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Thomson To Show Watermarking For STBs

3/14/2007 01:14:00 PM Eastern

Burbank, Calif. — Thomson said it will introduce at the upcoming CEBIT 2007 and NAB 2007 shows a new forensic watermarking solution for set-top boxes (STBs), called NexGuard.

The open architecture content-protection solution is said to be the first to work with standard and next-generation compression codecs including: MPEG-2, MPEG-4 AVC (H.264) and VC-1.

The NexGuard technology for STBs has been integrated into the STx7100 family of System-on-Chips (SoC) and manufactured by leading semiconductor supplier STMicroelectronics. The chips will be sold to STB manufacturers, conditional access system vendors, and Video-on-Demand (VOD) and push-VOD operators, starting this summer.

The technology places an invisible watermark into content to deter illegal copying and distribution of broadcast content delivered via IPTV, satellite, cable or traditional broadcast and viewed with digital STBs. Content owners and broadcasters can use the watermarks to track down offenders. The system embeds unique identification information into the STB video stream upon play-out that specifies the operator distributing the content as well as the individual STB serial number.

The NexGuard detection and recovery system extracts the information from illicitly copied and distributed materials to pinpoint the offending STB device. The tool individually watermarks all forms of content viewed through live broadcast including VOD, push-VOD or personal video recorder playback (PVR). The forensic mark is present on all STB video outputs, standard definition, digital HDMI and analog HD components, Thomson said.

Thomson said NexGuard is the only tool that supports next-generation compression in any digital STB without an extra preprocessing operation, because all processing is performed within the STB.

“Content owners need more tools than ever to reap financial rewards from their premium products,” stated Jean-Luc Moullet, Thomson software and technology solutions business unit VP. “STMicroelectronics’ chip with the added NexGuard technology will provide studios and operators with a powerful deterrent against illicit redistribution.”

“Watermarking is now an essential partner to encryption and digital rights management in the battle against broadcast piracy,” added Monica de Virgiliis, general manager, home video division, STMicroelectronics. ”We are pleased to arm our hardware clients with a seamless, all-in-one watermark solution from a leader in forensic marking.”