers today. The data indicates that the Network Integrator role requires both domain and project management expertise at a multivendor level, as well as experience achieving transformation milestones.

Case Study: Telstra — One Click

Telstra represents a major network transformation project in which the skills of the Network Integrator have been crucial to meeting project milestones and delivering benefits to the service provider, according to Michael Lawrey, Telstra’s Executive Director for Network and Technology. Telstra’s journey began in November 2005 with the challenge of creating an end-to-end IP infrastructure that could enable “one-click services,” whereby the end user could access a consistent experience no matter which network access method was used. To enable the IP infrastructure to meet this, Telstra executed three infrastructure transformations:

  • Transformation of the mobile network infrastructure to a next-generation network
  • Installation of a high-capacity IP core network
  • Transformation of a next-generation access network
  • Cross-domain network operations and service delivery

The Network Integrator, in this case Alcatel-Lucent, provided complete end-to-end cross-domain project management. “Regardless of the equipment we used in the network, the integrator was responsible for it all, even including the testing and quality assurance tools,” Lawrey said.

The key for Telstra was to work in close collaboration with the Network Integrator, which provided a single point of accountability. In addition to managing the interdependencies of a multivendor, cross domain environment, the Network Integrator provided the critical functions of ensuring that subscribers would be served efficiently with the quality of experience Telstra expected. Lawrey characterized this as making sure the customer delivery system operated effectively, including services activation and network assurance.

Telstra achieved cost savings of 30% to 40% by employing a single Network Integrator, Lawrey said, including via a reduced workload on Telstra’s staff and through cost savings in equipment and services from the suppliers involved in the project. “By pushing the workload to a single integrator we achieved economy of scale,” Lawrey said.

The transformation of Telstra’s network domains is an ongoing project that includes the complete lifecycle of deployment, operation and maintenance. Lawrey expects the Network Integrator to come along for the entire journey. “We have built a relationship not only with the country team, but also the global assets of the supplier. We have a deeper relationship with coordination of global road maps and strategy. This is a partnership for the lifecycle of the network,” Lawrey said.

SUPPLIER SELECTION

While not all firms can fit the bill across the range of skills required for the Network Integrator role among suppliers, service providers have a short list of consolidated firms that are vying for the opportunity. These include the largest suppliers of telecom infrastructure services as shown in Figure 4.

SUMMARY

The importance of the Network Integrator role will continue to grow as service providers move more aggressively toward transformation. Maintaining the skill sets and delivering on the project milestones will be key differentiators for suppliers in both IT and telecom going forward. Alcatel-Lucent has an early lead with positions in a number of major service provider projects. With the role of Network Integrator open to a single supplier at each account, the company’s position is the strongest of the top suppliers. However the position will not go unchallenged; each supplier will work from its installed base and technology position to gain the role.

Energy Transformation Technologies

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

The energy utilities industry is very conservative. The combination of long asset life and the absolute priority on safety and reliability has meant that many of the technologies have not changed radically since the 1950s.

Now that is changing. Faced with the rapid shift in energy-consumption patterns, the move to green energy solutions and the evolution of communications technologies, utilities are reassessing their energy delivery strategies.

This article explores the pressures that this industry is facing. It takes a look at how two of the big technology changes — smart grids and smart metering — mandate the need for a cohesive communications strategy.

The Industry Pressures

There are four fundamental pressures on today’s utilities:

  • The changing pattern of electricity consumption, driven by the extensive proliferation of air conditioning resulting in the peak period of electricity consumption moving to the heat of summer.
  • The move toward green energy solutions, epitomized by the European Commission, which requires (among other things) 20% renewable energies in overall EU energy consumption by 2020.1 This is not uniquely European: politicians everywhere are pressuring utilities to accommodate environmental change.
  • Consumers and regulators alike are demanding highly reliable energy delivery, vital in maintaining an efficient national economy.
  • Financial stakeholders require better operational efficiency. Large-scale investment in new energy infrastructure is to be avoided where feasible. Given that the basic electricity infrastructure lacks the flexibility to track swiftly changing market pressures, utilities are examining two complementary approaches to increasing the efficiency of their networks:
  • Intelligent networks
  • Smart metering

