By Prince Osuagwu
INNOVATION: Innovation is non-negotiable in the technology sector, particularly in Digital broadcast Television sector where we major. That is why StarTimes created this department and attach very serious importance to it.
I have been managing StarTimes R& D for two and a half years now. We are responsible for the research, technology development, product development and the patent process, in other words, the entire R&D and product development life cycle.
It is a unique opportunity for StarTimes to integrate an end-to-end solution from content production to the network to the terminal to really fully optimize the user experience, and to provide to the end users the best programme over the most cost effective network presented on the most beautiful terminal product.
StarTimes technology driving force
Our innovation is actually, strongly driven by the end user. After all, we serve consumers, not enterprises. We work very hard to understand how users would like to consume the content where and when as well as the content itself.
We want to make sure that we have the most cost effective way of delivering high quality content over any networks, satellite or terrestrial broadcast networks, or the Internet to present the content to the end user in suchquality that is worthy of our customers’ trust in us, as well as the content providers’ trust in us.
Innovative product developments: Generally, the digital television landscape has totally changed for good. Things are generally looking up, pointing at the direction R&D, is taking the technology industry to.
On our part, although the StarTimes R&D is relatively new, but we have of course come a very long way since our inception in 2013. We have completely revamped our user interface design, and industrial design. Our new PVRs and decoders are just beautiful products. As a digital TV provider, we also care a lot about video processing and video compression technologies. In both areas we have worked with our partners and are leading the cutting edge in the world. Our router products make it possible to monitor and manage your content consumption in the household. I think you can see a trend here, for the first time in our history, one can see something beautiful in this industry, not the ugly STBs and TVs you want to hide inside a cabinet!
Applications: We developed the Tenbre app. It’s a one-stop shop for you as an end-user to renew your subscription, to recharge your smart cards, to schedule your watching times, to video trailers and promotional videos, to watch live Bundesliga games for free, and to share your feedbacks and experiences in chat rooms with the StarTimes family.
There’s also the Projector TV, designed for entertainment and TV lovers who love extra large sharp screens. The projector TV enables you to have your cinema in your home and it projects about 70 inches screen size with a sharp clear definition image. With it, you do not require a decoder or a TV; the device has everything in built, DTT, DTH, External device options among other things.
In addition to projector TV, there is also an entire family of terminal products. They share many attributes; they are all very beautifully designed. The user interface design is beautiful and easy to use. We have multiple hardware products, including new decoders, PVRs, LCD and integrated TVs, our smart phones and tablets. All these were designed for the user to enjoy our content anywhere, anyway, e.g. via satellite, terrestrial broadcast, or the internet. We are also introducing our Tenbre router product, which is again a great looking product. Not only is it a great Wifi router in terms of both performance and price. It can also be used to deliver TV signal via in-house Wifi to any phone or tablet screen in the household, so you can now watch TV anywhere in the house.
Competition: Competition is always welcome because it is part of life. Everybody is struggling to be at the top of the market but innovation is what makes the difference. For instance, we are using our video encoder, to encode soccer games to 200 kbps which is available almost everywhere in the world.
Today we make it possible for you to watch soccer match on your phone without using a lot of data. This, along with our cloud based CDN technologies allow us to offer free streaming of Bundesliga to the end user, free of charge. That is innovation!
Meanwhile, our competitors still use last generation technology that requires many times the bandwidth with its attendant high cost. Besides, one can hardly get that kind of sustained bandwidth in most areas!
However, we are not going to reinvent the wheel, we are not going to work on every module in the system. We want to be the best in class from a system perspective; we work very hard to identify the key modules in the system that we can make a key difference, and focus our resources on those areas. So, video processing, content delivery, and the integration of design and technology to truly revolutionize the user experience, is key.