Apple acquires NextVR, former virtual reality streaming video service

Apple | May 14, 2020

NextVR’s eponymous VR video service never fully took off with users, despite offering 360-degree video access to select concerts and sporting events, including NBA games, WWE wrestling matches, and NHL highlights. But Apple apparently saw value in the company, and following weeks of speculation confirmed today (via Bloomberg) that it has acquired NextVR for purposes unknown. Based in Newport Beach, California, NextVR was an hour south of Los Angeles, where many of Apple’s TV+ operations are located. While Apple isn’t confirming the specific reasons for the deal, it’s quite likely that the NextVR team will become involved with future TV+ initiatives, enabling Apple to expand the breadth and/or literal depth of its video offerings. Apple TV+ currently offers only 2D videos, and no sporting or other live programming, though the company has been working on a mixed reality headset with an AR focus.

Spotlight

In the first part of our three-part series on metadata and the content supply chain, we took a look at how companies are using metadata to improve key content production processes like asset logging and management.The Ooyala Flex Media Platform uses deep metadata to streamline, connect and power the entire content supply chain. Our Content Production, Content Distribution, Digital Video Playout and Live solutions combine Ooyala and integrated partner applications designed specifically for each of these workflow stages. The platform helps content companies become more productive, make the most of existing and future system investments, and open up new revenue opportunities.

Spotlight

In the first part of our three-part series on metadata and the content supply chain, we took a look at how companies are using metadata to improve key content production processes like asset logging and management.The Ooyala Flex Media Platform uses deep metadata to streamline, connect and power the entire content supply chain. Our Content Production, Content Distribution, Digital Video Playout and Live solutions combine Ooyala and integrated partner applications designed specifically for each of these workflow stages. The platform helps content companies become more productive, make the most of existing and future system investments, and open up new revenue opportunities.

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PRODUCTS, SOLUTIONS, BUSINESS

Apple Music and Mercedes-Benz Bring Premium Immersive Spatial Audio to Drivers Worldwide

Apple Music and Mercedes-Benz | October 17, 2022

Apple and Mercedes‑Benz announced that Apple Music’s highly acclaimed Spatial Audio with support for Dolby Atmos is now available as a native experience in Mercedes‑Benz vehicles for the first time, delivering on a shared commitment to provide customers worldwide with the very best music experience. Apple Music with Spatial Audio comes fully integrated through the MBUX infotainment system first in the Mercedes‑Maybach S‑Class, the EQS and EQS SUV, as well as the EQE, EQE SUV and the S‑Class, equipping these vehicles with studio-quality sound better than in any concert hall, and giving drivers a fully immersive listening experience with unparalleled, multidimensional sound and clarity“Sound quality is incredibly important to Apple Music which is why we are so excited to be working with Mercedes to make Spatial Audio on Apple Music available natively in the car for the first time, said Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and Beats. Spatial Audio is revolutionizing the way artists create and fans listen to music and it’s an experience that is impossible to explain in words; you have to hear it for yourself to appreciate it. Together with Mercedes, we now have even more opportunities to bring wholly immersive music to our subscribers all over the world. “We’re joining forces to offer our customers a benchmark music experience unparalleled in the industry, We are proud that our vehicles will be the first-ever non-Apple devices to natively feature immersive Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos. This seamless experience shows how in-car entertainment can reach exciting new levels by perfectly integrating hardware and software.” -Markus Schäfer, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes‑Benz Group AG, Chief Technology Officer Mercedes-Benz drivers who are already subscribed to Apple Music gain immediate access to an ever-growing