Intelligent Networks

Intelligent networks (a term covering smart grids, substation automation and distribution automation) aim to improve the utilization of the network assets by monitoring and controlling them far more closely than previously possible. For example:

  • Make the energy-carrying capacity of a network dynamic by measuring in real time climatic conditions such as instantaneous temperature or the cooling effect of the wind, thus enabling better network utilization.
  • Today’s distribution networks have little real-time measurement or control. Intelligent technologies will provide a far more accurate picture of demand, energy flows and network incidents, yielding a major improvement in energy reliability and asset utilization.
  • The modern techniques of “condition monitoring” — monitoring the network assets for telltale signs of performance degradation — allow a very accurate forecast of equipment failures to be built. This means that assets can be replaced on a just-in-time basis, delivering significant investment savings and increased energy reliability. The benefits of intelligent energy networks are huge. They extend the lifetime of the assets, optimize power flows, increase energy reliability and enable investment to be focused where it is most needed.

Smart Metering

Smart metering is primarily intended to make consumers more conscious of energy consumption, thus leading to reduced consumption during peak periods and an overall reduction in the production of greenhouse gases.

Informing the user is merely the first step: facilitating the desired action by consumers requires two other capabilities:

  • The use of tariffs to encourage energy consciousness (whereby high instantaneous demand during periods of peak demand is charged a premium price)
  • Direct control of major household appliances

Smart metering brings its own set of challenges. This is a new application using new technologies — the smart meters, the communications network to access millions of devices and the platform to manage them.

Communications as the Key Enabler

As stated above, the technologies used in the energy networks have not changed radically since the 1950s. Thus, communications networks have, in general, been built up over several decades using ad hoc, application-specific technologies, with little network sharing and, in many cases, with little management or control.

To deliver the benefits of intelligent networks and smart metering, a homogeneous, reliable, flexible communications infrastructure is essential. Today, it is feasible to create a single cohesive network that will support:

  • Latency-critical applications such as teleprotection
  • Existing modem-based SCADA applications
  • Intelligent network and smart metering applications using modern communications protocols
  • IEC61850 Ethernet-based services for future automation applications
  • Other future applications, such as closed-circuit TV (CCTV) for physical security, which will expect the latest communications protocols to be supported This results in a typical infrastructure as shown in Figure 1.


In this architecture, the multi-service optical transport layer ensures the support of both mission-critical operations such as teleprotection services, with their very tight technical requirements, and existing applications using traditional TDM-based protocols. Simultaneously, it efficiently transports packet-based data for new services and applications on the same infrastructure.

The IP/MPLS layer supports new packet-based applications traffic, including substation automation, smart metering and security services with a virtualized network using Layer 2 and Layer 3 VPNs. Corporate voice, video and data applications can also be supported, with traffic management features ensuring that mission-critical operational traffic is given priority.

This network architecture delivers high reliability with secure support of mission-critical operations traffic. The associated end-to-end management capability makes this network easy to manage, allowing utilities to lower the skill barrier for staff.

It has allowed existing applications to be migrated and supported without disruption and has enabled systems operators to realize the consequent efficiency and reliability improvements.

For those starting down the road to energy network transformation, experience suggests a number of steps:

  • By starting with the high-voltage substations, a modernized multi-service TDM and Ethernet transport footprint can be established that will support all utility services.
  • Substation transformation to Ethernet services will be driven by asset life cycle management or new plant construction. New Intelligent Electrical Devices will simply plug in to the transport footprint established earlier.
  • Distribution automation and smart metering should be considered as complementary activities (where the regulatory regime permits). In this way, an access network can be built that supports both these applications in a single, cohesive network. This requires that the complete future access requirements are considered at the outset of the project, otherwise utilities risk perpetuating application-specific, vertically integrated networks, thereby aggravating communications inefficiency.

Conclusion

Energy utilities are on the cusp of the first real technology change in network and metering technologies since the 1950s. This change is predicated on the requirement for a robust, reliable and flexible communications network that will support existing mission-critical applications as well as the evolution to modern smart grid and smart metering technologies.



