What’s in the pipe for Web and TV?

HTML5 goes some way to bringing media to the Web through the <audio> and <video> tags in particular. However, when it comes to using these elements to provide commercial services, a few extensions may have to be considered. Among other things, such services will expect to meet some acceptable QoS (Quality of Service) or QoE (Quality of Experience) level. A few more concrete examples come to mind:

  • Enabling access to parameters controlling the adaptive bitrate algorithm (when such an algorithm is used) and more generically exposing statistics and metrics on media streaming performance. As different bitrate algorithms may be used, the difficulty here is to find the right level of exposure and control.
  • Content splicing to link together media content in a continuous stream, thus re-creating a TV-like experience.
  • Browser handling of dynamic tracks, for instance when the media stream is of indefinite duration, as happens on a TV channel.
  • Enhancements to media elements to augment the user experience with metadata sent along the media streams, e.g. statistic info about the hockey player currently featured on the screen.

The Web and TV Interest Group has been specifically created in W3C to explore requirements and potential solutions to ensure that the Web will function well with TV. The group has just launched a Media Pipeline Task Force, set to discuss and propose extensions to the <video> and <audio> elements to support these commercial video service provider requirements.

This Task Force is the second one in the Web and TV Interest Group. The on-going Home Network Task Force is actively working on use cases and requirements to enable home networking scenarios, typically for a Web application running on your mobile device to control the streaming of a movie stored on some storage on your home network to your TV set. Sounds like cool? It is, though it quickly gets tricky as one needs to preserve security and privacy in all cases…

Both task forces are to feed back their findings into the appropriate working groups at W3C, and/or to propose the creation of new working groups when gaps are identified that need standardization.