While consumers’ appetites for video – whether it’s video clips on YouTube or on-demand services – seems to be insatiable, there’s also an increased risk of piracy taking place.

In order to confront piracy issues head on, Thomson unveiled its NexGuard forensic marking solution for set-top boxes last week. A streamlined open architecture solution, the NexGuard video watermarking technology works with standard and next generation compression codecs including MPEG-2, MPEG-4 AVC (H.264) and VC-1. The technology has also been adapted to watermark Internet files, and Thomson has a system in the works that is capable of watermarking content produced with Windows Media Video 9 codecs.

NexGuard has been integrated into the STx7100 family of System-on-Chips (SoCs), which are made by semiconductor supplier STMicroelectronics. It will be available to all set-top box companies, conditional access system (CAS) vendors, and VOD and push-VOD operators by this summer.

Thomson’s Technology division is currently in negotiations with two unnamed conditional access vendors, and once those agreements are in place, the set-top manufacturers impacted by the negotiations will become public.

"Content owners need more tools than ever to reap financial rewards from their premium products," said Jean-Luc Moullet, VP of the Software & Technology Solutions business unit, part of Thomson’s Technology division, in a prepared statement. "STMicroelectronics’ chip with the added NexGuard technology will provide studios and operators with a powerful deterrent against illicit redistribution."

NexGuard works with all forms of broadcast content, including IPTV, satellite, cable or traditional broadcast and viewed with digital set-tops. It is also has a tool that supports next generation compression in any digital set-top without an extra preprocessing operation because all processing is performed within the set-top.

Its watermarking technology embeds unique identification information into the set-top video stream upon play-out that specifies the operator distributing the content as well as the individual set-top serial number. NexGuard’s detection and recovery system extracts this information from illicitly redistributed materials to pinpoint the source of the leak.

The tool individually watermarks all forms of content viewed through live broadcast, VOD, push-VOD, PVRs, and the forensic mark is present on all set-top video outputs.

Thomson will be demonstrating the solution at The Cable Show in May in Las Vegas. – Mike Robuck

The Daily

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