Terayon‘s new CherryPicker applications move the action closer to the edge for cable, telco and satellite operators, while keeping the video within the compressed MPEG-2 domain.

Terayon rolled out the Static Graphic Overlay, Motion Graphic Overlay and SqueezeBack applications on Tuesday. The new applications can be used for retaining advertisers, improving customer retention, localizing content and increasing revenue. The applications run on Terayon’s DM 6400 Network CherryPicker platform with new firmware version 5.0. CherryPickers that are already deployed can purchase the firmware, as well as a DSP Processing card that is field installable.

"We’ve talked for the last several years about targeting at the edge," said Buddy Snow, Terayon’s head of product marketing. "We’re giving the tools and products to our customers so they can create solutions whereby they can localize or customize content at the very edge of the video network, down to the ad zone level, the service group level or whatever makes sense for them.

"The big thing is we don’t have to uncompress and recompress the video, so we don’t add latency, and we don’t degrade the quality of the video. There are a lot less steps, which means there’s a lot less equipment involved, so essentially it’s a more cost-effective way for service providers create these types of solutions." Squeeze it back SqueezeBack allows a provider to scale back – horizontally, vertically or both at the same time – the video on a screen.

"The net result is that you create some black screen real estate, and then the goal there is to take either static graphic or motion graphic and put them on top of that real estate," Snow said. "This way you don’t hide original video content, whether it’s advertising or programming."

Local information such as high sports scores can be inserted on L-shaped, vertical or horizontal bars, as well as local weather and additional advertising content. Static graphics The StaticGraphic Overlay allows an operator to store static graphic files, such as tiffs or jpegs, on the CherryPicker. Based on instructions coming from the network, the CherryPicker places the static graphic file onto the MPEG-2 stream in the correct place at the right time. It can also control the transparency level of graphics such as a station’s or network’s on-screen bug to brand a channel.

"Another obvious solution would be emergency alert systems," Snow said. "There’s a lot of regulatory work around that right now, and cable operators, satellite operators and telco operators have to create that type of solution." Moving graphics The Motion Graphic Overlay solution is similar in nature to Terayon’s static solution, but like the name says, it allows providers to generate characters and backgrounds in real time.

The DSP card on a CherryPicker acts like a microprocessor on a PC. It’s a general purpose processing chip that is loaded with Terayon’s software to provision the motion graphics without affecting the quality of the video in the compressed MPEG-2 stream.

"That (DSP) card has connectors on it that allow you to connect to a character generating machine," Show explained. "A character generating machine allows a cable operator, or other service provider, to plug in a data feed to that box. In real time, the character-generating machine generates characters with graphic backgrounds that have motion. We can inject that into the CherryPicker via the DSP processing card, and it can be told things like where to run it on the screen and for how long. You could have sports or stock crawls across the bottom of the screen, or a live emergency weather warning."

Currently, the new applications from Terayon are in beta tests with six unnamed cable, satellite and telco providers, both here and abroad. Snow said that while CherryPickers today can splice MPEG-4 streams, the three new applications will be available for MPEG-4 down the road.

"We’re talking about the applications, but what we’re really focused on are the solutions, both for programming and advertising, that our customers can create from these solutions," Snow said. "When you combine these things together with the splicing capabilities of the CherryPicker, you have a very dynamic box in the network that can do value added processing to content in real time, without hurting the quality, in a very cost-effective manner."

Terayon originally developed the technology for the three new applications about a year and half ago for Fox Networks. Fox used it to brand its owned and operated sites with Fox logos during HD broadcasts. From there, the technology was migrated over to the CherryPicker. – Mike Robuck

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