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Storage for Multimedia Application Systems in the Home

Objective

The SMASH project is investigating user needs for local storage in the home environment to enable the cost effective use of future Multimedia Services.
Based on this investigation a storage system consisting of a hierarchy of storage technologies will be developed. This system should satisfy both the demand for large storage capacity as well as the need to access the stored information in a fast and interactive way.
The main objective is therefore to show the technical feasibility of an integrated storage unit that is connected to the network and other consumer equipment and enables the efficient downloading, storage and retrieval of information for all multimedia applications.
The SMASH prototype system requires the development of several key components. Up to now the first version of the following key components has been realised - the high performance tape drive and hard disk drive and the high speed interfacing between these drives, a file management system, a database management system for storing multimedia information on the SMASH system and the extraction of information for the retrieval system. Currently we are working on a first integration of the several technologies into an integrated prototype system.
The expected end result of the project will be the demonstration of an integrated storage system, based upon state-of-the-art advanced key components, that will contain a disk and tape system.
Expected Impact
There is no doubt that in the future the consumer will receive massive amounts of digital information in the home. It is to be expected that the consumer will want to save some of this information for later use.
Besides the current consumer interests of saving interesting multimedia information in the home, new interests will be raised in the near future. We expect that the SMASH project will also have a significant impact in the educational area where distant learning and smart access to educational material are emerging issues.
Furthermore the possibility to automatically download information via the network at times when consumer does not actually need it (e.g. during the night) will be much appreciated. The user can then browse the downloaded material at a later stage and make his/her selection. All this is only possible if a cost effective storage system becomes available in the home.
Therefore the results of the SMASH project are expected to be of great benefit to the future users of digital information.

Main contributions to the programme objectives:
Main deliverables
A recorder and player was developed for satellite and cable (DVB) services, especially digital (MPEG) video. It contained service information and increased user friendliness browsing and selection of services using the program guides and visual contents of the services. A cryptographic approach was also developed, to prevent unauthorised copying of recorded material in digital video recorders, and methods for extracting still images from (MPEG) video, including the use of these images for navigation through the video content.
Contribution to the programme
The project developed a total storage system in the home from digital satellite reception up to the display of video streams. It also opened up the possibility of new ways to structure and use training material and contributed to local storage standards.

Technical Approach
The project aims to develop technologies that are suitable for consumer use. Magnetic tape will therefore be chosen as the medium for mass storage.
Studies will be done to increase the storage capacity of a tape system and to improve the access time. For the interactive use of multimedia services a rewritable disk system will be used. Studies will also be carried out on ways to interconnect a tape and a disk system in an optimal way.
To the user, a combined tape-disk system must behave as one integrated system. Therefore studies will be performed in the following areas: file management, file allocation strategies for a combined storage system and search techniques on a tape-disk system.
The development of applications which can benefit most from local storage will also be essential. Such applications will be tried out on early prototypes of the SMASH system and will be further developed jointly with the development of the storage technologies.
Investigations and tests will also be performed on how to interface the SMASH system with other equipment in the home.
Developments in the other projects of the Project Line will be followed closely and there will be suitable co-operation with other ACTS projects.
Summary of Trial
The verification of the developed technologies and applications is a very important aspect of the project. Suitable trial experiments can only be done after a SMASH prototype system has been developed and finalised. Trial experiments will start during the second phase of the project. During this phase some SMASH prototypes will be built and their functions will be verified in these trial experiments. One such experiment will be carried out at the University of Ljubljana using the SMASH system in a remote education application.
Key Issues
The development of a user friendly and cost effective storage system for consumer use requires the further development of several key technologies. Improvements in recording heads, fast access systems and the realisation of fast transfers between a tape and disk system are very important.
The development of new techniques for file management, for addressing large amounts of data and for the automatic allocation of information on different storage subsystems are also key issues. The handling of encrypted information inside a storage system is another important aspect.
The parallel development of all these technologies is needed for the SMASH system to be finished in the given time frame

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

Philips Research Laboratories
Address
Prof. Holstlaan 4
5656 AA Eindhoven
Netherlands

Participants (8)

Deutsche Thomson-Brandt
Germany
Nederlandse Philips Bedrijven BV
Netherlands
Olivetti Telemedia SpA
Italy
Address
Via Lorenteggio 257
20152 Milano
Philips Italy
Italy
Tandberg Data
Norway
Technical University of Delft
Netherlands
UNIVERSITY OF LJUBLJANA
Slovenia
Address
Kongresni Trg 12
University of Essen
Germany