ACM - Computers in Entertainment

iTV handbook: technologies & standards

By Eddie Schwalb
Theoretical and Practical Computer Applications in Entertainment, [Vol. 2, No. 2]

DOI: 10.1145/1008213.1008241

Interactive television (iTV) is an evolutionary merging of digital TV and the internet. iTV technology offers new powerful ways for consumers to interact with content and service providers. In Europe, iTV has gained significant traction during the turn of the century. For example, about 500,000 viewers signed up for SkyDigital's email service during 2000. In another example, Nickelodeon's "Watch Your Own Week" voting application was available to SkyDigital viewers during Oct 22-27 2001. While only 100,000 votes were anticipated for the whole week, this goal was reached within two days; a total of 578,000 votes were recorded for the week. Today, Europe counts tens of millions of iTV consumers.The iTV Handbook is a broad overview of the business and technical issues, and could be used as a textbook for an introductory technical course: it lays out the current thinking on commercially viable uses of iTV, surveys the related technical standards, and describes a broad range of technologies and the relationships among them. A whole chapter is devoted to the big picture of the iTV food chain, and another key chapter is devoted to a survey of media streaming methods. A "file system in the sky" is described which is the broadcasting equivalent of the network file system, and can be used to eliminate the notorious "hot spot" encountered when millions of receivers are trying to access a small set of pages. The book provides many rare insights into the nuts and bolts of the technologies being used. For example, the book presents part of the theoretical foundation for MP3 compression, and describes in detail many popular file formats used to deliver iTV content, including GIF, QuickTime, AVI, and ZIP.

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