'YouView' Media Centre?


12 posts
by Peet McKimmie » Thu Jul 05, 2012 12:08 pm
Hi. Just a suggestion if any talented programmers are short of ideas...

"YouView" was launched in the UK a couple of days ago. The idea is to provide an open media platform that mixes Freeview with all the main channel's free "catch-up" services. They say that a combined Freeview/YouView box will cost £200...

It occurs to me that USB Freeview tuners can be had for under £16, and the Pi already has internet connectivity... It would seem like an obvious project, if anyone fancies having a go. (Sadly, my programming skills aren't up to the task.)

The "Core Technical Specification" can be downloaded here: http://www.youview.com/industry/resources/

If nothing else, I think "YouView on a Pi" would sell an *awful* lot of Pis. :-)

Peet McKimmie
Aberdeen, Scotland
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by AforAlex » Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:00 pm
Surely a better, more productive route rather than re inventing the wheel would be to look at XMBC.

It can already support BBC and ITV iPlayer ... and I suspect it can do others.

Have a look here : viewtopic.php?t=6222

However I'm not convinced you are ever going to be able to use a RPi as a usable PVR, and I think you will be disappointed if you try. Is a $25 is going to be able to keep up with a £300 YouView Media Centre. The problem with USB TV Tuners is that they expect the CPU to do a lot of the work ... its a powerful little fella, but not sure its got enough grunt to take in two video feeds, do all the decoding and then write one to the SD card whilst watching the other .... or recording two streams to the SD card whilst watching iPlayer .... I just can't see it being that powerful.

I would love to be proved wrong however.
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by Peet McKimmie » Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:17 pm
It's not the PVR functionality of YouView that's appealing, but rather the interface to allow the whole of the pervious week's programming from all the supported channels to be accessed with a single streaming interface. That part, at least, should be well within the Pi's capabilities.
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by Max » Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:31 pm
Peet McKimmie wrote:It occurs to me that USB Freeview tuners can be had for under £16, and the Pi already has internet connectivity...


Think that Freeview's SDTV channels are MPEG-2, which currently wouldn't work.

viewtopic.php?f=63&t=10171
by jackschidt » Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:32 pm
I'd have to agree with that - minimum spec according to youview is CPU: 950 DMIPS+

Also - more importantly : codecs. Wouldn't DVB-T content require an MPEG-2 licence ?
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by welshblob » Thu Jul 05, 2012 2:03 pm
I'd prefer a youview xbmc addon. Although I understand little about the backend systems my assumption is that youview is trying to standardise the gui and architecture that delivers these catchup services. Therefore instead of having different addons for each service that need to be maintained we could have just one. I'm not sure how likely it is though.

Rob
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by IanCalvert » Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:22 am
Here's the core spec:

https://industry.youview.com/resources/ ... on_1.0.pdf

It occurs to me that USB Freeview tuners can be had for under £16, and the Pi already has internet connectivity... It would seem like an obvious project, if anyone fancies having a go. (Sadly, my programming skills aren't up to the task.)


It's quite a task. For a start, you're going to need to get stagecraft 2 running on the RPi with decent performance (all the UI and content provider apps are in AS3, and you'll be playing back HD video here too) . Then you'll need to support a lot of (all of?) D-Book 7.

You'll need to be able to decode HD. I'm pretty sure you need to be able to do 1 full HD screen and another quarter screen to display, although I think you need to do two for recording.

You'll then need to build MHEG support on top, and I think then add mheg to flash launching.

Then also there's more hardware requirements:


320 GB min : Support for on disk encryption using AES128 or Triple DES.
2x dual-mode DVB-T/T2 tuners : RF characteristics as specified in DTG D-Book 7
1x HDMI v1.3 Including support for HDCP, auto lipsync, CEC
“One-Touch Play” and “System Standby”, Multichannel linear PCM audio, bitstream audio, YcbCr
4:2:2 12-bit, BT709 colorimetry.
1x SCART
Digital audio (DTS or AC-3 bitstream or linear stereo PCM) : Optical or coaxial SPDIF connection.


