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Getting Android, iOS and service provider apps to talk the same language

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Technicolor believes it has the key to a truly connected life with a common software language called Qeo that enables interoperability between Operating Systems, middlewares and different applications. Qeo will enable Android apps to talk to iOS apps and any of these to communicate with bespoke service provider apps, meaning that if the apps publishers wish, they can make apps-generated data available in Qeo for universal use without developing separate client apps for every apps environment and device. If Qeo delivers on the promises Technicolor is making, it should make it easier to deploy companion screen TV experiences, service provider-led SmartHome services and integrated communications services.

Technicolor launched Qeo at CES this week and announced support from IBM, STMicroelectronics, Seagate, Avanquest, Telecom Italia and Portugal Telecom. According to Benoit Joly, Senior VP Marketing at Technicolor, five leading telcos are committed to deploying Qeo in home devices. With its significant market for modems, residential gateways, media gateways and STBs, Technicolor can go some way to providing scale for the new interoperability language. A Qeo developer programme will kick-off in Q1.

Technicolor is attempting to overcome one of the biggest hurdles to the ‘Connected Life’ paradigm, namely the co-existence of distinct OS/middleware/apps/services/device ecosystems that are generally difficult, time-consuming and costly to bridge. As the company pointed out at CES, users would like to enjoy their favourite applications and services on all devices but the user experience for connected home services remains complex and fragmented.

“You have to be either an Apple or a Google person today and must choose one camp unless you want a disjointed experience,” Joly points out. “For the developer and service provider this is a very complicated world; you have to hire different people to develop applications for multiple environments and you have to understand the different technical worlds. If you want applications to talk to each other you need to work with the different developers.”

Qeo software modules allow applications and OTT cloud solutions to speak to one another and the language is designed to work with existing but also any future OS/apps ecosystems that emerge. Any app/device that ‘speaks’ Qeo can publish information in the language and retrieve information published by other apps/devices in this language, then make use of that information. This could include usage data or status and they can also share content. Application developers decide what data they want to make available in Qeo. The new interoperability language works with or without the backing of the major CE companies who control ecosystems, like Apple.

A service provider that wants to offer some home automation functions can create an application that resides in the home gateway but publishes data in Qeo that iOS or Android tablets and smartphones, and different brands of Smart TVs, could use. This is one example of how it becomes easier to reach all the screens in the connected home. If the service provider is partnering with a home security company that manages the alarm system, they could retrieve Qeo information from that system.

Service providers are increasingly interested in offering more broadband-centric services and are well placed to become the  aggregator of such services but not necessarily the company that delivers or manages every one of them. Partnerships with remote health service providers beckon, for example. Qeo would make it easier for them to gather data from different ecosystems, making it possible to then present a unified and user-friendly connected life dashboard that can be accessed across various screens.

Qeo has obvious potential where lots of interconnection is required or where it is particularly difficult to integrate the separate ecosystems. Qeo could help pave the way for the ‘Internet of things’.

“With Qeo, creating cross-device and cross-OS applications has never been so easy and straightforward. Developers can build distributed applications without having to care about the diversity of languages, OS or environments. It is all about giving free rein to developers’ imaginations,” Technicolor declares.

The company used CES to demonstrate a number of use cases for its new software language, including set-top boxes, Android and iOS devices communicating with each other. If a Pay TV operator has developed a companion app for iOS devices that provides remote control of the STB, the operator could use Qeo to make the data from that app available to Android devices as well.

Qeo comes with tools to monitor and manage all Qeo-enabled devices and Technicolor says this will keep operational costs under control. “It provides views, from global home networks down to individual customers, devices or applications, enabling all sorts of personalization,” explains the company.

For consumers, the most visible benefit will be the ability to access a wider range of applications from the device they purchase. “You will not have to choose the device or manufacturer because of the applications available,” says Joly. Then there are the connected home functions that might not otherwise have been possible, like a doorbell notification to your TV or mobile, or switching a TV video call to a tablet.

Joly believes CE manufacturers will also benefit because each of their devices will have greater value to a consumer if it opens the door to more apps and connected life features.

According to Michel Rahier, President of Technicolor’s Connected Home Division: “During recent years we have built a solid understanding of the issues created by heterogeneous and closed ecosystems that fragment the user experience. This is why we have developed Qeo: a technology that enables devices to speak the same language, be interconnected with each other, and create totally new use cases for the Connected Life and the ‘Internet of things’.

“We are excited to have received strong support from major operators and industry leaders for this initiative. We commit to keep pushing Qeo forward as the new standard for Connected Life”.

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