VP1 Interactive TV System Advances At ATSC

An ATSC 3.0 working group has recommended Verance Corp.'s VP1 technology be incorporated into the final standard to permit personalized audio and video, on-screen interactivity, dynamic advertising and viewer measurement, Verance said today.


Verance Corp., a San Diego-based entertainment technology developer specializing in digital content management and watermarking, said today its VP1 open architecture system for automatic content recognition (ACR) on television has been recommended to be a part of the ATSC 3.0 next-gen DTV standard.

ATSC President Mark Richer said the decision to recommend the Verance watermarking technology is “preliminary,” pending the normal ATSC standardization process.

VP1 works by using an inaudible audio watermark that passes through the video distribution path of an MPVD (multichannel video programming distributor) and can be recovered from content within seconds, the company said.

Future ATSC 3.0 television sets and other receivers, such as set-top boxes, connected to the Internet will recognize this inaudible watermarking audio tone and establish an Internet connection with a broadcaster’s server to receive frame-accurate supplemental data.

“One of the important things the industry is doing in response to connected television sets is to enable browser-type overlays with HTML 5 that sit on top of the audio and video programming that you are receiving,” said Verance CTO Joe Winograd.

“That HTML 5 script application can communicate with a broadcaster’s server over a broadband connection that all of the TVs now have and access all kinds of new features, including personalization, interactivity, dynamic targeted ad features and measurement.”


Rather than relying on a cable TV company or other MPVD to agree to carry all of the information need to support these new services, the Varance VP1 audio watermark allows broadcasters to sidestep the issue by using the Internet as a backchannel to carry the needed data.

For over-the-air TV viewers, these types of features are delivered via the over-the-air broadcast service with signaling data that accompanies the main video, audio, closed captions and SAP programming, he said.

Those OTA viewers whose TVs aren’t connected to the Internet may have fewer interactive choices. The extent to which an over-the-air viewer without a connected TV will have additional services available will in large part be determined by how much bandwidth the broadcaster chooses to allocate to carrying them.

But despite not having a backchannel, Winograd said it would be possible for creative programmers to write interactive HTML 5 scripts that could, for example, allow viewers without interactivity to play along with a game show via their remote controls.

Before becoming an official part of the ATSC 3.0 standard, VP1 faces additional approval steps. “Our Specialist Group on Management and Protocols (TG3/S33) has made a preliminary decision to select the audio watermark technology proposed by Verance and the video watermark technology proposed by Sony for incorporation in ATSC 3.0,” said Richer, who responded to questions regarding Verance this morning via email.

“Selection of all technologies is subject to approval of the parent Technology Group and ultimately the voting membership in accordance with ATSC due process,” Richer said in the email.

Verance will be at the NAB Show in booth N5738.

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