ContentProbe Keeps an Eye on Signals

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The multichannel environment has opened up new monitoring challenges that Omnibus co-founder Glyn Powell-Evans is hoping to remedy with his new company, IdeasUnlimited.tv.
The company's ContentProbe system takes "fingerprints" of audio and video content as it leaves a facility and verifies its integrity by matching the fingerprint when it arrives at a facility. The new company resulted in Powell-Evans' resignation from Omnibus, the traffic system developer he co-founded in 1992. He most recently was Omnibus group executive, strategy.

"This is outside the main core of what Omnibus is doing, although we think there is a lot of value to link our product to the Omnibus system," he says.

"There are a number of things that can go wrong with a signal when it leaves a facility and is sent to another," he notes. IdeasUnlimited's fingerprint helps broadcasters more easily verify the delivery of audio and video signals around the world.

Potential problems range from loss of video or audio to having the wrong audio channel received with the video channel. Compounding those problems is that people who monitor signal quality are generally asked to monitor a large volume of outgoing and incoming signals, dividing their attention into smaller slices, increasing the possibility of error or a missed problem. And Powell-Evans says that while it may be possible to monitor the video portion of multiple video signals it's impossible to monitor the audio portion.

"You can't listen to 10 audio channels at once," he says.

ContentProbe is based on a 1RU PC that runs embedded Windows XP-based software that by creates a "unique 24-byte digital fingerprint." That file is then sent to another ContentProbe PC on the receiving or monitoring side via the Internet. The two fingerprints are then compared and, if they match, both the audio and video arrived safely. If they don't match up, an alarm in the form of an SMS message to a mobile phone or an email with an attached .pdf report and mini pictures is sent to notify engineering of the problem.

Powell-Evans says the system has been registered with SMPTE as Class 14 metadata meaning it can be incorporated into the Media Exchange Format (MXF) metadata wrapper. It's available for purchase or rental with a cost of about $5-$8 per day, per channel.

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