Technology Companies Create Wireless Gigabit Alliance

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

More than 15 technology companies have become the Wireless Gigabit (WiGig) Alliance, an organization formed to establish a unified specification for 60 Gigahertz (GHz) wireless technologies.

According to company officials, the WiGig specification will allow devices to communicate without wires at gigabit speeds within a typical room. The group’s vision is to create a global ecosystem of interoperable products based on this specification, which will unify the next generation of entertainment, computing and communications devices.

“Our member companies are leaders in the wireless, CE, PC and handheld markets. They have the technical acumen and business experience to make the 60 GHz wireless technology a reality for both the home and enterprise,” said Dr. Ali Sadri, President and Chairman of the Wireless Gigabit Alliance. “To help bring this technology to market, we welcome new member companies to join our group.” “We’re now at the point where the last barrier to wireless being able to do everything that wire can has fallen,” said Craig Mathias, a Principal with the wireless and mobile advisory firm, Farpoint Group. “In both the residence and the enterprise, more capacity and throughput are always desirable. WiGig Alliance is going to deliver technology that will have an enormous impact on connectivity and mobility, information technology, consumer electronics, and many other applications.” Among the companies that comprise the board of directors for the alliance are Atheros Communications, Broadcom Corp., Dell, Intel Corp., LG Electronics, Marvell International., MediaTek, Microsoft Corp., NEC Corp., Nokia Corp., Panasonic Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. and Wilocity.

The WiGig specification is expected to be available to member companies in Q4 of 2009.

WiGig Tempts With High-Speed Wireless Data Transfer

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Cables

A new standard aims to offer gigabit-speed connectivity without the clutter of cables.

“What we are talking about here is the ability to download a 25 GB Blu-ray disc in under a minute,” says Mark Grodzinsky, chairman of the marketing workgroup at the Wireless Gigabit Alliance. “It’s not something you can do with Wi-Fi or any other standard right now.”

The Wireless Gigabit Alliance, a consortium of electronics companies, has established a specification for 60 gigahertz wireless technology that can offer users data transfer speeds ranging from 1 Gigabits per second to 6 Gbps. To put it simply, WiGig could be at least ten times faster than today’s Wi-Fi and it could be available to consumers by the end of next year.

The need for fast wireless data transfer plays into two big trends: the proliferation of multimedia and the increasing cable clutter than users have to deal with.

Users are increasingly getting hooked on Hulu, browsing through Flickr and clicking on YouTube shorts. But for all their new streaming media players or cameras, consumers haven’t been able to cut the cord.

Take the set-top box in today’s home that has to be connected to the TV through an HDMI cable. “This is one of those technologies that almost 100 percent uses a wire because the speeds required to stream a high-def 1080p video is at least 3 Gbps,” says Grodzinsky, “and no wireless technology today can do that across multiple applications.”

That’s where WiGig could step in. The standard will allow for extremely fast file transfers, wireless displays, streaming media, and wireless connections for devices such as cameras, laptops and set-top boxes among other things, says the Alliance. It won’t have the same range as a Wi-Fi network but it is ideal for devices that want to communicate without wires at gigabit speeds within a room or adjacent rooms, says Grodzinksy.

“Today’s wireless networks will top out at a few hundred Mbps but what we are talking about here is multiple gigabits of data transfer speed,” says Craig Mathias, principal with research firm Farpoint Group. “That plays into the ever-increasing demand for throughput.”

WiGig joins a fray of wireless standards that are fighting to free consumers from being tethered to their devices.  In most homes, Wi-Fi has emerged as the standard technology for wireless access. But it is too slow to handle high-definition video or transfer pictures from the camera to the laptop.

Wireless Standards & Data Speeds

802.11g Wi-Fi: The basic and most widely used Wi-Fi connectivity offers speeds of up to 54 Mbps.

802.11n Wi-Fi: The faster W-Fi standard it offers data transfer at up to 300 Mbps.

Standard Bluetooth: Most widely used between cellphones and headsets, it offers top transfer rate of about 3 Mbps.

Bluetooth 3.0: The ‘high-speed’ successor to standard Bluetooth, its top transfer rate hover around 24 Mbps.

Wireless USB: It can offer speeds of up to 110 Mbps  at a range of 10 meters and 480 Mbps over a range of 3 meters.