Also a boatload of different codecs.

You'll need to build a compliant remote control, too.

It occurs to me that USB Freeview tuners can be had for under £16, and the Pi already has internet connectivity..


Ah but you need two of them, capable of receiving encrypted HD content and recording them to disk. Add on to this the fact you need two consumer available USB2 ports as well, you're starting to look at having more than one RPi in this box.

YouView actually requires quite a lot of the boxes, it's no trivial task to support this, and I'm not sure that the Pi meets some of the hardware requirements.

Surely a better, more productive route rather than re inventing the wheel would be to look at XMBC.

It can already support BBC and ITV iPlayer ... and I suspect it can do others.


The BBC certainly doesn't support the iPlayer on XBMC, so selling a device with this on would start to get you in trouble, or at least require you have an officially supported build. Getting complaints about a platform we've never certified is a bit of a pain in the arse, too!


I'd prefer a youview xbmc addon. Although I understand little about the backend systems my assumption is that youview is trying to standardise the gui and architecture that delivers these catchup services. Therefore instead of having different addons for each service that need to be maintained we could have just one. I'm not sure how likely it is though.


It's a bit more than that, although standardising the UI is extremely important. Having a YouView plugin breaks the core concept. To fit in, you'd have to have a YouView box with a link to launch XBMC. It's also a standardisation of the delivery of the OTA content, content protection, minimum hardware specs and more. The point of it was to get away from the issues with current STBs which is that the Freeview spec never demanded much from the EPG and (afaik) had little to say about the performance of the boxes. Result : Content providers supporting lots of extremely low power boxes, and consumers with confusing UI.

Also, it's a move away from having only MHEG. A great language for certain things, but *insane* for modern development (for example, there are no variable names, loops or if statements). An example of MHEG:

Code: Select all
       {:IntegerVar 102 :OrigValue 0}
        {:Link
            113
            :EventSource 102          // Source is this test variable
            :EventType TestEvent
            :EventData True          // If condition is true
            :LinkEffect (
                                    :SetVariable ( 12 :GInteger :IndirectRef 11 )
                                    :SetData( 2 :IndirectRef 12 )
                                    :SetVariable( 13 :GInteger 1 )
                                    :SetVariable( 105 :GInteger :IndirectRef 13 )
                                    :TestVariable( 105 3 :GInteger  1100 )
                                    :SetData ( 3 :IndirectRef 12 )
                                    :Add(11 1)
                                    :SetVariable( 102 :GInteger :IndirectRef 11 )
                                    :TestVariable( 102 3 :GInteger 1100 )
            )
        }
           {:IntegerVar 10 :OrigValue 0}
   {:IntegerVar 11 :OrigValue 2}
   {:IntegerVar 13 :OrigValue 0}
    {:OStringVar 12 :OrigValue ""}


Instead, there's AS3, which is a significant step forwards (it even has functions!).

It's not the PVR functionality of YouView that's appealing, but rather the interface to allow the whole of the pervious week's programming from all the supported channels to be accessed with a single streaming interface. That part, at least, should be well within the Pi's capabilities.


Yes, although to get iPlayer, you'll need to support either AS3 or (preferably) HTML5 with reasonable performance. I'd like to see what kind of performance it gets in one of the standard browsers actually.
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by robwriter » Sat Jul 07, 2012 10:37 am
HD tuners cost >£50 each and have poor linux support. When I checked last there was 1 USB tuner that had proper support.

But I'm not sure the idea would be to create an official YouView box, more just the fact that the Pi can already do a lot of this, so if someone could find a way to package up a Pi with software that did some of what YouView does this they may find a place in the market. But obviously not without MPEG-2.