selection of songs and albums available in Spatial Audio from some of the world’s biggest artists spanning all genres, including hip-hop, country, Latin, pop, and classical1. Apple Music also offers curated Spatial Audio playlists like Driving in Spatial Audio and Hip-Hop in Spatial Audio, where listeners can find and discover songs from their favorite artists. Additionally, subscribers can access Apple Music’s entire catalog of 100 million songs, thousands of editorially curated playlists, and daily selections from the world’s best music experts, including all of the artists and hosts broadcasting across its Apple Music 1, Apple Music Hits, and Apple Music Country global live-stream radio stations. The limited edition Mercedes‑Maybach by Virgil Abloh, released to consumers recently, was one of the first cars in the world — and the first model in the Mercedes‑Benz lineup — to offer this superior, multidimensional soundscape powered by the Burmester® high-end 4D sound system. The technology will be rolled out to other models soon. The Burmester® high-end 4D sound system includes: 31 speakers, including six 3D speakers that emit their sound from above, 4 near-ear speakers in the front seats, an 18.5-liter subwoofer 8 sound transducers (two per seat) 2 amplifiers 1750 watts power About Apple Music Apple loves music. Apple revolutionized the music experience with iPod and iTunes. Today, the award-winning Apple Music celebrates musicians, songwriters, producers, and fans with a catalog of over 100 million songs, expertly curated playlists, and the best artist interviews, conversations, and global premieres with Apple Music Radio. With original content from the most respected and beloved people in music, autoplay, time-synced lyrics, lossless audio, and immersive sound powered by Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos, Apple Music offers the world’s best listening experience, helping listeners discover new music and enjoy their favorites while empowering the global artist community. Apple Music is available in over 167 countries and regions on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, Apple Watch, Apple TV, HomePod mini, CarPlay, and online at music.apple.com, plus popular smart speakers, smart TVs, and Android and Windows devices. Apple Music is ad-free and never shares consumer data with third parties. More information is available at apple.com/apple-music. Further information about Mercedes-Benz is available at www.mercedes-benz.com. Press information and digital services for journalists and multipliers can be found on our Mercedes me media online platform at media.mercedes-benz.com as well as on our Mercedes-Benz media site at group-media.mercedes-benz.com. Learn more about current topics and events related to Mercedes-Benz Cars & Vans on our Mercedes-Benz AG at a glance Mercedes‑Benz AG is responsible for the global business of Mercedes‑Benz Cars and Mercedes‑Benz Vans, with around 172,000 employees worldwide. Ola Källenius is Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes‑Benz AG. The company focuses on the development, production and sales of passenger cars, vans and vehicle-related services. Furthermore, the company aspires to be the leader in the fields of electric mobility and vehicle software. The product portfolio comprises the Mercedes‑Benz brand with the brands of Mercedes‑AMG, Mercedes‑Maybach, Mercedes‑EQ, G‑Class as well as products of the smart brand. The Mercedes me brand offers access to the digital services from Mercedes‑Benz. Mercedes‑Benz AG is one of the world's largest manufacturers of luxury passenger cars. In 2021 it sold around 1.9 million passenger cars and nearly 386,200 vans. In its two business segments, Mercedes‑Benz AG is continually expanding its worldwide production network with around 35 production sites on four continents, while gearing itself to meet the requirements of electric mobility. At the same time, the company is constructing and extending its global battery production network on three continents. As sustainability is the guiding principle of the Mercedes‑Benz strategy and for the company itself, this means creating lasting value for all stakeholders: for customers, employees, investors, business partners and society as a whole. The basis for this is the sustainable business strategy of the Mercedes‑Benz Group. The company thus takes responsibility for the economic, ecological and social effects of its business activities and looks at the entire value chain.

