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Creating and Delivering Shared and Personalised Multi-Screen Broadcast and Broadband Experiences

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - 2-IMMERSE (Creating and Delivering Shared and Personalised Multi-Screen Broadcast and Broadband Experiences)

Reporting period: 2016-12-01 to 2018-11-30

The 2-IMMERSE project has developed a new open-source platform for object-based multiscreen entertainment. The ambition of the project was to accelerate the development of new genres of personalised television experiences using multiple screens in which the content can be customised to suit: the available client devices; the available bandwidth; the capabilities of the devices; and the personal preferences of its audience. The object based approach is an important component of the project approach as content objects are rendered at the client device (the television) rather than prior to transmission at the broadcaster. This makes personalisation possible.

The project worked on a number of fronts to:
• understand and address the challenges involves in designing multi-screen experiences for homes and public spaces
• develop an architecture for a platform that can be used for the distribution of multi-screen experiences using an Object Based Broadcasting approach that is resilient, scalable and extensible
• build a software platform conforming to the architectural design that supports the requirements of the service prototypes
• understand and address the challenges in producing and distributing live multi-screen experiences using an Object Based Broadcasting approach
• promote the Object Based Broadcasting concept emphasising the benefits it offered service providers
• gain the rights to use content from MotoGP, The English Football Association, BTSport, The Donmar Warehouse and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
• evaluate multi-screen service prototypes using dramatic content based on Football, Shakespeare and Motor racing for distribution to both homes and public spaces.
• make it easy for stakeholders and industry to understand, learn from, and take advantage of the work that has taken place in 2-IMMERSE
The key results of the 2-IMMERSE project are:

The 2IMMERSE Service Platform: Our platform adopts an industry standard containerised microservice approach. Our reference implementation was managed using Rancher, however we have also shown it running on top of other management platforms, as well as a local standalone deployment scenario that was demonstrated at IBC 2018 (and part of the open source offering). Thus we have shown that our platform design is lightweight and versatile while being scalable and highly available. This software platform is being made available under open source license.

A Reference Architecture and Open Source Software Components for a Distributed media Application: 2-IMMERSE has defined a reference architecture relevant to both the production and consumption of object based media and is designed to support resilience, scalability and extensibility. Live services are enabled using software components, that render media, support user interaction and/or implement application logic, which are orchestrated across the participating devices by a cloud service platform. HTML/CSS/JavaScript as in HbbTV2 was used as the common client software environment. This constellation of orchestrated software components is the Distributed Media Application (DMApp). Three separate software components (DMApp components) are specifically required to work together to ensure the service places the right content components in the right part of the right screen at the right time. These functions work together effectively to adapt content for display in a range of different environments, e.g. sport presented in a public space compared to in the home.
These three functions are:
• A Timeline Service; that controls the temporal composition of all the media items and components.
• A Layout Service; that determines an optimum layout of components providing spatial orchestration considering authored layout requirements, user preferences, and the set of participating devices and their capabilities.
• A Bandwidth Orchestration Service; this monitors the bandwidth consumption of the audio/video components and reallocates bandwidth to optimise the overall quality of experience.
The software for each of these services is available under open source licenses.

Prototype production Tools: In developing the prototype service implementation we needed new tools and a new workflow to support the triggering of graphics. This live triggering software is available under an open source software license.

“On boarding” software: This allows the user to discover running services that they could join to create a multi-screen experience with their personal devices. Our solution allows companion devices to discover and join running services and to define the role that each screen should take in the multi-screen experience. The on-boarding process is common to all our prototype services and has been iterated through the project to incorporate new requirements as they emerged. The software for this on-boarding process is available under open source license.

Prototype Service Implementations: The 2-IMMERSE platform and tools have been used to create 4 demonstration services where each demo required an evolution of the tools and platform and introduced new capabilities:
• Theatre At home demo introduced the platform and proved the basic concept
• The MotoGP demo introduced orchestrated launch (AKA “Onboarding”), bandwidth orchestration and user profiles.
• The Football demos tested aspects of real time service customisation in the home and in the public FanZone scenarios
• The Theatre In Schools demo used the same basic platform capabilities to create a completely new multi-screen interactive educational service concept.
Videos of these services are available.

Design Insights: The design principles adopted within the project helped us build the service prototypes based on high value content with strong brand identities. This involved responding to the ambition, scope and resource of the project, respecting what has gone before and invoking good UX design principles. The project captured numerous context specific insights that have influenced the designs and may be useful to other services designers e.g. specific insights related to the how augmented reality can be used to offer signing services for the deaf were noted.
The 2-IMMERSE results were promoted through publications, presentations, videos of our service prototypes and through an extensive presence at IBC 2018. The project took a stand in the future Zone, featured on two other stands and spoke in the technical conference. The presence at IBC received significant interest for the use of their results by third parties to use Object Based Broadcasting to support personalised and multi-screen experiences.

The project built and tested 4 pilot scenarios demonstrating value across the creative and technology value chains. 2-IMMERSE developed new production craft skills that allow broadcasting to evolve into a new landscape of audience interaction and attention.

The 2-IMMERSE impact can be felt as the demos are being used by the consortium members for considering new product evolutions in their service offerings. Selected platform components are being put in the open source domain to encourage take up of the Object Based Multiscreen Entertainment concept.

Work from 2-IMMERSE has been internationally recognized with 2-IMMERSE work receiving the Best Paper Award at TVX2018 and the MotoGP service prototype winning best Multi Screen Service at the 2018 HbbTV awards.