As I prowled the halls of IBC this year, I saw many things some of which impressed me. Here are four of my favorites I feel are worthy of special attention, plus an update on a 2014 pick.
Building deep learning abilities into apps
Artificial Intelligence was a big theme at the show, and IBM continued to press its bid for market leader status. However, one of the drawbacks of Watson in the cloud is that once integrated into an application a user must pay each time they use it.
Dimensional Mechanics (DM) wants to change that. I spoke with Rajeev Dutt, Founder, and CEO of the company. DM sells the Neopulse Framework which Mr. Dutt described as making AI simple. He says it also dramatically reduces the amount of software code that needs to be written to create deep learning solutions.
Neopulse is like a software SDK for AI. Using just a few lines of code a programmer can produce a portable inference model (PIM) and include it with a video app. This PIM can do sophisticated video analysis allowing it to automatically identify pornography in a movie, even if the pornography is a video playing on television in a scene from the movie.
A vision of the future of home entertainment
Every aspect of the home entertainment experience continues to command the attention of the most innovative companies in the world. With this continuous upgrade cycle, it is very difficult to get a clear vision of where the home experience might be going. At the Nokia booth, the company was showing its Any Vision demonstration of home entertainment ten years from now.
The demonstration took place in simulated round living room with windows on all sides looking out on a woodland glade. Any window could become a screen in an instant. Moreover, all the windows/screens could be linked together to give a full 360-degree immersive experience. Interestingly, the demonstration was controlled by gesture, not by voice. I expect by 2027 we will be using both to control a whole range of products in our home.
It is hard to describe how appealing this demo was, although you can get a hint by watching the promotional video. If you get the opportunity, I highly recommend seeing Any Vision.
Retargeting for dummies
One of the big themes at IBC 2017 was building a profitable online video business. One of the biggest challenges in doing that is dealing with the binge-and-bolt phenomenon (as is discussed in the free white paper Finders-Keepers.) Diagnal provides a tool that could help stop those customers leaving and win them back when if they do.
I spoke with Reuben Verghese, CEO, and Rahul Krishnan, CTO, of Diagnal and they showed me their new retargeting product called Engage. This SaaS tool can be used to deliver campaigns over social networks, email, SMS, and via referral marketing. The idea is to identify customers that might be thinking of leaving or have left, and target them with a campaign to win them back.
Of course, other tools provide these type of services, but Engage was so simple and intuitive to use I felt like even I could use it. It is relatively cheap too. The company charges just 5 cents per active user per month.
Sharing content one-to-one
According to Neale Foster, Managing Director & COO of ACCESS Europe, Indians have a lot of content on their mobile phones. With normal sharing solutions, the cloud is used to share photos and videos. To do so requires an upload cycle to get the media into the cloud, then any viewer needs to download or stream it to watch. The trouble with this approach is that infrastructure limitations in India make bandwidth a premium.
Wouldn’t it be better if devices could share the content directly? After all, most of the sharing takes place between family members who live in the same area. Access has a solution called Twine which does just that. It makes it seamless to migrate content between devices, without the cloud getting in the middle.
Reliance in India uses Twine in its Jio service, which has 100 million subscribers. Twine won a CSI award at IBC 2017, so clearly, I was not the only one impressed by the solution.
True surround sound from a sound bar in time for the holidays
In my 2014 review of IBC, I highlighted a tremendous demonstration of surround-sound audio Fraunhofer gave me. The solution employed speakers wrapped around the TV screen and subwoofer, and it completely enveloped me in a 3D sound experience. This year, Fraunhofer has reduced the solution to a single sound bar and subwoofer reference design. I can tell you it sounded every bit as good as the original demonstration. Robert Bleidt at Fraunhofer assures me production units from mainstream CE makers will be available for the 2017 holiday season. Alas, only European customers will be able to buy them since the underlying technology, MPEG-H, is not support in the US.