Philips pioneers digital watermarking for hotel TVs

Mumbai: Philips is the first manufacturer to offer a watermarking solution in its hospitality television sets and will have it available starting in May in a full range of HDTV sizes including 26", 32", 37", 42" and 52". Hoteliers have long enjoyed an early-release movie window that allows them to entertain their guests with box-office hits prior to release on DVD. Philips VTrack digital watermarking solution will ease concerns about piracy that have led certain content owners to withhold high-definition media from this advance window.

In an effort to deter the unlawful copying of high definition movies in hotels and enable hoteliers to ensure that they remain available to their guests, Philips is leading the industry with its VTrack digital watermarking solution which will be demonstrated at the 2008 National Association of Broadcasters Show (NAB) in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Philips hospitality products already utilize highly-effective Pro:Idiom encryption technology to secure data from the content source to the television. Philips VTrack extends anti-piracy efforts by making electronic and camcorder copies of video material traceable and thereby decreasing the risk of piracy. Philips VTrack embeds the video with an invisible watermark that identifies the time, date and location. Therefore, if a video shows up on the internet or on pirated DVDs, content owners and law enforcement agencies can use the VTrack watermark data to determine where and when it was recorded. This helps with content security enforcement efforts and ensures that hoteliers are still able to garner HD media for early release.

Studio executives have applauded this Philips initiative to introduce this additional layer of content protection.

"We are excited that Philips has released a forensic watermark system in the hospitality market. Adding this additional layer of content protection enables us to explore new business models," says Sony Pictures Entertainment senior vice president new media and technology Richard Berger. "We believe it is critically important to seek content protection technologies like VTrack that are designed to be invisible and not to interfere with the consumer’s enjoyment of entertainment content."

Philips is also working with pay-per-view providers in the hospitality industry to ensure that any watermarking solution will work seamlessly with their infrastructure.

"We are very pleased to see a market leader like Philips propose a new solution for an issue that is of increasing importance to the hospitality industry," said LodgeNet Entertainment Corporation chief marketing officer Scott Young. "VTrack represents the first commercially viable watermarking technology that we plan to utilize in our efforts to develop a solution that will meet the needs of the hospitality pay-per-view industry and the studios."

"This is the first commercial integration of forensic watermarking in TV-sets in the industry," said Philips Content Identification business development director Wim Bus. "We work with leading chip manufacturers to integrate VTrack in a broad range of TV and Set-top boxes for the hospitality and Pay-TV market."

VTrack is part of Philips’ broad Content Identification product portfolio which is made up of state-of-the-art solutions and services to optimally sell, share and distribute audio and video content with respect to copyrights. Philips watermarking and fingerprinting technology is also being used by major Hollywood studios and Music labels for protecting and monetizing their content assets.