Blockchain Enabled Software Solutions for Broadcasting Interoperability

While I was searching for inspiration on my next exciting topic to chat about, two things happened. The first was not shocking, everything is always about Covid. I don’t know about you but I am growing tired of Covid infiltrating more than our bodies. But, the fact remains that it's out there and companies from every industry are changing how they do business to adjust to these “unprecedented times”.

The other thing that happened that was completely shocking was finding my next topic, TV broadcasting. Like most things I write about, I didn’t have a clue about TV broadcasting. Likely still don’t. But, as my fellow blockchain aficionados can attest, blockchain can be applied to just about any facet of our lives and as I found out, TV broadcasting is no different. Also, like most of my writing, the decision to focus on a topic, in this case, TV broadcasting, led me down a path that I wasn’t expecting but should have because I know better.

We’re in Constant Change

Like every other industry, TV broadcasting has seen an abrupt change in how it operates. Covid has forced broadcast personalities out of the studio and into their homes. An already increasing environment of remote broadcasting suddenly saw its necessity skyrocket.

Doing live remotes, as they say in the biz, are nothing new to TV news organizations. Traditionally, such events would see audio and visual feeds fed back to the studio for manual distribution over the airways.

Now, as Covid significantly decreases the studio’s on-site staff, the manual approach is looking at a change to remote control of these broadcasts. As this transition is happening, the importance of interoperability between the varying components is being discussed.

At the same time, the industry is also going through a technological transition from Serial Digital Interface (SDI) to an Internet Protocol (IP). SDI was initially developed for standard definition systems and transmitted uncompressed, unencrypted digital video signals around broadcast TV facilities. SDI was a technological advancement from analogue component video and serves as the gold standard.

The transition to IP is pivotal for newer internet-focused business models and allows content to go straight to the customer. That connection affords content creators and broadcasters the flexibility to move and stream in any way they want instead of being confined to a studio. Proponents of IP see its potential for distribution but others are concerned about bandwidth and reliability.

The goal for the industry is to find solutions that provide all the flexibilities of SDI routing with the scalability offered by IP. The challenge is finding employees who understand the technologies, as many of us in the blockchain know. And, also like in blockchain, the industry has many standards-based and proprietary solutions that don’t all communicate well. The solution, however, to these very familiar issues with interoperability is one that Dragonchain knows all too well. Software.

Transitioning from Hardware-Based Systems

A recent article in TV Technology spoke with John Maihot, IP solutions architect with Imagine Communications who said, “It’s about changing the workflow environment from being hardware-based to software; that is where the operational flexibility comes in.” The follow-up from the author of the article, Chuck Meyer, is what grabbed my attention, “The time has come for completely IP-based facilities to emerge, with the software component being key.”
This evolution to Internet Protocols is about transitioning from a hardware-focused environment to one operating off of software.

Mr. Meyer goes on to discuss that, although he is optimistic that interoperability between hardware systems will eventually be achieved, currently, all the different manufacturers each have their own approach to implementing IP. Interoperability through the use of software while maintaining proprietary sovereignty is why Dragonchain was built.

All about Software

That’s when in the course of my research, I came across a column in Newscast Studio from Dr. Andrew Cross. By the end, I had thought I found Dragonchain’s CEO and Founder, Joe Roets’ long lost brother.

According to Newscast Studio, “Dr. Cross is President of Research & Development for the Vizrt Group. He is known for leading the development of NDI and multiple NewTek solutions, including the TriCaster, 3Play, and TalkShow. Andrew has a Ph.D. in computer vision from The University of York and has published more than 20 technical papers in peer-reviewed scientific conferences and journals. When Vizrt acquired NewTek in 2019 Andrew was named as President of R&D for the newly-formed Vizrt Group.”

In the column, Dr. Cross argues the solution to hardware-based infrastructures is one that is completely software dependent. He hypothesizes a scenario where “live production tools and non-linear production tools run either on-premises, in the cloud, or even a hybrid of both – making everything worth together across your whole situation.” He points out that due to the current climate most employees are working remotely while the need for news and content is on the rise.

When evolving into these new technologies Mr. Cross is careful to use the term software over buzz words like “virtual” and “cloud”. “The real thing here is software. Software is the superset of cloud and virtual, it is the grease that allows modern video processing to run in trucks, in sports stadiums, in TV stations, in your garage during lock-down, locally, virtually, and remotely. It can run anywhere. This is not a virtualized or cloud revolution. It is a software revolution.”

He contends that software solutions are the all-encompassing solution to address whatever the next technological advancement comes down the pike. “If you prepare yourself for software, then the rest follows – and when there is the next cloud or virtual need, you will already be ready.”

Having that all-encompassing solution saves the company from budget draining expenditure that takes away from content production. In the end, the best content is always king. Companies that produce good content and strive for scalability and flexibility while embracing technology will come out ahead. If the company is software-based then whatever technology wins out, in the end, doesn’t matter.

The decision to use SDI or IP or a hybrid is one left up to the individual companies but the interoperability between the different systems can be achieved through software. Furthermore, those software solutions can capitalize on high-security blockchains with Dragonchain.

Interoperable Software through Blockchain

I can’t say for sure but it is unlikely Mr. Cross was envisioning blockchain technology when he wrote his column to advocate for software solutions. Dragonchain’s Interchain™ system of interoperability is unique as its integration allows an enterprise to retain its traditional systems even if those systems change with advancements in technology. Interoperability with any system whether it is blockchain to blockchain, traditional systems to blockchains, or traditional systems to each other, is achieved through the lens of software.

While building its blockchain architecture, Dragonchain knew an enterprise solution would have to include key components pivotal for any business.

  • Security
  • Ability to scale at enterprise levels.
  • Selective transparency where the company can selectively choose what information is released and to who.

The addition of smart contracts to dictate the necessary protocols, deterministic transaction fees, and the ability to provide on-chain immutable proof round out the original design from its time at Disney.

Cohesive broadcasts systems, regardless of if those systems conform to industry standards or use proprietary designs, are possible with API accessible software coupled with blockchain technology. Those interoperable systems come with increased security, automated processes, and selective transparency.

As Joe says, “It's all about software.” Dragonchain encapsulated Liberty into software and is ready for the revolution.