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Neotion drives innovation in IoT, but new CEO to keep one foot firmly in the CAM camp

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On French security specialist Neotion’s stand, Lionel Boissier was attending his first IBC as the company’s new CEO, having been appointed in May this year. Boissier, whose career at Neotion stretches back 12 years to a time when it was known solely as a maker of Conditional Access Modules (CAMs), was keen to underline how the company was now positioning itself as a force for innovation in the industry: “Now it’s time to believe, and this is the objective I have – to make this innovation attitude a reality again.”

Boissier argued that the ideas had always been there, but they now had to be translated more positively into action and new products. “You will see next year, because the ideas are already there for IBC next year, lots more innovative products,” he promised.

That, however, did not mean abandoning Neotion’s position as a lead player in the evolution of the CI Plus common interface standard, he stressed. “You will see quite soon that Neotion is willing to reinforce its position in CI Plus, and this will be announced before the end of this year. […] I heard some words that Neotion will stop this CAM business. Definitely not!” he declared.

Indeed, one of the many innovations on the Neotion stand this year was a new plug-in audience measurement system created in partnership with TV Solutions provider Viaccess-Orca, which involves the use of a Neotion CAM inserted into a smart TV’s CI slot. In effect, this turns a smart TV into an operator’s own ‘peoplemeter’, recording every customer interaction with the TV set. In future, says Neotion, the technology will be aligned with the new USB form factor being finalised within the CI-Plus V2.0 standard, which would mean operators simply distributing a USB key to subscribers.

Meanwhile, two years on from the IBC launch of Neohome, Neotion’s IoT solution for the smart home, the company was demonstrating a slew of new connected products, including ‘smart’ security devices such as door/window sensors and motion sensors, a smart home remote control, and an IoT wall-switch – all sporting a sleek, white, unified design approach – as well as new features such as voice-recognition.

Neohome’s answer to Amazon’s Alexa is a speech recognition system called Christina, which in response to spoken commands can switch light-bulbs on and off, or switch on a ‘smart plug’ linked to a radio in order to turn it on. One very relevant expertise Neotion brings to the IoT environment, which has suffered some very public security breaches in recent years, is its long track-record in the TV security business.

As one stand demonstrator explained, it might well be preferable not to allow Christina to recognize anyone’s voice (which Amazon’s Alexa appears able to do) but only those of specific family members. Speech recognition is “very sensitive because of data privacy,” she said. “We have to be careful with it.”

Neotion is currently targeting Neohome at operators including cable companies, broadcasters and Internet service providers. At the moment, Neohome is at the pilot stage with a number of operators, but Neotion is hopeful that one (anonymous) Tier One operator will have begun to deploy the system by the end of the year.

Satellite operators will also be targeted with its new OTT satellite gateway, a business-to-business IP multicast solution that would allow IP content to be delivered to areas with poor broadband connectivity. “It can be either in towns when a lot of people access the network at the same time, and it’s getting jammed, or it can be in the rural areas or places where there is very little Internet access,” explained Jerome Angeloni, Pre Sales and Support Engineer at Neotion.

The system uses one satellite transponder to feed up to fifty 1Mbps channels through a dish linked to the gateway, which can then feed up to 50 devices. “We are thinking about bars, hotels, airports, with people using tablets, smartphones, and computers, and you can watch any channels you want. You can have 50 tablets watching 50 different programmes, or 50 tablets all watching the same football games, and it works perfectly,” said Angeloni.

The solution was developed by Neotion in partnership with Eutelsat and Broadpeak.

Photo: The Neotion stand at IBC 2017

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