My 10-day European excursion ended a week ago Monday (following another horrendous experience with United Airlines), with visits for three days each to the International Broadcasting Conference 2014 in Amsterdam; Messe Frankfurt’s Automechanika 2014 in Frankfurt; and to one of the world’s largest (and best) fixed satellite services (FSS) providers, SES, in the tiny principality between Francfe and Germany, called Luxembourg.
The visits to IBC and SES were traditional ones, focused on media and telecom. Yet, as the world of mobility radically changes and gets much more complicated, so, too, does my itinerary expand, with visits to places where video and data signals to all vehicles globally is becoming a regular, and core, message.
IBC 2014, The RAI, Amsterdam, Netherlands
My focus this year was on the user interface (UI) and recommendation engines, such as Rovi, Pace, and TiVo. The EchoStar security entrée, titled Sage, was most interesting, as well.
Rovi offers up some remarkable UI demonstrations, with a bright new emphasis on the recommendation side of the “help the consumer find the content” world. In the past, this has been an area of concern for these type of companies, because consumers have been difficult to educate when it comes to helping them find desirable content. Highlights included:
- A booth demo exhibited a Rovi software and guide UI that presents a consistent, yet device-specific image across five common devices, i.e., TV, STB, laptop, table and phone, deemed to be of great value for the service provider.
- Recommendation-wise, Rovi claims a new intelligent profile-based search capacity, whereby the set-top computer function acts to understand individual viewing habits and “leverages implicit and explicit habits,” also favoring information gained from social media networks.
- A voice command allows viewers to speak to a device directly, in a conversational (and often colloquial) way, using a viewer’s “natural” language and commands.
TiVo had several IBC 2014 announcements, which included:
- Semiconductor/chipmaker Broadcom will supply TiVo hardware to enable Ultra High Definition (HD) content on TiVo set-top boxes.
- Spain’s largest cable operator, ONO, expanded its pre-existing TiVo capabilities in the areas of new TV Everywhere, mobile, search, browse, and discovery features, by leveraging TiVo's cloud service. This was said to greatly enhance viewers’ experiences on multiple screens.
Pace’s booth offered a partnership with Ottawa-based Youi.TV including:
- A 4K UI demo built on the You.i software, pre-integrated with Pace middleware.
- The UI offers a remarkably fast and seamless function, capable, they say, of steady and quality application across every imaginable device and platform.
- A marked enhancement in the UI change process, which especially benefits software “artists,” as they constantly operate to change and improve the UI’s viewer functionality.
EchoStar, in the form of its soon-to-be-announced-big-in-the-U.S. product, titled Sage, was eager to show off how Sage adds to the security and control (talking heating/cooling) efficiencies of your average U.S. household, via:
- A customer-installed, TV-centric, wireless, custom-designed service controlling thermostats, security cameras, sensors, locks, lights, doorbells and switches.
- A simple UI, and specialized applications, such as an automatic alert that notifies both parents, and shows live video, when their children arrive home safely.
- Roll-out in the U.S. (in certain territories), beginning in 2015.
The IBC Show
Incidentally, like many shows of decades-long experience, IBC shows signs of getting a bit long in the execution phase. That is to say, I (and others I talked to) experienced too many examples of IBC management people getting quite quick to a “no, we can’t do that;” instead of responding first with a “yes, let’s try.” That kind of attitude has been a longer-term death knell of many a similar trade show event.
So, with all due respect, IBC, you can do better.
Automechanika 2014, Messe Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany
Since late last year, The Carmel Group has been working alongside the Atlanta, GA-based U.S. subsidiary of the world’s largest conference organizer, Frankfurt, Germany-based Messe Frankfurt.
Messe Frankfurt USA’s and The Carmel Group’s goal is to put on a stellar, almost three-day eMobility and iMobility event, called Connected Mobility 2015: The Future of Transportation, October 26-29, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley.
As conference chairman, I have been responsible for naming, locating, organizing, populating, and otherwise arranging and implementing an opening night tour at the brand new $1.4 bil. San Francisco 49ers football stadium, followed by a barbeque welcome reception.
Day One of the actual conference sessions focuses on eMobility (e.g., items such as energy savings and efficiency, Tesla’s and others’ electrical cars…most of the “e’s”); Day Two focuses on iMobility (e.g., Internet-connected vehicles, municipalities’ and property-owners’ infrastructure, interconnectivity, and most of the “I’s”…which is where cable operators will most likely play in the future). Thursday, October 29, includes a press conference and vehicle and aftermarket product demonstrations at Monterey, CA’s world famous Laguna Seca racetrack, returning to San Jose by midday.
The three days at Automechanicka 2014 this year included introductory speeches, two all day booth representations, and a final day meeting with Messe Frankfurt’s global head, Director/CEO, Detlef Braun (who pledged his full support and involvement).
All said at this juncture in the almost two-year planning process, Silicon Valley will benefit from a world-class conference about The Future of Transportation in late fall 2015, which also involves the full support of (and a possible keynote from) Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. The logo and letter (at left) comes directly via Kish Rajan, Director of the California Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Other possible keynoters include Dish Network’s Charlie Ergen, Tesla and SpaceX’s Elon Musk, and GM’s CEO Mary Barra, and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Secretary, Anthony Foxx.
The website for Connect Mobility 2015: The Future of Transportation can be found here.
SES, At The Chateau
SES headquarters in Luxembourg has to be one of the better environments in the world to house a corporate HQ. The core administrative building is a quite large refurbished country home, located squarely in the country, amid farms and a large forest of 10- to 30-meter fir trees, as well as a couple dozen satellite dishes of the same diameter.
Having dealt with the world of satellites and its distributors for the past several decades, I can state firmly and clearly that SES has one of the best, if not the best, management teams in the business. The company leads not only in traditional distribution areas, but in “new media” deployment, as well.
But one key example of that lead is its jump into the Business-To-Business (B2B) world of underserved nations in locales such as Africa, in the form of its controlling stake in the company O3B (the acronym standing for the “Other 3 Billion” of the world’s population, that is underserved by telecom).
This leadership commitment was supported once more during my meetings, when I mentioned the topic of future signals to the mobile world, and my just-completed visit to Automechanika 2014 (above) in Frankfurt, Germany.
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Jimmy Schaeffler is chairman and CSO of The Carmel Group, a nearly three-decades-old west coast-based telecom and entertainment consultancy founded in 1995.