STORit investigates end-to-end solutions for the delivery of multimedia services to end-users involving the combination of a broadband delivery channel such as DVB, lower bandwidth connections such as the Internet and affordable local mass storage at the user's home. The project will focus on two application areas: digital television and remote learning.
In the television area, it will investigate ways to provide and obtain additional information to accompany broadcasts, via both the DVB signal and separate channels. On the one hand, consumers will have easier access to many services and sources of information and will be able to match these to their personal preferences. On the other hand, the service provider will have more and better means to lead the user to other services, such as related programmes, publications, web sites, etc.
In the area of remote learning, STORit will focus on options for study at home, making extensive use of local storage, but also of low-bandwidth connections to provide interactivity with teachers. Here too, personalised service will play an important role, in order to optimise the learning process for each individual student.
A system will be developed to implement such end-to-end solutions. This will include tools to prepare content and additional data, a home storage system supporting several storage media and delivery channels, and user interfaces to present it all to the user in an intelligible and personalised way.
The project will begin with an extensive analysis of the application areas under study. It will explore how to make the recording of television broadcasts easier, how to make access to different services more transparent to the user, how to personalise the training process, etc. This will help define the ingredients required to realise the desired functionality.
Based on an analysis of the digital television and remote learning applications, a common hardware and software platform will be devised that supports both. The platform will to some extent make use of the results of the SMASH project (AC018), in which many of the STORit partners have participated.
The local storage server developed in SMASH, based on a combination of a linear tape drive and a hard disk, can be reused in the STORit project. It will be extended with new storage media including optical discs and the digital successor of VHS, D-VHS. Also several ways of communication will be incorporated, such as Internet-based communication and access to additional information in DVB streams.
The platform will also support the software modules required by both application areas, such as storage content management, intelligent retrieval, agent technology to achieve personalisation, and user interface technology. On this common platform the two applications, digital television and remote learning services, will be implemented. At the end of the project, both will be operational.
Summary of Trial
Both applications developed by STORit will be operational, and will be tested with real users. Realistic user trials can only be done once the hardware and software platform have been completed and the applications developed on it are up and running, i.e. towards the end of the project. But for some parts, e.g. a user interface concept, dedicated tests can be done in earlier stages. The tests will mainly be performed in a laboratory environment, but the working systems will be demonstrated to a wider public at, e.g. a conference or trade show.
At the end of the project, both the applications in remote learning and digital television services will be operational, based on an improved mass home storage device, supporting several storage media, developed in the project. Much will be learned about the efficient use of local storage to the benefit of the user as well as the service provider. New services will be generated that exploit this knowledge and give consumers easy access to large quantities of data, tuned to their personal preferences. The insights gained, especially in the use of local storage in combination with DVB, will be used in contributions to standardisation, e.g. in DAVIC.
Storage will play an increasingly important role in our homes in the future, as increasing amounts of information reach the home through different channels. There will be a need for systems, such as those developed by STORit, which manage this information in an intelligible way and provide easy access to services at an affordable cost. By experimenting with the possibilities of digital broadcasting, the Internet and mass home storage at an early stage, the results of STORit should form a basis for services that will be standardised (e.g. in DAVIC) and subsequently adopted in the real world of broadcasting.
Main contributions to the programme objectives:
Demonstration of a DVB/Internet application and the development of a personalised remote learning system.
Contribution to the programme
The functionality enabled by TV Anytime was a major contribution to the standardisation process. The remote learning system provided an educational meta data standard.
The main issue in the digital television services application area is the exploration of options to exploit mass home storage in new ways, to the benefit of both the consumer and the service provider. Transparency and affordability to both user and provider are of key importance here. Underlying this, optimisation of the required storage system is vital to the smooth operation of the new services.
In the remote learning area, a key issue is the optimal combination of local mass storage and a low-bandwidth channel for interactivity and feedback. In addition, ways of personalising the material and the user interface to adapt to individual students of various levels are of prime importance.