The PISTE project based on the advent of Digital TV broadcast, the advances in 3D-visualisation, image processing, and the MPEG-4 emerging standard for the efficient communication of rich interactive multimedia material, will develop a system that will transform TV watching into an immersive interactive experience. The project that will address the needs of broadcasters and home viewers will focus on the coverage of sports events. Viewers equipped with a receiver prototype, to be developed in the project, will be presented with augmented views of the events, will able to interact with visual objects to obtain information and customize the way in which they watch the events. In addition, the use of a Head Mount Display will provide immersion and a feeling of "being there".
The PISTE project will build a system, addressing the needs of broadcasters and home viewers, which will transform TV watching into an immersive interactive experience during the coverage of sports events.
The main objectives of PISTE are:
a) The provision of tools based on digital video processing, 3D-visualisation and animation techniques, and a novel XML/VRML to broadcasters, for creating augmented reality views of the events.
b) The development of tools for the encoding and playback of rich interactive multimedia content in MPEG-4. The assessment of MPEG-4 for broadcasting such content over a DVB infrastructure and its presentation on set-top equipment.
c) The specification of requirements for the implementation of MPEG-4 playback on consumer electronics equipment.
d) The assessment of the DVB infrastructure in supporting large scale Virtual Environments through the use of MPEG-4.
e) The assessment of the system through experiments with the involvement of real actors.
The rationale of the proposed work structure is based on the incremental development methodology that assumes that the problem definition is not fully covered in the start of the project but that problem understanding grows through prototypes and demonstrations that provide input from the users. In this framework, first, a survey of related application will be carried out in order to make users aware of the possibilities and limitations of the technology and to help positioning PISTE in the market with respect to other related systems. Based on the survey of related applications, user requirements and application scenarios will be specified. Then will follow the functional specification and design, and the implementation of the first PISTE prototype. In parallel to the implementation, the material (3D models, images, videos, etc) that will be needed for the trials of the initial prototype in both sites will be prepared. The PISTE system components that will be developed in parallel by the technology partner will be integrated into a complete implementation of the initial prototype of the system that will be used for trials in both sites. Based on the evaluation of the initial system prototype during the trials, the system design will undergo eventual design revisions based on which a final prototype will be implemented. In parallel to the implementation of final prototype, more material will be created for the trials of the final prototype that will fully demonstrate the capabilities of the system. The final prototype will be used as a reference installation for demonstrations, especially in relation to the Athens 2004 Olympic games, and the evaluation of the system that will lead to the definition of the plan for the commercialisation of PISTE.
Milestone 1 [month 9]: Functional specification and design of initial PISTE prototype and market analysis
Milestone 2 [month 15]: Delivery of initial PISTE prototype & first draft of Exploitation plan
Milestone 3 [month 27]: Delivery of final PISTE prototype & second draft of Exploitation plan
Milestone 4 [month 30]: PISTE Technology Implementation Plan
PISTE provided the enabling technology infrastructure for the creation, broadcasting and consumption of visually enhanced, interactive sports content, thus merging applications similar to sports computer games and interactive television in a proof-of-concept prototype system. Since the project covered the complete chain for the production as well as consumption of visually enhanced interactive content in sports broadcasts, it is easier to present the achieved technical details in two groups: the infrastructure for broadcasters who wish to produce this new type of interactive sports content (sender side) and the equipment necessary to consume this new type of content (receiver side).
On the sender side the major developments included
- the completion of a workflow scheduling and monitoring tool,
- the completion of an authoring tool for the online processing of data,
- a complete set of software packages for capturing footages, digitisation and accessing of arbitrary fields or frames within a footage,
- the creation of 2D and 3D template editors pre-customizing the content to be transmitted at various levels,
- the dynamic generation of MPEG-4 content based on the results of processing,
- a transmission component for re-multiplexing MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 content for transmission over existing DVB satellite infrastructure, and finally
- investigation and trial implementation of publishing of interactive content in the Internet.
On the receiver side the major developments included:
- the extraction of metadata and their interpretation for filtering purposes based on an MPEG-7 schema
- the handling of user and group profiles on the set-top-box
- the on-demand storage of incoming clips,
- the redesign and implementation of a new user interface for the set-top-box
- the playback of MPEG-4 clips both in real-time and replay-clip modes
- the interaction of the user with the MPEG-4 content
- the mixing of MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 display on the screen of the viewer.
The results of the project lead to:
- Costs of production: PISTE’s solution comprises of a low-cost system that eliminates the costs for additional expensive equipment, such as sensors, depth measurements etc.
- Appealing Application Scenarios for interactive Sports Television: PISTE implemented a set of scenarios that aimed at presenting the possibilities of the new suggested platform; additionally it introduced suggestions for possible future scenarios that can be implemented with minor additional effort. The Internet solution introduces already a very challenging application scenario. - System scalability: The outcome of the project as far as the infrastructure for broadcasters (which was definitely the focus of the project in terms of human resources allocated and spent) is definitely a highly scalable system; as far as the receiver equipment (MPEG-4 enabled interactive set-top-box) is concerned, suggestions about possible scalability options and graceful degradation techniques have been made in the corresponding technical reports, presented in full detail in the final report of the project.
- Good use of the Core Technology (MPEG-4): The PISTE solution is based on a set of innovative technologies, having MPEG-4 in its core. Thanks to the use of the IMPACT MPEG-4 Player of partner France Telecom, the use of very advanced MPEG-4 profiles was possible.
- Marketing and Exploitation of the system: The exploitation of subsystems of PISTE has already begun. The exploitation of larger parts of the system is well planned (see other sections of the eTIP).
- Co-Existence with established or emerging standards: PISTE has created a system that is based on open standards. The core of the system is MPEG-4, all metadata related descriptions are based on MPEG-7, the transmission takes place over existing DVB-MPEG-2 infrastructures. The consortium contributed to various standardization bodies (MPEG, TV Anytime, Web3D) based on the experiences gained within the project, the co-existence with MHP was addressed and presented in the final technical report.
- Usability: The PISTE consortium developed solutions both on the server side and the STB emulator that are fully compliant with software ergonomics principles; it cooperated with other European Research Activities in the realm of usability (VNET5) to obtain external evaluation of the usability issues; additionally user workshops were organized to get feedback from potential users; a style-guide for interactive TV applications was introduced and presented as a technical report.
- Real-time character of the processing tools: The PISTE solution aimed at real-time or near-real-time solutions. This was achieved for the 2D enhancements. The processing time for the 3D enhancements is still not close to real-time, but indications about how to reduce the processing overhead were made.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
Glasnevin, Dublin 9
75505 Paris 15
15342 Aghia Paraskevi / Athens
92100 Boulogne Billancourt
74100 Rethymnon, Crete