RDK Revisited: Use Cases


One of the questions swirling around the topic of RDK — the Reference Design Kit — is what it means, beyond getting to market more quickly with hardware and cloud-based services.

This was perhaps best phrased by reader John, who sent this email query last week: “RDK, service velocity, got it. Have you any more consumer-facing angles, so that I can pitch this to my management for budget? And win?”

Well, John. Far be it from us to separate a man from a budget. And, as luck would have it, that RDK session at the TV of Tomorrow Conference earlier this year, the audio of which is finally up on iTunes, highlighted three use cases that may inform your mission.

First: RDK as a way to enable better, faster graphics, by making it easier for people within the RDK community to “see” and use each other’s advancements. Take chip providers, for example. They build out product road maps just like anyone else. For them, a feature advancement such as “hardware acceleration” makes graphics more crisp and swift.

The example shown at TVOT was Espial’s HTML5-based navigation of TV on a tablet. Two things made it visually an ooh-ahh: The crispness of the graphics, and how quickly one could scroll through titles (with cover art).

What made that possible was the use of RDK components that exposed ways for developers, like Espial, to reach directly down to exposed “hooks” in the chip. Before RDK, a developer up top couldn’t directly get to a feature set in a chip.

Two: RDK as a way to port apps developed for mobile to TV. Ericsson was the example on this one, with a sports app it had originally developed for mobile devices. Using RDK, they were able to port it to TV in two weeks. For that app to be ported to existing, non-RDK set-tops, they would’ve needed Java developers to learn the class libraries that are part of OCAP (Open Cable Applications Platform). Learning curve: Steep.

Third example: Porting services like Twitter to TV, with built-in channel-change capabilities. Symphony Teleca (or “ST”) was the demo darling for this one, showing a way for the viewer to enter the hashtag of the show of interest, then see all tweets related to that show spill across the screen, live.

“It’s a great example of how a developer was able to tap into something that already exists, like the Twitter RSS, and bring that into a TV environment — without having to know anything specific about the set-top box,” Steve Reynolds, senior vice president of premises technologies for Comcast, who narrated the three use cases at TVOT, said.

The hashtags can also be used to change channels, which sounds easier than it really is. “It sounds obvious, but it’s not easy,” Reynolds noted. “ It’s one of those problems that we had to solve for over and over again.”

John, hope that helps. May the budget forces be with you.

Stumped by gibberish? Visit Leslie Ellis at translation-please.comor multichannel.com/blog.