Wireless HD: Aimed at HD video transfer it can offer speeds of up to 4 Gbps (for 10 meters). Theoretical speed can go up to 25 Gbps.

WiGig: The newest kid on the block tantalizes with promise of speeds ranging from 1 Gbps to 6 Gbps.

Zigbee: This low-power wireless standard is for applications that require low data transfer but quicker response time such as remote controls.

Meanwhile, other standards such as wireless HD and Zigbee have sprung up offering to solve these problems. But they just aren’t broad enough to be used across multiple applications. Take wireless HD. Despite its promises of high speed connectivity, it is largely seen as a vehicle for high-def video transfer.

WiGig has a bigger umbrella, says Grodzinsky. “We want to be more than simple cable replacement,” he says. “We want complete interoperability and be on a number of platforms from TVs to notebooks.”

WiGig also benefit from the use of the unlicensed 60 GHz spectrum, says Mathias. The availability of greater bandwidth in that spectrum allows for faster transmission.

For now, the specification isn’t final. The Wireless Gigabit Alliance hopes to complete it by the end of the year.  From there it is up to companies to bring the technology to market.  WiGig will also have to battle other technologies to become the de facto standard.

“Ultimately, the question is how many different kind of radios do you really need?” says Mathias. “There’s not just competition from Wi-Fi and wireless HD but also cellular technologies such as 3G, LTE or WiMax.”

WiGig is likely to  bump up against IEEE’s attempts to introduce follow-ups to the 802.11g and 802.11n Wi-Fi standards. The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers), a non-profit organization, has been working on proposals to introduce the extremely high throughput 802.11ac and 802.11ad standards. The 802.11ad standard will also be based on the 60GHz spectrum but is not expected to be available before 2012.

“There are competing technologies to WiGig that are looking for standardization,” says Mathias. “The WiGig Alliance hopes to get a head start now and they might submit their standard to the 802.11ad group to be included in the specification.”

Either way this battle of the standards plays out, it is clear for consumers truly high-speed wireless data transfer is zipping into their living room.

Architectural multi-touch application at cebit 2008

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

At cebit 2008 introduced instantware. it is a sub brand of instantreality a custom interaction device

The multi-touch table which features several scalable plans. Where multiple users can move and zoom these plans like you know it from other multi-touch applications.

But the key feature is the tile with a high quality 3d view of the building. Now implemented the multi-touch 3d camera gestures: you can grab a plan with the left hand by one finger of right hand moves the camera through the 3d model. the second finger defines the orientation of the camera. This enables incredible cinematic camera movements in 3d. when the second finger points on a certain object on the plan and the first fingermoves around it the 3d camera moves around that object while keeping it on focus.


More images from cebit 2008 at:
http://www.youtube.com/user/igeedee
http://www.flickr.com/photos/21016452@N03

Security: SurveillanceShaker for iPhone released

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Finally . SurveillanceShaker is the iPhone version of SurveillanceSaver, which has been downloaded more than 50.000 times and covered by BoingBoing, TimesOnline, Financial Times, Wired, …

surveillanceshaker

SurveillanceShaker brings more than 1000 CCTV cameras on the iPhone. It becomes an addictive live soap opera when watching places around the earth in real time and guessing what will happen next. You’ll see live images of streets and buildings but also surprising images of russian internet cafes, hotel lobbies, server rooms, barns with little pigs and many more. Just shake or double-tap your iPhone to switch to the next camera.

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The iPhone App is based on our public-viewpoints project. public-viewpoints is a geo-webservice serving links to public CCTV cameras around the world. It allows queries for CCTV cameras via geo location (Lat / Long, Country, City) and returns GeoRSS, CSV or simply the link. public-viewpoints is a Google App Engine project written in Python.
http://public-viewpoints.appspot.com

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Security: CCTV Cam Screensaver

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Surveillance Saver is software, not something to investigate. But it’s a functional product involving security cameras.

It’s a screensaver for Mac OS X which taps into the worldwide Axis security camera network. These cameras share their footage online and Surveillance Saver aggregates them on your desktop, allowing backseat snooping. Like any good software release these days, it’s still in alpha, and tends to flicker in and out on my MacBook, but the fascination of these real-time glimpses is undeniable.

