Monsoon Multimedia, best known as the scrappy David to Sling Media’s Goliath in the placesifting market, has announced that they’re looking to licensing their placeshifting and multi-screen technologies to other consumer electronics vendors for inclusion in their products. Monsoon is best known by their HAVA placeshifting brand, and their more recent Vulkano placeshifting/DVR products. I’ve always viewed them as chasing Sling Media and never quite catching them, as their products have generally had less polish and fewer overall features – though they’ve had some unique features Sling lacks. But they’ve doggedly stayed at it for years, and I have to admit they’ve come a long way.
Their new tack seems to follow in EchoStar’s/Sling Media’s ‘SlingLoaded’ footsteps, looking to get Slingbox technology into other products such as cable STBs and DVRs. However, to date, the SlingLoaded effort hasn’t met with much success. Some of this could be attributed to the close ties between EchoStar and Dish Network. If you’re an MSO looking to add placeshifting to your offerings, you might be hesitant to be seen as supporting the competition (Dish Network) by licensing from their sister company (EchoStar). Perhaps Monsoon, unencumbered by such competitive issues, real or perceived, might have more success, despite being less well known than Sling? Could be.
Here’s what they’re offering to prospective licensees:
Monsoon has developed five integrated modules that enable semiconductor encoder companies to easily begin offering placeshifting capabilities. Including Adaptive Bit-Rate Encoding and Transcoding, Http Live Streaming (HLS) for Live Video Sources, Proprietary Streaming Protocol, Connection Management and Multi-Screen Client Technologies. Monsoon has already ported these modules on multiple encoders.
Monsoon will also make a large number of applications, such as YouTube, VoD, Web Browser, Time Shifting, UPnP/DLNA and other Smart TV applications, available as part of its licensing arrangements.
Adaptive Bit-Rate Encoding continuously measures the available network bandwidth and adjusts the encoding bit rate to deliver smooth video streaming Quality of Service (QOS) over a wide range of network conditions.
Http Live Streaming (HLS) has been extended by Monsoon to support a real-time bit-rate control method of delivering live video sources via the industry standard HLS protocol, without requiring pre-encoding and caching of multiple bit-rate copies of the file.
Proprietary Streaming Protocol moves video from inside the house to outside the house with much finer granularity of the video encoding and without requiring any router set up. UDP protocol with hole punching and NAT (Network Address Translator) traversal is deployed to eliminate the need for router port forwarding.
Connection Management is a secure cloud-based service that allows clients to connect to servers without using fixed IP addresses or DNS (Domain Named Service).
Multi-Screen Client Technologies include video playback of placeshifted live TV streams, recording and trick play (Pause/FF/RW) on clients, and virtual on-screen remote control for set-top boxes, EPGs and side loading. Client technologies are available on iPads, iPhones, Android smartphones and tablets, Blackberry phones and tablets, PCs and Macs.
I used to think Monsoon might be the best bet for TiVo to add placeshifting to their products, since there was no way they’d adopt Sling’s technology as long as the lawsuit with EchoStar was ongoing. But now that the lawsuit is settled and TiVo and EchoStar claim to be BFFs, and EchoStar has an interest in licensing TiVo’s patents for their products, it might be more likely that TiVo would negotiate a license for Sling’s tech as part of a future deal. But Monsoon’s technology could be of interest to other set top box vendors looking for a competitive edge.