The overall goal of the Project is to define an open interactive multimedia terminal architecture, application and delivery media independent, that allows a full software implementation. A toolkit of modules (covering part of the architecture) will be developed, in a distributed environment, which could be reused in different instantiations of terminals depending on the actual time, manufacturer and product. The currently implemented terminals will be integrated in networked demo platforms. By means of trials carried on the National Hosts suitable applications will be used to validate the architecture and get the necessary feedback for its revision.
The Project directly addresses the specification of the multimedia terminal, immediately followed by its software implementation. The necessary validation of the concepts and of the architecture is carried out through the actual implementation of terminals (based on two different platforms: Personal Computer and Set Top Box) matching the specified architecture and a minimum of experimental activity for which a demo platform and few applications (covering unidirectional and asymmetrical services) are provided.
As a result of the validation tests a revision of the SOMMIT architecture will be made, updating the specification and tuning the software library forming the building blocks of the SOMMIT terminal architecture. Due to the foreseeable limited power of the available terminal platforms a only subset of the whole architecture will be actually software based.
Summary of Trial
The SOMMIT terminal will be integrated in a real communication environment. The validation will be carried out running the developed applications on the SOMMIT demo platforms.
The validation phase, starting in September 97, will imply the use of the National Hosts in Belgium, France and Italy. The relationships with the respective responsible Organizations have been established and the contracts finalized.
The key issues of the Project are all derived from the main goal of creating an open and standard full software interactive multimedia terminal environment.
Incorporation of the achievements produced by the key international fora (e.g. DAVIC, OMG, TINA-C, ATM Forum) is the basic guideline to materialize that goal.
The compliance to the specification of interfaces and protocols at the reference points identified by DAVIC provides the concrete framework for architectural definition.
As new emerging technologies could bring different approaches to the problem of software portability, the Project will consider whether and to what extent the different solutions can be mixed to provide the best result.
The achievements of the Project are, so far, according to the initial expectations:
Specification of the terminal architecture and of the general layered networked client-server configuration.
Set up of a distributed software development environment according to the software engineering approach.
Development and testing of the software modules used by all the sub-systems (part of the software toolkit).
Set up of the networked client-server platforms for the trials.
The Project already promoted and collaborated to a number of initiatives to illustrate and debate the solutions he has defined. The most relevant are listed in the following.
Organization and chairing of the STB Workshop during the Domain and Chain meeting in Louvain-La-Neuve (May 31st).
Organization of a half-day seminar during the SII Chain meeting held in Milan (Sept. 11th).
Participation in the UNITEL seminar in Brussels (Dec. 4th).
Contribution to the preparation of the Guidelines
The same approach will be followed to disseminate the results that will be further achieved. Among the desired effects of this exchange of information with the other Projects one can identify the following: the implementation of experimental architectures based on the same open approach for application portability; the definition and/or implementation of application sources or multimedia servers; the implementation of tools to assess the user acceptance of interactive services. Projects envisaged as making part of the cooperation with SOMMIT are: AMUSE, DAM, OKAPI, SETBIS, SICMA and SMASH.
The foreseen effects of the project are:
Broadening the market and competition on MM technology, content, service offering.
Enabling a more rapid upgrade of quality and functionality offered to the end user with protection of his/her capital investment.
Increasing the application interoperability and fruition of MM information & communication services for the end user
The way that the Project turns out could influence the Society organization :
New potential employment in the MM products area.
Wider application of MM in administration, health care, education, etc. enabling, in particular, end user home fruition of social services at low investment cost.
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