IFA 2012: Even smarter TV?
04 September 2012
Visitors to IFA 2012 had the opportunity to learn about a new development in broadcasting that has the potential to save a channel's broadcaster a lot of money. Viewers enjoying an evening of TV wouldn't even notice - it would rely on something clever happening in the background. It’s called “dynamic broadcasting”. It was demonstrated for the first time last weekend by Braunschweig University at the annual consumer electronics fair in Berlin, the IFA .
The idea is to deliver the scheduled programmes not simply by broadcasting, but by a combination of broadcasting and broadband, drawing on a hard disk in the smart TV. When there are only a few viewers watching, the programmes are delivered by broadband (your home Wi-Fi with a top-up signal). When the programme is not live, it can be downloaded to your hard disk before the advertised 'transmission’ time. When the programme is live and has many viewers, it's broadcast. The broadcaster controls what is happening all the time – at the transmitter and in the smart TV.
All this means that the transmitter powers on average can be very much lower than with conventional broadcasting. Proponents of the system say it should add little or no extra cost to the viewer because it is part of the smart TV which he would buy anyway. “It’s an imaginative system, and shows that broadcasters can devise innovative ways to use spectrum more efficiently.” said EBU’s head of Media Delivery and Services, Peter MacAvock. “We’ve been discussing this with Braunschweig University, where it was developed, for some time.”
There is much pressure on broadcasters to use spectrum more efficiently. This new approach would do so. But it would require consumer electronics manufacturers to make these next generation smart TVs, and for the public to buy them.