IVOD — it sounds like the latest homemade Russian vodka brew but, in fact, stands for interactive video on demand — is finally here in a deliverable form, according to Concurrent Computer.
E Courtney Siegel, president and CEO of Concurrent, was in Auckland recently to launch the MediaHawk video server product line.
Siegel says the hospitality and tourism industries will be the biggest markets, with strong demand expected to come from in-flight entertainment and in-room services in hotels. Siegel says although there are already in-house video channels for people in hotels, they are not interactive.
“You can’t pause the video to answer the phone, you can’t rewind and you can’t watch it when you want — you have to tune in at the time it is being shown on the hotel system. With IVOD everyone can watch the same movie at different points from the same memory space.”
Siegel says research in the US has shown that pizza deliveries and adult movies are the most popular in-room services. “And, although I’m trying to keep this at a high level of conversation, research also found the average viewing time to be 12 minutes.” Hopefully the pizza lasted a bit longer for hotel guests.
Siegel doesn’t see DVD being much competition for video server services cabled to consumers’ houses.
“I don’t think it [widespread DVD use] will ever happen. People will download videos from a source to their house.”
Siegel says video servers can be hooked up to houses by means of a signal sent over a phone line and decoded by a set-top box or through cable or satellite.
Siegel says IVOD can also be used in kiosks, dialled into from laptops, used by plane passengers in their seats or patients in their hospital beds, used for training such as flight simulators and connect to a LAN or WAN over an ATM or ethernet network.
Siegel says Concurrent sells the server hardware (which includes pre-loaded video on demand software) in one package and it is up to content providers and third-party suppliers to digitise the information and provide set top boxes if necessary. Concurrent’s South Pacific region managing director, Wally Cook, says Concurrent is talking to a number of potential telecommunications providers such as Telstra in Australia and Telecom and Clear in New Zealand.
The basic low-end MediaHawk model is a desktop minitower with a Motorola PowerPC CPU (although Siegel says there is no reason it can’t run on an Intel chip) and runs up to 50 digital video streams. The processors in all the models are scaleable and modules can be added together to support up to 1000 digital video streams in the high end products.
Pricing for New Zealand and Australia has not yet been set.