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In today’s episode, Jamie sits down with Amy Cleary of DTVKit and Jason Nash of Ocean Blue Software, to discuss…

📺 The differences they noticed between RDK and Android TV
📺 How to make RDK available to smaller operators
📺 Their brand new White Label box collaboration, coming in June…

 

Episode Transcript

Jamie 0:39
Hello, and welcome to the rdk podcast. I’m your host, Jamie Walker. And today I’m introducing not one, but two fantastic guests. First, I have Amy, the operations and marketing director from DTV kit. And she’s joined also by Jason Nash, the general manager at ocean blue software. Now, I’m gonna let you guys introduce yourselves. So Amy, let’s start with you tell me what’s you and DTV could do.

Amy 1:08
And yet so, as you said, I am the marketing and Operations Director. So I’m here running day to day, supporting the members gaining new members and marketing, you know, running the events. So yeah, that’s me. DTV kit was formed in 2013. With us licencing, the source code from OBS and further developing it over time. Since the founding of DTV, kit OBS has been our main support partner do much of the in house development and providing support services to our members. And our two companies have a great synergy that’s continued over the past eight years, being able to complement each other in terms of our offering has been a real attribute to both our company’s successes, really. And so yeah, that’s me and that’s DTVKit. Great. Cheers, Amy. And Jason, how about ocean blue?

Jason 2:20
Yeah, ocean blue software. We’re a software and services company specialising in everything to do with digital TV, really. We were founded, I think back in 2004. So began for quite a few years now. We’re up to about 20 days, we’ve been quite small, quite focused on digital TV. But we’ve worked with a huge range of customers from sort of smaller entities up to the big eight brands in different areas over the years. We’ve got offices in Bristol, and also just recently actually opened an office in Athens as well, sort of extending extending our team over brought in some new competence, and specifically in the areas of sort of IP technologies, which is where digital TV is headed, and sort of ties in with an RDK as well, nicely. I think we are one of the founding members of DTVkit, and in the early days were very much responsible for sort of its day to day running. But over the years, dtv Ryan and his memberships increased, I think there’s about 20 members or so now. And we are just really just another member, we’ve got to see on the tour of the steering board. So we do have maintained some strategic input to it just like any other board member today. And as Amy said, as sort of prime responsibilities, we provide software and services to DTV get itself helping them with r&d projects, and also to the community to members, helping them with their products that are based on DTV get and bring them to market.

Jamie 3:54
Great, thank you for that introduction. So just overall really creating a really good community where everybody can combine forces generally. So it’s, it’s obvious that you two know each other quite well already. Can you tell me a little bit how DTV kit and ocean blue have worked hand in hand over the last few years then Jason

Jason 4:17
things we do a lot of projects with DTV kit and its membership, and D activities that will sort of do directly for DTV kit or in partnership with all the carriers, one of those areas where we sort of see value to the membership and so we’re self interested in like to the community and our customers. So there we’ve partnered with DTV kit to help bring its suite of software, maybe the DVB stack, get that working in an RDK environment.

Jamie 4:52
Okay, perfect. And I’m sure we’re going to touch on some basis of the projects that you’ve been working on but among the software in the plot phones that you use is obviously rdk. Amy, can you tell me what sort of projects you’ve been working on, together with ocean blue software.

Amy 5:09
From a DTV kit perspective, our main target has been to get our DVB stack integrated into the RDK platform. We did this initially on RDK three. But now we’ve moved on to having DTVkit as part of the latest RDK four release. For our members. This means that they can take the standard rdk release and use it with our current DVB stack. So a member can download the RDK release with the option to use it with DTVKit binaries. So is theirs to use essentially, it’s probably worth noting that different chipsets require different build recipes, which we are working on. So we already have Broadcom. And currently, we’re working on media tech. And then as projects develop, you know, we’ll be working with other chipset companies as well.

Jamie 6:05
Okay, so it’s obvious that you two have both had deep involvement with RDK since its inception. In your experience, Jason, how does RDK compare to something like Android TV in the market?

Jason 6:21
That’s an interesting question. I think it’s, it’s an evolving picture, shall we say? I think at a high level, they offer a lot of similar things. But as you start to get under the hood, there’s some quite important differences as well. I mean, superficially, Android TV and rdk. They both offer digital TV software and platform with an app store framework, particularly as we get to rdk for web metrological contributed the whole funding environment enable you to have download applications.

