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Hybrid terrestrial/satellite STB offers Linux dev platform

Feb 12, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 13 views

French consumer electronics firm Sagemcom has joined with Belgian software company SoftAtHome to collaborate on an MPEG4-ready HD set-top box combining IPTV, satellite, and terrestrial delivery. The “Universal Set Top Box” offers DLNA-compliant content sharing, removable storage, and an open Linux SoftAtHome development environment.

The Universal Set Top Box is claimed to be the first MPEG4 HD STB to combine IPTV, satellite, and terrestrial delivery with DLNA content sharing and removable storage. The "fifth generation" hybrid IP set-top box (STB) is built around what appears to be a yet-to-be-announced "ST7105" chipset from STMicroelectronics (STM).

Sagemcom's Universal Set Top Box
(Click to enlarge)

Sagemcom offered few hardware details about the device, except to say that it provides an eSATA conection with a removable hard disk, enabling operators to address needs ranging from low cost receivers to high-end digital media recorders. The STB is aimed at Orange's premium-service customers "who want to build complete digital video libraries," says the company.

The Universal STB runs the Linux-based SoftAtHome Operating Platform STB Edition, which provides third-party developers and service providers with application programming interfaces (APIs) and other tools to develop "convergent applications," says Sagemcom. SoftAtHome applications can run across different DLNA-ready devices including home gateways and STBs, and supports standard languages such as Flash and HTML, says Sagemcom.

SoftAtHome Operating Platform architecture

(Click to enlarge)

According to the SoftAtHome website's developers section, the Linux-based SoftAtHome Operating Platform exposes all necessary services through open and documented APIs in C, JavaScript, or ActionScript. Services are said to include voice communications, video playback, GUIs, network access, and DLNA content discovery and sharing. Additional capabilities include power management, QoS (quality of service), security, remote management, and support for third party services such as CAS (Conditional Access System), says SoftAtHome.

Sample applications provided with the SoftAtHome distribution include location-based Caller ID, personal web gallery, weather forecast widget, content navigator app, as well as bandwidth and WiFi management monitors. The distribution also provides a sample content sharing app that involves remote viewing of USB-key content on a TV set through a VPN connection, says the company.

Stated Georges Penalver, senior executive VP in charge of Orange's Group Strategy and Development, "Orange wanted a STB with a removable hard disk and content sharing while being flexible to support different delivery mechanism for future needs. The openness and richness of the SoftAtHome Operating Platform combined with the flexibility and high performance of the Sagemcom Set Top Box gave us a complete platform for our new STB offering."

Sagemcom developed one of the early Linux-based digital photo frames (DPFs) with advanced multimedia and communications features back in January 2008. The AgfaPhoto-branded AF5080W was equipped with Freescale's i.MX31 system-on-chip (SoC), and offered an 8-inch, 800 x 600 SVGA display, WiFi, and playback of MP3 music and MPEG 1/2/4 video.


Sagecom did not say when the Universal Set Top Box would be available, but said it would eventually deploy on Orange's network in France.

More information may become available at Sagemcom's site, here. More information on the SoftAtHome OS may be found here.

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