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IPTV/VoD: Fast forward to Christmas future
A day in digital heaven
Industry comment It's the Friday before Christmas. The very first thing I hear at 6am is the latest Crazy Frog jingle at full volume that's been remotely programmed into my alarm clock as a hilariously mischievous prank by my girlfriend.
I'm tempted to smash the thing, but that would mean buying the fifth one this year. At least it's nice and warm – the heating system receives hourly weather briefings from a central server that help it to regulate the temperature levels in the house. It was cold last night so it went on for two hours longer than usual.
Being a not-so-secret nerd, I live in a flat that's IP-based. You can't tell it from the outside because everything is so seamlessly integrated that it looks the same as it would have done years ago. The lifeblood of the network is my electricity cabling, which runs a gigabit Ethernet network into every room.
Every device in my home has PLC technology built in microscopically, and gets an automatic IP address when it’s plugged into the mains. It forms a home area network that controls everything electrical. The devices speak to each other through common protocols and protected from the outside world by a router/firewall fixed to the wall underneath the stairs.
As I bumble downstairs to get my morning mochaccino (already boiling as it's programmed to talk to the alarm clock), my TV has stopped playing the video version of Crazy Frog and has turned itself on and automatically tuned into Sky News, as that's my first port of call in the morning. It's important for me to get my daily dose of propaganda before I try and be independently-minded in the day.
Stock market down, politician being economical with the truth, interest rates up, international crisis – same old, same old. To break the monotony I flick over to CBC in Canada to see what the weather's like over there, as my family will happily be ice-skating away at minus 50 while I huddle up in my scarf.
I added CBC to my menu a few months ago from the line up of 5,000 international TV channels as I can get any that are available in any country. The days of satellite and terrestrial never allowed anyone to do that, but now every channel is streamed over the backbone of the internet, hundreds are springing up every day.
While I'm watching the gorgeous brunette pointing at the map, in the corner of my eye a small mail icon has appeared telling me I have new messages. I'd usually just ignore it, but I've got time, so I decide to check my inbox. Eighteen video mails, and most of them are spam. The days of written messages about penile enlargement, Viagra, stock market quotes and money-making scams are long gone – now it's the next-generation of video junk. Two of them are actually useful and from people I know. The first is from my girlfriend, clearly heroically drunk at 2am telling me how much she loves me before doing something unspeakable to the camera.
And, of course, my cat has to cause trouble. His bounding round the house and stamping on my laptop keyboard has triggered the motion sensors on my security cameras and sent me the video footage of him peeing up the curtains again. The only other piece of news is from my CFO on his way to work. He's calling to let me know the figures for the day that were collated in the last 24 hours and asking me to pop by his office when I get a chance. I need to brave the cold and go in a little earlier than anticipated.
I'm due to stay in a hotel for a conference later tonight so need to get the directions before I inevitably forget. Using my remote control I surf onto the AA's IPTV portal and text in the postcode of the place I'm going. It generates an on-screen map within seconds and I click the button telling it to email me a JPEG copy to my work email that I can print out later, and feed the details to my car, which has wireless LAN connectivity to the home network. Alongside my map is the option to peek in on the CCTV cameras along the route for real-time traffic news. I choose only the five most critical choke-points and it seems ok.
Being that ABC1 early-adopter male, my Aston Martin has all the goodies I need and they are all integrated with one another. My GPS and multimedia deck already know what I need as they are securely logged into my house network via Wi-Fi. Before I went to bed last night, I queued up five new albums of music downloads and set them to transfer onto my hi-fi in the lounge and my car stereo. Luckily, it's clever enough to auto-kill any suggestions like X-Factor singles, boy bands, emo and record label-manufactured dross before it reaches my sensitive morning ears.
It will auto-sync when I get to the office and when I get home tonight to reflect how often I play certain songs and what kinds of mood playlists I've put together. Today it's a John Mayer day. Not sure if I can deal with the Manic Street Preachers at 7am. Surviving the obligatory M25 and South Circular traffic jams is a breeze, because I can just watch TV on my mobile or car deck. Last night I got an email on my mobile phone from an industry colleague recommending I subscribe to a new news service for lovers of James Bond.