France, Europe, January 4, 2016 (Newswire.com) - The HBB4ALL project, which aims to develop leading applications for accessibility in the connected TV environment, has achieved two major milestones in 2015:
- The development and the improvement of a range of accessibility applications
- The launch of the user trials in Germany, Portugal and Spain
In 2016, the final year of this collaborative project, services will continue to evolve as user trials deliver results and recommendations.
1. HBB4ALL operational phase kicks off with the launch of first user trials in Germany and Spain
To meet the users’ needs, HBB4ALL partners entered the operational stage for their access services.
First user trials started in October 2015 in Germany by RBB the public broadcaster based in Berlin and Brandenburg: this operational phase is being conducted in real broadcast broadband market conditions. Over a four month period, more than 30 users will actively test customization features for subtitles in RBB’s HbbTV catch-up TV service. RBB is in contact with user associations, who provided valuable feedback about the trial questionnaires and helped recruit test candidates.
The Spanish broadcaster TVC based in Catalonia and the Portuguese broadcaster RTP will follow with user trials in their respective languages by the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016.
The user feedback is expected to improve the quality of service and its reception in various access scenarios. Trial results will be made available publicly in 2016.
2. The latest HBB4ALL applications under the spotlight at international events
In the past two years, HBB4ALL partners engaged their technical teams in collaborative work to develop access services and/or to improve several accessibility applications such as subtitling, additional audio track generation and distribution, enhanced graphical interface creation and signing for Smart TV. Concrete examples of successfully completed access services are:
- MPEG-DASH streaming combined with EBU-TT-D subtitles
- Customised subtitles for Smart TV services
- Avatar Signing application
The applications and prototypes were highly welcomed at international events like IBC 2015, IFA 2015 or BMSB 2015 IEEE International Symposium.
2.1. HbbTV 2.0 prototype showing MPEG-DASH streaming combined with EBU-TT-D subtitles
Project partners IRT and RBB in cooperation with the TV manufacturer Samsung developed a prototype service that combines live streaming using MPEG-DASH (Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP) and subtitles based on the EBU-TT-D specification. The combination of MPEG-DASH and EBU-TT-D subtitles provides a standardised solution for (live) Internet streaming and enables a common subtitle format to be used for video on demand services like catch-up TV of the broadcasters . The service demonstration was present at IFA 2015 and IBC 2015 exhibition. IRT gives further details about the prototype .
2.2. Customisable subtitles in RBB’s catch-up TV service for Smart TV
At IFA 2015, the broadcaster RBB presented a selection of its work in HBB4ALL. For the first time, videos in RBB-Mediathek, RBB’s catch-up TV service for SmartTV, were available with subtitles. The real innovation is the customization feature, users are able to personalise the subtitles by adjusting the font size and position of the subtitles on the TV screen.
2.3. Vicomtech’s innovative Avatar Signing application
HBB4ALL partner, Vicomtech developed an Avatar Signing application in Spanish Sign Language. The objective was to create a service to make audio-visual content accessible for deaf people that could be easily adapted to different domains. The application, currently optimized for weather reports, consists of five modules that essentially translate spoken language to Spanish Sign Language (LSE) and generate the on screen avatar. A major innovation is the separate processing of the avatar’s hand gestures and bodily expressions.
3. HBB4ALL activities for 2016
Four main actions, among other achievements, will highlight the project’s collaborative work in 2016, the final project year:
- Launch of further user trials and analysis of results: HBB4ALL partners will continue to roll out and trial new and improved access services based on subtitles, audio production, user interfaces and sign language as part of the operational phase. HBB4ALL will publish and share its results and recommendations with a view to improving accessibility services in the connected TV environment.
- The HBB4ALL white paper: HBB4ALL partners and its Advisory Board started the production of a major dissemination tool for awareness creation, current developments and roadmap for the future in the accessibility and connected TV environment. It targets broadcasters, manufacturers, companies, user associations, standardization bodies, policy makers, and opinion leaders.
- The Workshop in Lisbon, Portugal: the second HBB4ALL workshop will be held the on 26th February 2016 in Lisbon (Portugal) and organized by project partner RTP. This event will be an excellent occasion to catch-up with the pilots’ progress and see live demonstrations of HBB4ALL access services. The workshop program and list of demonstrations will be published on the HBB4ALL website.
- The 3rd Advisory Board meeting will be held in Geneva, Switzerland on 5th April 2016 and hosted by the EBU (European Broadcasting Union). This 3rd and final meeting will be a side event to EBU BroadThinking (6-7 April 2016).
Detailed of all trials and project news are published on the website and shared regularly via the project social media profiles:
HBB4ALL website: www.hbb4all.eu
HBB4ALL Twitter: @HBB4ALL #HBB4ALL
 Vicomtech Avatar Signing application: http://www.hbb4all.eu/publications/vicomtech-developed-the-avatar-signing-application/