Something for the future “must have” when the bugs are sorted out.

200711051216Images of axis network cameras can be simply found by searching for their unique url:
http://www.google.com/search?q=inurl:%22jpg/image.jpg%3Fr%3D%22

A short python script extracts the urls and checks if they are working or dead. the rest is done in Quartz Composer.

installation:
copy the file into your home folder’s “Library/Screen Savers” and activate it in “System Preferences/Desktop & Screen Saver”. please use it on your own risk: the screen saver is still alpha. SurveillanceSaver is under Creative Commons license..

Download SurveillanceSaver – http://code.google.com/p/surveillancesaver/downloads/list

Update:

Windows version now available

Home automation: Philips’ $1,836 Remote Control

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Philipsprontonx

If you’re in the market for a remote control of greater size, weight, complexity and cost than a high-end video player, Philips has the model for you. Hell, it probably has a better LCD display than the average portable a/v player. At $1,836, however, that’s hardly a surprise.

The Pronto NX PowerLite can send instructions into the ether via IR or WiFi, and comes with all the scary enthusiast peripheral hookups that the stupidly rich could ever want. Got a rackmounted home automation system to deal with? It even has an integrated music server.

Home automation: Control Your Universe

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Clear some space on your coffee table because here comes another universal remote. The Logitech Harmony 1000, however, may actually fulfill the concept of “universal.” Yes, it’ll control your plasma TV, stereo and video game console. But thanks to Z-Wave, the wireless home automation standard that lets you control household appliances, the Harmony 1000 will also let you lock your doors, lower your window shades and dim your lights. It has codes for 150,000 different devices — all accessible through its 3.5-inch touchscreen — truly making you king of your castle. No word on pricing.

Pachube: Connect, tag and share real time sensor data from objects, devices, buildings and environments around the world

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Pachube is a web service available at http://www.pachube.com that enables you to connect, tag and share real time sensor data from objects, devices, buildings and environments around the world.

The key aim is to facilitate interaction between remote environments, both physical and virtual. Apart from enabling direct connections between any two environments, it can also be used to facilitate many-to-many connections: just like a physical “patch bay” (or telephone switchboard) Pachube enables any participating project to “plug-in” to any other participating project in real time so that, for example, buildings, interactive installations or blogs can “talk” and “respond” to each other.

Pachube is a little like YouTube, except that, rather than sharing videos, Pachube enables people to monitor and share real time environmental data from sensors that are connected to the internet. Pachube acts between environments, able both to capture input data (from remote sensors) and serve output data (to remote actuators). Connections can be made between any two environments, facilitating even spontaneous or previously unplanned connections. Apart from being used in physical environments, it also enables people to embed this data in web-pages, in effect to “blog” sensor data.

Pachube makes use of Extended Environments Markup Language (EEML) and an EEML Processing library is available to connect directly to Pachube without needing to know or understand EEML. A basic API makes it possible to both serve and request data in CSV and EEML format. In addition, for those operating behind a firewall, or with non-static URLs, or who wish to update less frequently than usual, the API enables manual update by an HTTP PUT request.

 

There is a tutorial available for beginner/intermediate Arduino and Processing users to connect Arduino to Pachube (both as an input and as an output).

 

Relevant URLs:

 

http://www.pachube.com/ (the home of Pachube)
http://www.ugotrade.com/2009/01/28/pachube-patching-the-planet-interview… (interview with Pachube’s founder)
http://eeml.org/ (Extended Environments Markup Language)
http://eeml.org/library/ (EEML library for Processing)

The Future: Smart networking, LonWorks, the IP network, and open source computing are going to drive a different world

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Lunch7

At Apple co-founder Mike Markulla’s Venetian Hotel-styled private theater in this posh Palo Alto suburb, the chairman of Sun Microsystems, makers of Java, and CEO of Duke Energy, makers of 36,000 megawatts of electricity in coal and nuclear plants, shared the stage.

The CEOs found common ground pushing a vision of the future where light switches are superfluous and any device that uses power is networked, easily automated, and far more energy efficient. Holding up a standard Sun identification card, Sun Chairman of the Board Scott McNealy noted that it was faster than an Apple II computer.