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SOLUTIONS,MEDIA AND BROADCASTING

castLabs partners with SDMC to enable new Widevine CAS approach to significantly lower set-top box integration cost and deployment time

castLabs | November 08, 2022

castLabs, a leading video delivery technology provider, has announced a collaboration with SDMC, a leading Android TV solution provider, to simplify operator deployments of Widevine CAS protected content streaming at a significantly lower integration cost and turnaround time than today's practices. Operators wishing to enable Widevine CAS licensing across IPTV or DVB networks can now avoid traditional costly customization and integration efforts. As a leading streaming security specialist, castLabs has been selected by Widevine to supply Widevine CAS backend infrastructure, players, and support. Working together with SDMC, they have created the first plug-and-play Android TV set-top box which delivers on the promise to make CAS integrations with Widevine purely app-based, in the same manner the industry is used to with DRM integrations on all Android devices. Their approach removes the need for operator-specific customizations on device firmware or the OS level. The SDMC Android TV set-top box features ready-to-use Widevine CAS, a compatible DVB-C tuner for broadcast, ethernet for multicast and OTT, and Amlogic as the initially selected SoC vendor. In addition to castLabs' DVB-stack enabling adaptation to operators' network specifics via configuration rather than code customization, the box also includes an integrated broadcast and OTT player using their feature-rich PRESTOplay technology. This supports secure IPTV/DVB (MPEG-TS with Widevine CAS) as well as OTT (MPEG-DASH/HLS with DRM) hybrid streaming experiences through a single playback app and API to reduce development and maintenance costs. On top of security capabilities, the hybrid player also enables low-latency fast channel zapping between DVB and OTT, catch up, unified analytics for all content types, remote DVB table configuration updates, and advanced TV advertising options. Traditionally, operators have needed to engage in timely CAS integration efforts from scratch for each new set-top box they offer. "We've consistently heard from customers that this current method simply takes too long to ship and creates vendor lock-ins. This practice can be considered legacy as Widevine CAS and the Android TV framework evolved to enable app-based deployments which are identical across different SoCs and device OEMs Complex integration efforts experienced today are not only costly and unnecessary, but lead to revenue delays for all parties involved with time to market extended by many months. Our streamlined turn-key box provides built-in Widevine CAS functionality and enables a launch within weeks, showing that operators can adopt innovative practices to significantly simplify set-top box rollouts by avoiding integration steps." -castLabs Co-founder, Michael Stattmann. castLabs has helped achieve this on the player-side by introducing a common API to access both the Android tuner framework for DVB and media framework for OTT, as well as a highly configurable stack for adapting to operator-specific DVB networks while reducing the need for firmware updates. "In addition to lowering cost, our approach can also speed up turnaround time by months, both of which provide huge value over traditional methods," said Michael. Operators can then take the ready to ship box as a starting point and add specific customizations for their use case. Ryan Yan, Senior VP of Sales Department at SDMC Technology, said, "We understand the challenges our customers face in providing their subscribers with diverse services and compelling features while securing the content. We've worked closely with castLabs and Amlogic to ensure that our Android TV set-top box solution is fully integrated with Widevine CAS functionality, so operators can deliver next-generation TV service including broadcast and OTT services in a more secure way but with accelerated time-to-market, which will significantly contribute to their business." SDMC and Amlogic are the first to pre-integrate this innovation enabling simplified operator deployments, however, it can also be ported to other vendors as castLabs has been directly engaged with all SoC suppliers currently supporting Widevine CAS to ensure full compatibility. This means any vendor supporting Android TV's tuner framework and MediaCas is already pre-integrated to use castLabs' DVB-stack and playback technology, which operates equally across any device. Frontend development then also becomes simplified as a player app only needs to be created once to be usable across any OEM adopting this approach. To complement this, castLabs also offers their DRMtoday cloud service providing scalable Widevine CAS and multi-DRM licensing. To learn more and view a demo of the set-top box, visit the castLabs booth at the Android TV Summit in Bangkok on 10 November 2022. About castLabs castLabs pioneers software and cloud services for digital video markets worldwide to easily enable premium movie, TV, and audio distribution. Their range of applications and services are designed to help businesses deliver high-quality video experiences through protected content playback over a wide array of consumer devices and platforms. castLabs solutions include DRMtoday multi-DRM and Widevine CAS licensing, PRESTOplay cross-platform player SDKs, Video Toolkit cloud encoding, Widevine device certification, and expert technical consulting. Learn more at castlabs.com. About SDMC As the global leader in the Smart Home ecosystem, SDMC has established end-to-end solution advantages in Android TV devices, Wi-Fi/GPON/Cable Modem devices, OTT/IoT platform, and SaaS cloud services, helping operators worldwide deliver immersive video experience and rich entertainment services to their subscribers. Through close collaboration with ecosystem partners, we create lasting value for our customers, enrich home life and build a more intelligent future. Since 2003, SDMC has served over 300 customers and 100 million households around the world. For more information on solutions, please visit https://www.sdmctech.com

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TECHNOLOGIES,SOLUTIONS

Velocity Offers Managed Solution for End-to-End Control of Hotel TV and Wi-Fi Operations

Velocity | November 09, 2022

Velocity, a rapidly growing managed solutions provider with a blue chip customer base, has rolled out a package of hospitality services designed to offer hotels a single source partner for delivering the highest quality internet and streaming tv in-room experiences to guests. The managed solution, the Velocity Hospitality Guest Experience, includes the following services: Fully managed network, data and voice services NOC and Call Center Support, 24/7 and 100% U.S.-based Wireless 4G/5G failover IoT (internet of things) Integration with Guest Wi-Fi, including door locks, fire sensors, panic buttons and more. On-site Field Technicians with nationwide coverage V-SELECT® Client Portal, a state-of-the-art tool offering a 'single pane of glass' view of all these services. Telecom/Technology Expense Management (TEM) services. Security Camera installation and ongoing monitoring and replacement. Digital Signage and Advertising, from the hardware to content to the content management system (CMS). "With this unique portfolio of managed solutions and service for hotels, Velocity is seeking to become the vendor of choice for delivery of the highest quality television and network experience, With one vendor, Velocity, hotels can now power every room, allow guests to customize their entertainment, and simplify their operations all while reducing operational costs." -Mark Walker, President and COO of Velocity A typical Velocity customer could be a large hotel, retail, or restaurant chain or any entity with numerous branch locations that can number into the hundreds of sites. Velocity delivers end-to-end management services by leveraging a network backbone of 13 redundant data centers and 5,500+ certified technicians across the nation, along with 450 carrier agreements supporting its status as a CLEC in all 50 states. About Velocity MSC Velocity delivers customized IT managed services such as IT support, network management, voice and data connectivity, multinational data networking, on-site repairs and service, field project rollouts and implementations, free-to-guest TV and Wi-Fi solutions, digital signage and DOOH media solutions, and more in the retail, hospitality, healthcare, and entertainment industries. Velocity is a privately held company with approximately 550 employees, 13 redundant data centers, 5,500+ certified technicians throughout the U.S., and 450 carrier agreements and is a CLEC in all 50 states. For more information, visit www.velocitymsc.com.

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