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Linux-based IP STB swaps media with cell phones

Sep 25, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive
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KDDI has announced a Linux-based IP set-top box (STB) that converts and transmits TV and Web content to the Japanese carrier's cell phones. Based on Motorola's VIP1830 hardware platform, the “Au Box” also plays back music stored on the phones, and offers CD ripping, says KDDI.

(Click for larger view of the Au Box)

The Au Box will go on sale in Japan on Nov. 1 to KDDI's 30 million “Au” wireless customers for a monthly rental fee of about $3. Targeted primarily at users who own mobile phones, but no PC, the box aims to integrate KDDI's Au-branded 3G wireless services and its broadband ADSL and Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) services.


Au Box (front)
(Click to enlarge)

The STB can be used to access the Internet and to display video from KDDI's “Hikari One” TV service. It also enables users to download movies and music onto their mobile phones from KDDI's online stores. These include the “ChakuUta Full” (music ringtone full) music download store for Au phone users, as well as its broadband “LISMO” online music and video stores, says the company.

Hardware

The Au Box STB is said to be based on Motorola's VIP1830 reference design, incorporating an undisclosed system-on-chip (SoC) and programmable digital signal processor (DSP). Motorola typically uses a MIPS-based processor for its IP STBs, 80 percent of which are said to run Linux. The processor provides VOD (video on demand) IP multicast capability for MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 part 10 (H.264), says Motorola.


Au Box (back)
(Click to enlarge)


Au Box controller
(Click to enlarge)

The device is equipped with a 10/100 Ethernet port, dual USB 2.0 ports, composite video in and video out ports, audio in and out connections, and a stereo mini port. Running off an 100VAC 50MHz/60MHz power supply, the Au Box is said to consume 20 Watts. A separate controller (right) is provided for interacting with the 10.5 x 3.1 x 8.7-inch box.

KDDI's STB has a DVD player/CD burner for watching DVDs, as well as ripping audio content for transfer to the phone. It can not only transmit downloaded or ripped content to the Au phones, the company claims, but can also retrieve music back from the phones for playback using its “Euphony” sound system and stereo speakers.

Software

The Au Box runs Motorola's Linux-based KreaTV IP STB open software platform, which is used on the VIP1830. KreaTV comes with applications including a navigator, portal, browser, TV, VOD, settings, teletext, and remote reboot programs, says Motorola. The software is said to offer pre-integration with “leading middleware applications, conditional access systems, and video servers,” as well as open standard interfaces for browser or native application level development.


Motorola KreaTV architecture
(Click to enlarge)

Motorola offers a KreaTV Linux application development kit (ADK), as well as related extension- and design development kits, says Motorola. The ADK includes:

  • GNU-based cross-compiling tool chain
  • KreaTV Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) for selected STBs
  • Documentation in HTML
  • Example source code (hello world, simple browser plugin)
  • Demo applications (infobroker, mediaplayer, memory display, video mixer)
  • KreaTV boot image builder's tool
  • Font support (Kreativ font)
  • Keyboard layouts
  • USB support
  • Video server clients
  • Multicast TV clients
  • KreaTV “Ether” theme/skin


Au Box screens
(Click to enlarge)

The STB also uses Opera Software's Opera Devices 9 browser for rendering content on both an attached TV, as well as on the mobile phone display. The box additionally includes MCCI's Linux-based, host-side USB drivers for connecting the box to mobile phones and other handheld devices via a USB connection.

Dan Moloney, executive VP and president of Motorola's Home & Networks Mobility business, said, “KDDI and Motorola have established a strong relationship by working together in network infrastructure deployment in the past. We are excited to support KDDI in this new offering that will enhance personal media experiences for mobile users in Japan.”

Availability

The Au Box will be made available in Japan on Nov. 1 in Au cellular service contracts for 315 yen (about $3 US) per month, says KDDI. More information may be found at this translated KDDI page, or this translated Motorola Asia page.


 
This article was originally published on LinuxDevices and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit LinuxToday.com for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.

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