“We can connect anything that is more than a dollar in value,” he said.

But McNealy’s declaration that he was “over” the network was the real highlight of the hour-long event to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Markulla’s post-Apple endeavor, Echelon, which makes sensors and controls for all types of devices.

“I want my stuff to be on the network”   said McNealy.

Coming from the CEO of a company that once had the tagline, “The network is the computer,” the comment drew laughs from the small crowd. McNealy admitted that his statement probably was “not the best marketing thing.”

Crowd

Beyond his glib distaste for social networking, McNealy and Jim Rogers, Duke Energy’s CEO, presented a serious case that the future of networking lies with your toaster, lights and curtains. By turning “dumb” devices into nodes on a smart network, the businessmen said that the entire economy could be restructured to use energy more efficiently.

“I believe the most energy efficient economy is going to be the one that provides the greatest standard of living for its people,” Rogers said.

Rogers also noted that utilities would have to redefine their businesses away from commodity power and start making money by helping their customers control, not just use, their electricity.

“I see embedded in every customer six to eight networks and on each network there’s three to five applications,” he said. “What if I create value by optimizing those networks and those applications?”

That’s a major change in thinking for utilities that previously considered their job finished when the electricity hit your meter.

Though they painted grand visions of what the future could hold, both executives said there were many challenges to be met in creating the network of things.

“There’s a lot of work to be done,” McNealy said. “There’s a lot of work to take the complexity out of client devices and to take the cost out of client devices.”

Jimrogers

Cost and complexity have slowed the adoption of home automation systems, but all three companies clearly see an opportunity to capitalize on the high cost of energy and increasing concern over carbon emissions.

McNealy even dropped Echelon’s protocol LonWorks into his solution for the future.

LonWorks, the IP network, and open source computing are going to drive a different world where per capita energy usage can plummet as green becomes the new black”, he said “And I mean black in terms of making money.”

Rogers’ vision was equally amibitious and showed that the North Carolina-based CEO knew his big-thinking Silicon Valley audience.

“At the end of the day, what I’m gonna provide is universal access to energy efficiency the way we provided universal access to electricity in the last century.”

Images: Jim Merithew. Top: Scott McNealy speaks to the crowd. Middle: The crowd is bathed in green LED light during a demo of the room’s fancy lighting system. Bottom: Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers lays out his plan for the future of a smarter electrical grid.

CEDIA 2008: Home Installers Love iPhone Apps

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

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The iPhone 3G may be the new universal remote control real soon.

Custom installation companies are, offering custom applications for a variety of A/V systems. They include a Windows Media Center App, lighting fixture controls, and even a full security-monitoring app.

As a result, you’re now able to perform wondrous tricks, like leaving the house with the door unlocked, walk a block, then lock it through your iPhone. That will be perfect for childish shenanigans on Halloween.

Here are some of the new iPhone apps of the installers:

ILoveControl’s app works with Cestron systems and is available as a free download at the Apple App Store starting today. It controls up to 16 zones of A/V systems (like climate and shading), lighting and more. While you can’t customize your own system yet, Cestrom says it will add this feature to the iPhone app in the near future.

Ilovecontrol

Check out more iPhone A/V apps after the jump.

Savant_iphone_formal

Savant Systems – The control platform of the main Savant systems are based on Apple’s OS X Leopard and an iPhone app was only natural. Savant has created a colorful app that controls all of its main systems, and it is creating an ‘Excellence in AV’ program where Apple developers can use the guts of the systems and create new design applications.

Lagotek_iphone_sideshow

kanos Consulting’s Go Gadgets – Use your iPhone to go through Windows Sideshows for presentations.

Using Kanos as an in-between hardware installer with the iPhone as a remote seems like a good idea. Especially when you realize that it can work with Outlook, if that’s what you’re into.

Netlinc

SmartLabs’ NetLinc Insteon Central Controller – Insteon gadgets manage everything from the lighting of the gymnasium to the security of a house, which is why many installers seemed very excited about the possibilities with the iPhone.

