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Voice assistants, accessibility features, DVB-I HbbTV releases new version of core specification

The HbbTV Association, a global initiative dedicated to providing open standards for the delivery of advanced interactive TV services through broadcast and broadband networks for connected TV sets and set-top boxes, is pleased to announce the publication of version 2.0.4 of its core specification.

The three main highlights of the new version are the integration with voice assistants, with accessibility features, (e.g. dialogue enhancement or user interface magnification), and with the new DVB-I standard, enabling HbbTV ‘red button’ applications to be used with live/linear TV services received as a DVB-I stream via broadband networks. Their availability depends on the TV set or set-top box supporting the underlying feature.

There are also a number of smaller enhancements and fixes to errors found in previous versions of the HbbTV specification. A full list of the new features and changes can be found in the HbbTV 2.0.4 “explainer” in the resources library on the HbbTV website.

“This new version of the HbbTV core specification represents a huge amount of work by our members over the last 18 months. With this new milestone, the key global and European stakeholders of the TV world have evidenced their commitment to make sure HbbTV is always and fully up to the challenges of bringing a compelling TV experience to viewers,” said Vincent Grivet, Chairman of the HbbTV Association.

Jon Piesing, HbbTV Vice-Chairman and Chairman of the Specification Group which spearheaded the specification development process, added: “We are excited about the opportunities HbbTV 2.0.4 creates to improve the experiences for users of HbbTV applications and services. Integration with voice assistants is significant as voice input becomes more widely used in user interfaces of TV sets and other home devices. Accessibility features are an essential addition in the context of the European Accessibility Act. Integration with DVB-I is important as the distribution of live/linear programming via IP streams to TV sets becomes more widespread in the future.”

The HbbTV Association will shortly be issuing a Request for Proposals for the development of unit tests for the new features. While some of them may be reviewed and approved in time to be included in HbbTV’s July 2023 Conformance Test Suite release, most should be ready to be included in the February/March 2024 Test Suite release.

The HbbTV Association invites users of its specifications to provide feedback at any time. Please contact us by email at communications@hbbtv.org.

While such casual and direct input from specification users is welcomed by the HbbTV Association, market players using HbbTV are advised that the best way to influence and contribute to the HbbTV specification is by becoming a member and participating in the working group activities such as the Requirements Group which captures future requirements and the Specification Group where the specifications are generated based on those requirements. Information on membership and a list of all members can be foundhere.

Note: Improving accessibility through HbbTV-based solutions was the focus of a webinar hosted by the HbbTV Association in September 2021. The session features use case examples from several European markets, a look at the EBU guideline for accessibility services with HbbTV and future improvements. A recording of the 60-minute webinar and the presentations held by the speakers are available here.

About the HbbTV Association
Hybrid broadcast broadband TV (or “HbbTV”) is a global initiative founded in 2010 developing a specification enabling the delivery of advanced and interactive TV and entertainment services to consumers through a combined use of both broadcast and broadband networks. The HbbTV specification is developed by industry leaders to improve the video experience of consumers on connected TV sets, set-top boxes and multiscreen devices. The HbbTV specification uses elements of existing specifications from other standards including OIPF, CEA, DVB, MPEG-DASH and W3C. With the incorporation of activities from the Open IPTV Forum (OIPF) in 2014 and Smart TV Alliance in 2016, HbbTV is able to address service providers and technology suppliers for IPTV services as well as the combined scope of broadcast and over-the-top (OTT) services.

HbbTV is organised as a non-profit association registered in Switzerland and has around 80 members which include all global TV manufacturers, the large European broadcasters and TV platforms as well as a vast array of global technology and chipset vendors. More information: www.hbbtv.org

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