I think today, it’s fair to say that the App Store if you liked, probably not as comprehensive still say Android TV at the moment, but it’s growing sort of on a daily basis, almost most of the key ones are either there today or coming in Netflix’s he does the pluses, which is what most of the big operators and OEMs want. So he’s definitely gaining ground in that area, I think the sort of fundamental differences comes down to really sort of what you can do with the software and the control. And I think, to do the comparison, making sure you compare apples with apples, I think Android TV, you have to sort of split into actual Android TV, the Google items, the Google century bit and Android ASP as well.

So Android TV gives you lots of benefits. You have that comprehensive app store, you get lots of sort of guidance and reference, UI, and applications and launches and everything that you can take advantage of. But obviously, to take advantage of that you’ve got to be willing to sign up to Google’s terms and conditions that go with that, which many operators are, they want access to all the Google services, they see the advantage for their particular customer base. But then equally, some operators, they want to do things in a different way, they want to have more control. And I think that’s where rdk comes in.

At the end of the day, it’s sort of really more of a toolkit, you can use as much or as little as RDK, as you want to use, you can customise it to your requirements. So then it comes down to more of a diff- really a matter of choice you as an operator or serving an operator. Do you want that complete turnkey that’s there? Or do you want to be able to sort of customise it to your own individual needs and requirements. And I think that’s where RDK comes in. So it’s a bit more like Android LSP, then the sort of open source, open source version of Android that you can sort of pick and choose and do a bit more with but obviously, you don’t get access to the niceties when you go down that route.

Jamie 8:55
Of course, it just allows for a lot more innovation within it.

Jason 9:00
Yeah that’s a good way of putting it.

Jamie 9:01
Yeah, that’s it. Yeah. So I-

Amy 9:04
-sorry. I think for DTVKit, from our perspective, Android and rdk performs similar technical functions in the marketplace, bit like what Jason was saying. But rdk seems much more aligned with operator requirements. So it offers the benefits associated with Android, but with more commercial flexibility. And that’s really important to our members. So for for DTVkit, it’s a great offering in partnership with rdk.

Jamie 9:39
No, absolutely. I fully agree with you on that one , Amy. So yeah, I guess I guess at the moment platforms like these, as we were saying they’re much more accessible to larger companies. But in your opinion, do you think there are ways to make it more available to smaller companies for software?

Jason 9:57
Yeah, I think that’s where DTVKit and companies such as OBS come in, as I said rdk gives you that flexibility. But obviously, with flexibility comes sort of some responsibility as well, you need to have a certain level of competence, understanding and resources, be able to take the toolkit that is rdk in sort of fashion into, you know, the end product, the end services that you want to be able to support. A lot of the big operators that in the early days have their own rdk, the Comcast, the skies of this world, they can afford to maintain their own engineering teams developed their own applications.

Similarly, the big, you know, OEMs, the big set top box manufacturers only have large engineering teams, they can afford to have that level of investment to do the customizations necessary. But for the smaller operators and the OEMs, that serve them, then it’s a bit harder for them to be able to get over that sort of entry barrier, to use rdk and customise it to the requirements, their particular broadcasters, you know, that sort of the functionality that they need in their regions to be able to, you know, attract the customer base.

So, now, I think that’s where DTVkit and OBS come in, you know, our level of expertise, we can provide a headstart to those smaller operators and OEMs, we can support them with the customizations they need DTV kit as the community can give them, that sort of Head Start, similar to what RDK is doing with it sort of video accelerator idea. But that’s a bit limited in scope at the moment, it’s mainly focused on sort of a subset of sort of turnkey IP box. So it’s not much used to those operators out there that have sort of invested heavily in sort of satellite infrastructure and broadcast at the moment. So in the VA programme, a lot of the current vendors supporting at the moment tend to be the bigger OEMs, they just, you know, from their commercial pressures, they have to target the bigger operators. So again, it’s harder for the smaller guys to get, they can they can take a VA, but it’s harder for them to get the customization they want from the bigger guys, because fundamentally, they haven’t got the commercial returns to justify investing the effort.