One thing people weren’t that excited about? The fact you still need a receiver for every electrical plug in order for it to be placed under the iPhone’s control. Also, the UI of the app is not that well designed, as you can see from the picture. Mainly, it’s too small, simple, and ugly too look at.

Airremote

AirRemote – Uses a global cache adapter to control different A/V home systems, but apparently, is supposed to cost over $100 to manage from your iPhone. That doesn’t sounds like a great buy incentive.

At CEDIA, they announced an update to the App, taking into account the 36 card slots for customized A/V configurations of their new systems.

Commandfusion

Command Fusion’s iViewer – This third-party app works with Control4 and Crestron devices, and just like a few others, you can control the lights, and the temperature of one or many rooms.

SpeakerCraft’s MODE Multiroom App – The company known for crazy kooky rock speakers will include their iPhone app along when an installer buys its full in-wall speaker system.

Wl3iphone

HAI WL3 – HAI Control Systems can already be manipulated by most other PDAs, since it’s built on top of WL3 software.

My House UI for Control4 A/V Systems (see lead photo)– My House UI controls multi-room music, and the home theater, though it’s only supposed to work on the same WiFi network at the same Control4 system, disallowing the openness the device is meant to offer.

RIOE and Philips Show Transparent OLED Prototypes at Tokyo Fair

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Oledtransparentoled

Philips Electronics and other companies researching future display technologies got together at the Big Sight lighting fair in Tokyo to unveil cool new OLED prototypes, including the latest builds of transparent displays.

Philips Research mainly used the event to show its recently announced OLED light display grid, the Lumiblade, a basic, super-bright lamp slab that had previous problems with ‘luminance variability.’ Apparently, that’s been worked out (the lamps light up evenly) and they should start being sold by the end of the year in Europe, most likely for businesses.

But Philips reps apparently had to start talking up its transparent screens (above), since The Research Institute for Organic Electronics (RIOE) stole the show with its own transparent screen window display. The screens, measured at 70-75% of transparency, provide owners with the ability to let light in during the day and then use them as image panels at night.

Rioe_oled_20090305

RIOE hasn’t officially revealed its secret sauce behind the transparency, but it should follow the process of its other OLED screens. Mainly, they place an organic EL device layer on a glass substrate and then use heat and ‘radiating functions,’ a voltage type, generating an energy reaction that lights the panels. RIOE also showed a bright OLED that consumes only 15 watts for hours at a time, perfect for saving some money and electricity.

Last year, Sony and the Max-Planck-Institute in Germany created some of the first transparent displays that rendered moving images, and they did it through the chemical process of photoexcitation. That reaction is caused when rapid-fire lasers excite photosensitive chemicals embedded in a polycarbonate transparent sheet.

As for Philips, they also haven’t revealed exactly how they’ve created their own transparent displays, though it’s obvious from the previous examples that an organic polymer layering process is likely used.

For now, none of these prototypes have a price and most (except the Lumiblade) won’t be available for another 3-5 years.

Check out the RIOE OLED layer process after the jump.

Lighting: Flat Glass Panels

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Planilum_light

The glass is the light.

viagra generic now

Don’t let the gorgeous design distract you – the light emitting glass known as Planilum created by French design firm Saazs and Saint-Gobain Innovations differs from any lighting you’ve seen before.

For one, the light seems to be both drawn on the glass and living within it.

For another, it’s expected to last for about 20 years since the electric cathode is not in contact with the light’s gasses as with a normal bulb.

Instead, electricity applied to the base of the glass runs through transparent conductive layers which excite the plasma gas trapped in layers of glass. Then phosphorus painted on the glass reacts to the plasma and creates a glowing and diffuse light.

While warm, the light is not hot to the touch.

That means a coffee table, shelf or wall can be a room’s light source, according to Saazs designer Tomas Erel, making Planilum a “new generation of lighting.”

“The little points of light we all know will vanish,” Erel said. “Surface light will take over.”

The Planilum lights turn on and off instantly and are currently a bit more efficient than neon – without using mercury or losing brightness over time, according to Erel.

Saazs’ One — the four-foot tall panel featuring rows of donut-like radiating light circles pictured above — costs €2,500 Euro, or about $3,600 U.S.