iNEM4U

Interactive Networked Experiences in Multimedia for You

The project iNEM4U (Interactive Networked Experiences in Multimedia for You) is developing a service infrastructure that facilitates integrated multimedia experiences for groups of people. iNEM4U experiences are integrated because they involve multimedia content and value-added services from different providers in different domains of technology, in particular “Web 2.0” providers (Internet domain), end-users (consumer electronics domain), mobile operators (telecoms domain), and IPTV providers (broadcasting domain). By combining the best features of these technology domains, iNEM4U facilitates much richer multimedia experiences than today, for instance in terms of the level of interactivity, ease of use, and availability of community aspects. The iNEM4U service infrastructure consists of a set of enablers that allow multimedia content and value-added services from different parties to be integrated and provide new business opportunities.

Problem

Today’s multimedia services are predominantly IP-based, yet many of them fail to interoperate because they rely on different technologies at the service level (e.g., different protocols, user identities, or metadata formats). Examples are managed IPTV services (based on RTSP and IGMPv2), mobile telecommunications services (based on IMS), in-home multimedia services for consumer electronics (e.g., based on DLNA/UPnP), and “Web 2.0” multimedia services (e,g., based on HTTP or peer-to-peer technologies).

The result of this lack of interoperability is that multimedia services are organized in a vertical way and are part of separate “technology domains”, as illustrated in Figure 1. This fragmented situation limits the multimedia experience of end-users in several ways. For example,

Users cannot engage with multimedia whenever and wherever they want because content and services are often bound to specific devices or networks. One of the consequences is that TV viewers cannot watch an IPTV stream on a mobile device using just their IPTV subscription;

Services and content from different technology domains cannot be synchronized. For example, it is not possible to watch a show on television (IPTV domain) and at the same time receive additional information about the show via the Web in a synchronized manner;

Rich forms of personal interaction are restricted to services and communities in the PC domain; and

Communities are bound to specific technology domains (usually the Web domain or the mobile domain), but are not integrated.

Goal

The goal of iNEM4U is to overcome the above problems by means of an open service infrastructure that enables applications to seamlessly combine multimedia content and value-added services from different providers in different technology domains into one integrated multimedia experience (cf. Figure 1). These experiences will be much richer than today’s multimedia experiences because applications have a much wider range of media and services at their disposal and can mix and match them in a way that best fits their purpose. The iNEM4U service infrastructure enables applications to mix content and services from “Web 2.0” providers (Internet domain), end-users (consumer electronics domain), mobile operators (telecoms domain), and IPTV providers (broadcasting domain). An example is an application that combines high quality content from the world of IPTV with community and interactivity services from the Web.

iNEM4U focuses on multimedia experiences in which groups of people consume, share, and interact with multimedia content and also communicate with each other about that content (e.g., a group of people interested in wild-life documentaries). While such experiences are typically very personal, the integrated nature of iNEM4U experiences may ultimately lead to people at remote locations actually sharing a similar experience. This will for instance increase the feeling of “connectedness” with other people or the perception of “involvement” in a particular shared experience, which are crucial factors in many application areas (e.g., in entertainment).

The other goal of iNEM4U is to investigate the business implications of having a cross-domain service infrastructure, which for instance makes it easer for players in one technology domain to make their content and services available to consumers in another technology domain.

Results

The main result of iNEM4U is the cross-domain service infrastructure, which consists of a number of service enablers. The iNEM4U enablers are software components that provide cross-domain support functions through well-defined interfaces and enable applications to provide integrated multimedia experiences. The iNEM4U service enablers make use of existing domain-specific services and leverage existing standards and technologies in these domains. The service enablers can be used by developers to easily build interactive cross-domain applications, but can also be offered as services by service providers. Table 1 provides an overview of the iNEM4U enablers. The project will prototype the enablers and will also build an attractive application that illustrates their use.

Another major result of the project consists of a few “blueprints” of viable business models for integrated multimedia experiences. The prime reason for carrying out this type of work is that the iNEM4U service infrastructure will make it possible to build new value networks and offer new types of multimedia services. The stakeholders in an iNEM4U value network may be new ones but can also be existing service providers that make their services and content available for integration in other service offerings. For example, a telecom operator could make its IMS-based billing services available to third party service providers on the Web so that they can bill their customers through their phone bill. Similarly, a new entrant could combine an IMS presence service, professional content from an IPTV operator, and user-generated content from the Web into a single new service. Besides new multimedia services, the new value networks may also result in also revenue streams across or shared between domains, which in turn may enable domain-specific stakeholders to extend their reach into new markets (technology domains). This work will take existing domain-specific and cross-domain business models into account.