So that’s the only way smaller OEMs come in, they can do those things for the smaller operators. But it can be a bit hard just to break into that sort of circle of chicken and egg problem getting the interest of the silicon vendors to help support them with customizations and without the operators already signed up. They’ve got nothing to show them. So I think that’s where DTV kit we can we can produce our own sort of reference to help them get going get get over that entry barrier. And their companies like us ocean blue can help them bring it to market quickly with the expertise that we can offer.

Jamie 12:47
I say almost given everybody a really soft welcome into the into the software and just making it easy for them to exactly get to understand. Okay, so you’ve both been working together on a new project. Amy, can you tell us a little bit more about this new project?

Amy 13:04
Yeah, yeah, definitely. So we have been collaborating along with other members, including RDK and EKT, on the hybrid white label platform. So this is a solution for small to medium operators, moving from ZAPO to hybrid services. So in rdk terms, think of it as an independent video accelerator for hybrid DVB platforms, specifically targeting SMEs.

And basically it’s aimed at overcoming the challenges of getting silicon support for lower volume operators and OEMs. Yeah, so we are really excited about this. In a nutshell, it’s a white label box. So it means you can put your own brand on it, we will deliver the platform with a defined profile of rdk 4.0. The UI will be based on VA UI and some example applications. But one thing to know we will not deliver the SOC SDK. This must be obtained directly from the SOC manufacturer vendor. But yeah, it’s due to launch… well, it’s available to pre order now. But June is our launch month. So yeah, keep your eyes peeled. Okay, so

Jamie 14:35
yeah, definitely. It’s only around a corner now. Right? Yeah. But Jason, how have your team found working on that project?

Jason 14:43
I think he’s, it’s been an exciting project for us. I mean, as Amy said, I will point to the white label box is about to give the smaller EOM’s really get over the hurdle of being able to prove that they can produce an rdk platform for the operators. I mean, rdk does have its reference platform, which is the Raspberry Pi, which is useful in sort of being able to build knowledge and do some, you know, proof of concept things or when it comes to showing something to an operator, they want something that looks like a set top box. And as Amy said, it’s often hard to get the support from the silicon vender to give, you know, get a platform, one of their reference platforms, without already having the operator on board, it comes back to that chicken and egg thing. And that’s where the white label platform I think, is an exciting solution; it enables the smaller OEMs to you know, buy this box relatively inexpensively. as Amy said, it could be branded, however they wanted to is a set top box platform, and it will be completely a commercial one. But I think DTV kit will provide the design. So if you wanted to mass produce it, you could do really, but it just enables them to get in the door. So something that looks like a real product with idk on with some of their customization so that we can develop a product. And then hopefully, they can get the buy in from the silicon vendors as well. So they can actually migrate to the actual target production platform.

So we found a very interesting project to work on. And we’ve been busy sort of providing the starting to develop all the software images that go with the hardware, obviously, that’s come from the UK at the the other DTVKit member that’s been cooperating on this. And we’ll also be producing all the sort of reference material that goes with it as well they use it guys, all the web material, everything you need to do everything you need. So that once you get one of these boxes, you can get up and running with it quickly. Like obviously, were there as well, if the customer wants help, you know, they’re sort of early stages of understanding rdk how to get it running on the boxes, how to tailor them to their requirements. That’s where ocean blue comes in. We can offer those services and we can help them all the way through to production if they want to, as well.

Jamie 17:00
That’s amazing. And guys, I really look forward to seeing the response from the community about this. I think I think it’s gonna be great. Look, both of you. It’s been an absolute pleasure to have you on the podcast. And thank you so much to you both and and to our listeners, just for everybody to know where can we find you guys online? Amy?

Amy 17:22
Yeah, so we’re online DTVKit.org. And we will have details of the white label box. So you can go and preorder your box or however many you want today.

Jason 17:38
Yeah, we’re just – a bit of a mouthful – but it’s just Oceanbluesoftware.com and also on LinkedIn as well. We’re on there so pleased to search for ocean blue software, and you’ll see as our websites and contact details.

Jamie 17:51
Perfect. Guys, make sure to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn using at the rdk podcast. And please make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you get a notification every time we upload a new episode. For now, take care and let’s continue the conversation

 

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