Multimedia without frontiers

Marco Lohse writes “Today, an increasing number of multimedia devices, such as TVs, hi-fi systems, digital video recorders, but also mobile phones, provide networking capabilities. However, current applications restrict themselves to only perform simple data transfer or only work with devices developed by specific manufacturers. In order to further exploit the networking capabilities of these devices, researchers from the Computer Graphics Lab at Saarland University have developed the ‘Network-Integrated Multimedia Middleware (NMM)’, which by now supports arbitrary networking technologies and various operating systems.

The new NMM software architecture allows to transparently connect all
available distributed devices. Furthermore, control options are
provided throughout the network. This results in completely new
‘virtual’ devices: For example, a commodity mobile phone can become a
radio receiver or the same video recording can be displayed on three
TV sets simultaneously. A ground-breaking and previously not available
feature is the possibility to operate across different
platforms. Arbitrary networking technologies and various operating
systems are supported. The software runs on Windows, e.g. the PC at
home, but also on different Linux and Unix systems, such as
settop-boxes, mobile phones, or personal digital assistants (PDAs).

The potential of this software architecture will be demonstrated at
CeBIT 2005 by showing a networked multimedia home-entertainment
system. The overall system allows for the flexible integration and
control of all available devices, for example for accessing the TV
program at different places within a household. In addition, media
playback can be handed over spontaneously between devices, e.g. from a
mobile MP3 player to a hi-fi system in the living room. At the same
time, several users are allowed to join already running presentations
in order to enjoy the same content on different systems.

The developed NMM software is released under licenses that allow to
use it within Open Source and research projects, but also within
commercial products. Professional support will be provided by a
specialized spin-off company.

The NMM architecture and the home-entertainment system will be
demonstrated at the Saarland Research Parc at CeBIT 2005 in Hannover,
Germany, from March 10th to 16th (hall 9, booth D09).

More information is available at