I agree that the most interesting part of this is the single interface to access all content from catch up services. XBMC can access all of this right now, but it's far from a nice user experience and can be quite flakey. So can my Xbox 360, but again, it'd be nice to have a single place to access the content.

I'll do some digging but I assume that YouView is closed, so other people can't piggy back on to this service. It has some nice ideas, but not at £300.
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by IanCalvert » Sat Jul 07, 2012 11:54 am
robwriter wrote:I agree that the most interesting part of this is the single interface to access all content from catch up services. XBMC can access all of this right now, but it's far from a nice user experience and can be quite flakey.


It's because it's unfortunately unsupported.

I'll do some digging but I assume that YouView is closed, so other people can't piggy back on to this service.


It's actually quite open, any manufacturer can come along and build a YouView box. It's an open spec, but not open source. This is unsurprising really, because the content creators need some control over what their software is run on (for reasons of support and rights, as well as potentially profit). It also means that if a box says YouView on it, you know it meets certain requirements and should perform to some minimum standard.
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by robwriter » Sat Jul 07, 2012 1:35 pm
IanCalvert wrote:It's because it's unfortunately unsupported.


Interested by what you mean here - are you referring to the fact that the BBC, ITV etc don't support XBMC, or that the XBMC plugins aren't part of the official XBMC build.

Whilst I realise the BBC don't support the iPlayer on XBMC and that they never will, I don't see this as a big issue, providing someone wants to provide updates for the plugins as and when they are required, and sets up some method to push these updates to the XBMC user.

IanCalvert wrote:It's actually quite open, any manufacturer can come along and build a YouView box. It's an open spec, but not open source. This is unsurprising really, because the content creators need some control over what their software is run on (for reasons of support and rights, as well as potentially profit). It also means that if a box says YouView on it, you know it meets certain requirements and should perform to some minimum standard.


I guess what I was wondering if it would be possible to write software that tapped in to the YouView offering without actually making a YouView box. I doubt this is something that YouView want to happen, so I'm guessing the answer is no. But I'll read the manual.
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by IanCalvert » Sun Jul 08, 2012 5:13 pm
robwriter wrote:Interested by what you mean here - are you referring to the fact that the BBC, ITV etc don't support XBMC, or that the XBMC plugins aren't part of the official XBMC build.


Sorry, I meant that it's not supported by the likes of the BBC.

Whilst I realise the BBC don't support the iPlayer on XBMC and that they never will,


It's not impossible, and in fact if anyone sold a box with XBMC on in the country, iPlayer could have a chance (I think the boxee has a certified player on it but I might be massively mistaken). All depends on whether or not we could drop an existing implementation in, and how much work it would be.

I don't see this as a big issue, providing someone wants to provide updates for the plugins as and when they are required, and sets up some method to push these updates to the XBMC user.


It depends on the size of the userbase, because they *could* request it be pulled. This is more of a concern for anyone selling such a box. We get a lot of complaints when the uncertified ones perform badly or crash, and we've got accessibility requirements we need to meet on all the platforms we are on.

I guess what I was wondering if it would be possible to write software that tapped in to the YouView offering without actually making a YouView box. I doubt this is something that YouView want to happen, so I'm guessing the answer is no. But I'll read the manual.


Essentially what it is is a PVR, supporting a language like AS3 linking to (and running on top of) broadcast, so you could build something like youview in XBMC already I think. To make use of anything produced *for* youview, and you'll need to start supporting things like Air with deep integration.
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by welshblob » Mon Jul 09, 2012 11:22 am
For me I'm not after a full youview experience or creating a youview pi based product necessarily more just for a common plugin for xbmc for the catchup services. That said most xbmc plugins have fairly basic yet functional interfaces so maybe there is scope for something like the tvcatchup v2 interface. Also for PVR functionality I think I'd let xbmc handle that as I think I'm going to use the client server approach to that.

Will be interesting to see if the services are open enough for someone to be able to write a script though.

Rob
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