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You may have heard those three letters thrown around with a few variations here and there; RDK, RDK-V, RDK-B and so on. But has anyone actually stopped to explain what those are? Or is there a general consensus that it’s simply the best kept secret in software innovation?

RDK can be such a daunting subject matter, with so many different technical terms and abbreviations that it quickly becomes overwhelming for someone just starting to dip their toes in. So where do you go to learn the basics?

Well, right here…

The gist

‘RDK’ stands for Reference Design Kit and quite simply put, it’s a piece of software that enables pay TV operators to develop and launch new, user-friendly services for video streaming, broadband and hybrid services. RDK provides the building blocks to companies looking to create apps and software that enhance their customer’s experience whilst using their product and cuts out the hard work of each Pay TV company coding such complex software. It also means that those companies who use the code share the same base for their services.

For example, companies who have used the RDK software can build upon it to create a family of devices. With these you can watch live TV, or choose to watch streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+ and Prime Video.

RDK is the software they would have used to build upon and create such an in-depth service. With this coding, operators can…

  • Quickly develop and release new internet video viewing apps
  • Support brand new technology such as voice control and recognition, and algorithm compilation of user preferences
  • Make use of user behaviour data safely and securely

There are a few different types of RDK software that can be used for different things. So, let’s dive into a few of those…

RDK-v/b/c – What do they mean?

When you first look into RDK, there are enough abbreviations to send you into a tailspin. But simplified and explained, they’re not too difficult to wrap your head around.

The ‘V’ in RDK-V simply stands for video. RDK-V is specific software geared towards streaming services, video services (YouTube), and connected media devices, such as your set-top box, Amazon Fire stick or game consoles. It is specific to these services and enables companies to build upon with apps and complete customisation to create a final product.

The ‘B’ in RDK-B stands for broadband and refers to the coding for next-generation broadband products and services from broadband providers. RDK-B is integrated into broadband devices to give the user so much more freedom in managing their Wi-Fi experience, with features such as instant diagnostic help, restricting online content and managing devices on the network.

The ‘C’ in RDK-C stands for camera. This is one of the newest forms of RDK, and is being integrated into at home security cameras with apps to control the online management of these cameras no matter where you are, but also interestingly is being developed to create an at-home viewing experience of events and shows – potentially even live. Smaller cameras will be planted around sporting events, concerts and potentially theatre shows, with virtual reality headsets giving the viewer the feeling of being at the event themselves. This is still in the development stage, but is an exciting future prospect for RDK techs and Pay TV companies.

The future – RDK-4

In late 2020, it was unveiled that RDK-4 (yes, another branch of RDK software!) was set to be put to use very soon, which excited anyone and everyone in the field. But what is RDK-4?

Briefly put, this next generation platform is a faster, easier and more customisable variant of RDK-V. This new development will be able to quickly move us to a universal SMART viewership experience across the world. With the combination of Firebolt, Lightning Application and Thunder Modular, operators can create new apps and with much more flexibility in much faster timeframes.

For more information on RDK-4 and the components,  Click Here.

The rise in demand for RDK has sky-rocketed in recent years, particularly since the pandemic struck in early 2020. With people stuck in their homes in need of easier, stress-free ways to view content, browse and control their home networks, we saw a surge of interest, investment and demand. The development of this particular technology has been so incredibly rapid, that just in 2020 the industry saw an increase of 60 million devices using RDK-based software across the globe – a 20% increase on 2019.

If you would like to engage with or learn more about the RDK platforms, please contact me at Jamie.walker@paratuspeople.com

The RDK Unplugged Team

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