Advanced Audio/Video Content Management

In close cooperation with industrial partners the competence centre for “Smart Environments” has designed and implemented an innovative content management system for AV content in the home environment and a corresponding demonstrator application.

The common problem with content today is that there is a large amount of it and it is always difficult to find what the users want. This problem will get even worse in the near future when devices such as PVRs provide storage capacities measured in terabytes. The more storage available, the more data the user will store, and the more difficult it will be to find a particular item. Today home users store mainly songs and pictures but in the near future they will also have a large collection of digital videos in addition. Finding a piece of content depends on identifying the specific item, which means that the item has to be categorized.

Metadata may come from different sources. This does not only include 3rd party service providers like the Internet Movie DB, but also the user himself who wants to add his own metadata to third party content (e.g. rating, comments) and who also wants to categorize his home-grown content (mainly videos and pictures). These different types of metadata have to be presented to the end-user in a coherent way to allow for intelligent filtering mechanisms base don user preferences.

Based on an in-depth study of existing metadata formats in the areas of audio, videos and images, as well as metadata formats for composite media objects, FOKUS has defined a metadata structure which is able to fulfil the needs of home users.

On top of this structure, an architecture to handle these metadata was defined as well as APIs implemented to store, access and manipulate them.

Some highlights of the systems:

  • Context-sensitive search based on individual metadata (e.g. all movies with the same actor)
  • Global search across content types (e.g. all music and videos by/with Madonna)
  • In-built user and group handling (e.g. parental control, manageable on an item-by-item or on larger selection base)
  • Extensibility of metadata definitions
  • Metadata collection from different sources (e.g. DVB-SI, EPG, IMDB)
  • Handling of TV series
  • Segmentation of movies

Demonstrator applications and content import tools have been implemented as TV-style applications, using “remote control” navigation to test and prove the suitability of the system in a non-PC based environment.

To further enhance the functionality towards home networking, a UPnP AV layer was defined and implemented which enables of the shelf UPnP AV clients to access the system through standardized means. Since the UPnP AV protocol is the upcoming communication standard for networked home entertainment systems, the integration of UPnP into the media management system is a logical step to provide a future oriented system. This somewhat cuts back the full capabilities of the system because UPnP does not yet support all the necessary metadata, but UPnP standardization is still ongoing and some of the features implemented at FOKUS are on the future UPnP charter.