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Next Up: RDK Streaming Sticks

Alticast is on a roll with RDK.

Alticast Corp. , a television software and integration specialist, is getting ready to demonstrate a new version of its software framework for high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) streaming sticks at next week's RDK Users Conference in Denver.

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) popularized the HDMI streaming stick form factor with the launch of Chromecast last summer. Numerous manufacturers, including LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) and Roku Inc. , have gone on to develop their own versions. The difference with Alticast is that it focuses specifically on the software for these HDMI adapters and is combining the cable-ready Reference Design Kit (RDK) platform with its own HTML5 application framework and support for Android apps.

Alticast has been testing a version of its streaming software for many months. The new release includes an RDK-based application storefront that operators can customize with their own branding and curated collection of HTML5 apps. The company says the latest software includes workflow tools for "application upload, versioning, and sales monitoring."

At the Consumer Electronics Show last month, Alticast showed how its streaming stick solution, working in tandem with a home media gateway, could deliver cable services side by side with web-based apps. In that demo, Alticast CTO John Carlucci presented several MSO-developed program guides running on an HDMI adapter, including one from Cox Communications Inc. (Cox has since confirmed that it's worked with Alticast on the proof of concept, but clarified that the testing process is still in the very early stages.) There were also links to apps from other popular consumer websites, including Twitter Inc. , Facebook , YouTube Inc. , and Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX). (See Alticast Primps for Vegas Spotlight.)

The cable industry has shown strong interest in thin clients like the HDMI streaming stick. Nick Thexton, CTO of Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)'s service provider video infrastructure group, said last month that he is a fan of the form factor, and that he is starting to see a similar response from customers. Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) senior vice president and general manager Kevin Keefe talked last fall about experimenting with an HDMI adapter product for the cable market. (See Cisco Exec: Thinner Pay-TV STBs Coming and Arris RDK Boxes Coming Soon.)

Given the growing popularity of RDK and HDMI streaming sticks, it's a good bet that we'll see more of the two platforms married together in 2014. Alticast will get the party started in Denver next week.

The Feb. 11 users conference, by the way, will be the second staged by the cable industry to spur the development and deployment of RDK, a standardized, pre-integrated software bundle designed to power IP and hybrid IP/QAM set-top boxes and media gateways. The private gathering is designed for the roughly 120 vendors, cable operators, chipmakers, and other firms that have licensed the RDK software bundle so far.

Two other licenses planning to demonstrate products next week are Espial Group Inc. and Silicon Software & Systems Ltd. (S3) . Espial will showcase "a high-performance HTML5 user experience" on multiple RDK boxes. S3 Group will highlight its testing and integration products and services for pay TV providers. In addition, Philip Brennan, vice president of technology for S3, will lead a panel discussion on how RDK code management works.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

anthony.nima 2/17/2014 | 1:07:02 AM
Re: Hmm... @michelle: Don't you think streaming is something to do with the network and the device has nothing to do with it in major scale ?  
Michelle 2/16/2014 | 9:10:26 PM
Re: Hmm... Better than Roku with features similar to Chromecast would work for me. Roku is super simple to use. It seems that ease of use is hard to find in similar streaming and 'smart' devices.
albreznick 2/14/2014 | 6:30:48 PM
Re: Hmm... Interesting, Michelle. Thanks for the feedback. So what would it take to attract you to the RDK streaming sticks? Do they need to be a lot better than Chromecast?  
Michelle 2/10/2014 | 10:47:44 PM
Hmm... The RDK streaming sticks sound promising but I remain skeptical until I can test one for myself. I bought the Chromecast device because it was cheap and there was promise of a future App Store. It's still a beta product (and buggy). I tested a different device called the SmartStick that used small HDMI form factor but it was terrible. HTML5 apps haven't quite lived up to the hype. Perhaps their day is still to come.
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