HBB4ALL boosts European Connected TV
Industry grouping the HBB4All consortium has announced the start of the European project HBB4ALL (Hybrid Broadcast Broadband for All). The project addresses media accessibility for all citizens in the connected TV environment.
HbbTV (Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV) is a European standard increasingly adopted by European broadcasters. According to the consortium, one of the challenges in the coming years will be the delivery of multi-platform audiovisual content (anytime, anywhere, any device) and making this content accessible for all. It says the elderly and people with various disabilities rely on subtitles, audiodescription or sign language. Customising accessibility services through options for personal preferences is only one example of future possibilities.
HBB4ALL is co-funded by the European Commission under the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP). The project started in December 2013 and runs for 36 months. The official kick-off meeting was hosted in Barcelona (13/14 January 2014) by HBB4ALL coordinator UAB (Universitat Autaunoma de Barcelona, Spain).
Among the project’s main objectives:
- Advancing future-proof solutions for improved accessibility to media, both utilising and supporting the successful uptake of HbbTV throughout Europe;
- Introducing and large scale user testing of such innovative services in at least three European countries;
- Introducing and expert testing of novel workflows for the production of accessibility services at European broadcasters;
- Understanding interoperability in a multi-platform and multilingual environment to test easy solutions for media accessibility;
- Benchmarking quality of access services from a user-centric approach and promoting accessibility as an added value for education and social inclusion;
- Becoming a major platform/player in the e-Inclusion economy currently taking place, fostering the future market take-up of exciting innovations in conceiving universal accessibility tools and concepts to satisfy the diverse interests of all societal groups.
The project will examine the delivery of TV content to PC, tablet, smartphone and TVs with an array of communication solutions such as subtitling, audio description, clean audio, and many customisable features. Multiple EU languages, large and small, sign language, and language situation – monolingual, bilingual – will be taken into consideration as well as the three translation modes: dubbing, subtitling, and voice-over.
The consortium includes 12 European partners, two of which are academic institutions, four broadcasters, two research institutes and four SMEs, all experts in the field of media accessibility.
- 2 Academic Institutions: UAB and UPM
UAB: The HBB4ALL project coordinator Universitat Autaunoma de Barcelona (UAB) plays a leading role in scientific research in Spain. It was selected in the top five universities to reach the label of Campus of International Excellence from the Spanish government.
UPM: Universidad Politecnica de Madrid (UPM), Spain’s oldest and largest technical university, has participated in more than 130 European R&D projects over the past four years.
- 4 Public Broadcasters: RBB, RTP, TVC, SWISS TXT
RBB is the public broadcaster for the federal states of Berlin and Brandenburg and part of the ARD (Association of Public Service Broadcasting Corporations) in Germany. It produces and broadcasts one television channel and six radio stations and provides interactive services including websites, mobile, teletext and HbbTV-based connected TV services.
RTP is the Portuguese public radio and television broadcaster, the oldest and largest media enterprise in Portugal. HbbTV services are operational on an experimental basis.
TVC is a Spanish Catalan public broadcaster with long standing experience both in research projects (DTV4ALL, TV-RING) and industrial applications in digital DVB-T broadcasting, interactive online applications, IPTV HbbTV applications (of which TV-RING is a prime example), mobile apps, subtitle management, generation, broadcasting and online publishing.
SWISS TXT is a company of the public broadcaster SRG/SSR in Switzerland and provides a vast variety of services to the broadcaster and other third party customers.
- 2 Research Institutes: IRT and VICOMTECH
IRT is the specialised non-profit broadcast and multimedia technology institute (founded in 1956,) company, IRT jointly owned by the German speaking Public Service Broadcasters of Germany, Austria and Switzerland (ARD, ZDF, DRadio, ORF and SRG/SSR
Vicomtech (VIC) is an applied research centre for Interactive Computer Graphics and Multimedia located in San Sebastian (Spain). It is a non-profit association, founded in 2001 as a joint venture by the INI-GraphicsNet Foundation and the EiTB Broadcasting Group. The role of VIC in the market is to supply the society with technology by transfer of primary research to industry.
- 4 SMEs: VSONIX, SCREEN, PPG and HC
Vsonix was founded in 2007 by a team of senior researchers of Fraunhofer IGD (Germany), one of the biggest research institutions for applied visual computing world-wide.
Screen Subtitling Systems, based in the UK, started life back in 1976 as Screen Electronics and pioneered and launched the first ever electronic subtitling system, providing the first digital character generator to the BBC.
People’s Playground (PPG) is based in Amsterdam (Netherlands, NL) and was founded in 2010, on firm background experience in web software development, i.e. video/media streaming and backend technology.
Holken Consultants & Partners (France) is specialising in b-to-b market research and strategic & marketing oriented business consulting, operate in connected creative, cultural and media industries and IT markets.