Testing an iTV application begins during the creative development phase. As developers create applications, they need to validate usability as well as test logic to insure their presentation meets functional and stylistic requirements.
Naturally, the goal is an app that viewers love interacting with and that makes the television experience ever more “sticky”. So once the developer is happy with the basic outline of the app, they need to test their concept with their client, and with others who make representative viewers.
To begin with, basic testing can often take place within a ‘desktop’ environment, on the developer’s own development system. However, given that the app is targeted to run on a set-top box (STB) or connected TV, more thorough functional and usability testing is necessary. Although emulator software exists for both the STB and middleware such as for the EBIF user agent and MHEG engine, they fail to create the “feel” of the interactive experience. In particular, simulating the remote controller makes for an awkward user experience, and breaks the sensation of the test environment.
In an ideal world, iTV applications developers would run their applications through a headend that delivers video services with iTV applications in the streams to a STB and monitor, just as a viewer will get them. But this is a lengthy and complex process that considerably increases time to market and development costs, and stifles creativity.
The Softel suite of iTV solutions includes MediaSphere™ Desktop, a compact yet powerful headend simulation environment in a PC, which drives a real-world STB, allowing the test viewer to use a real remote controller.
MediaSphere Desktop thereby enables app creators to perform valuable testing of interactive apps. MediaSphere Desktop benefits of Softel’s very extensive expertise within the headend, designing and building the most complex playout systems in the world. This knowledge is distilled in to MediaSphere Desktop, which is used by creative agencies, programmers and operators who need a lightweight, yet purposeful simulation system to cater to client demos, research, proof of concepts, and focus group needs. MediaSphere Desktop ships with a real-world STB and remote, making practical testing a reality at a fraction of the cost of a full headend.