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Cable Technology Feature Article

January 07, 2014

VisualOn Serves as Transition Point for Mobile Device Fragmentation Between Media, Video Playback

By Rachel Ramsey, Content Director

In 2014, mobile continues to dominate content consumption for video and media. The number of devices are increasing per person, and if this week’s CES (News - Alert) is any indication of the future of new technologies, those numbers will only increase in the future. Interoperability across different devices and operating systems is vital for content providers to maximize their audience reach, but many seem to be facing a challenge when it comes to delivering the same performance on different devices. For example, FOX announced it will be live streaming the upcoming Super Bowl, but only on iOS devices. Why? Is it because there isn’t a market for Android users, or is it because FOX can’t deliver the same experience across multiple devices?

VisualOn (News - Alert) is a company that sets out to eliminate that fragmentation barrier and enable OEMs and content providers to expand their audience reach by enabling video across multiple devices and operating systems.

I spoke with Deepak Das, senior director of marketing at VisualOn, who explained how the company’s software framework enables content providers to offer a uniform experience across devices and OEMs to utilize specific components of its software, such as audio and video codecs, to improve playback on and ease of use on their devices.

The company’s customer base includes major content providers such as ESPN (News - Alert), Cablevision, Comcast, Netflix, Hulu, Cisco, Google and many more. Das explained that the device fragmentation in the industry today will only continue – just as Roku announced it is integrating its user interface into different smart TVs, there will be a continuation of new device types, capabilities and operating systems that will all require different frameworks to deliver high-quality performance. Manufacturers are all creating their own flavors of devices, app stores, frameworks and features, and VisualOn will be there to make sure playback across these different endpoints will be seamless.

Companies today face the challenge of incorporating the emergence of new technologies while supporting existing ones at the same time. They need a seamless solution to act as a transition point between old and new, and software framework enables that transition. Das explained that reach is one of the most important factors to content providers, and software framework enables them to reskin their products for different devices, enabling them to maximize that reach.

VisualOn enables companies to improve access to all device endpoints, access to rich content, a large subscriber base and build on existing relationships, but the key is in the first factor – enabling access to all device endpoints.

The company works with the H.264 codec and the next generation of H.264 – H.265. Das explained the company is serving where the market demand is, and that’s with H.264 and the transition to H.265. This is especially important as content providers look to provide higher quality video while reducing the amount of bandwidth on a network – Netflix, for example, will be delivering 4K video, and will need to be able to deliver that quality to all device types.

CES this week is indicative of the growth of mobile consumption – the emergence of connected environments aim to integrate the entire user experience, and companies are working on delivering a social/second-screen experience that’s relevant.

“Right now the second screen is just noise. It’s a disconnected second-screen experience,” Das explained. “Mobile is the medium of consumption, and content providers need to start to think in a ‘mobile-first’ mentality.”

VisualOn can be used for more than just pushing content to a variety of devices. Das and the VisualOn team also showcased the Peloton cycling solution, which attaches a tablet to a cycling device to make the at-home cycling experience collaborative. Users can see their analytics and performance data in real-time, and compare that to other users utilizing the solution.

In 2014, the company will be primarily focusing on its analytics capabilities, closed captioning and in-stream ads, improving the core playing level that many native players aren’t built to handle. 

Edited by Alisen Downey

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