Sky selects international partners to develop new Sky Box components
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Development of Sky’s new hybrid set top box is progressing at pace, with the selection of international partners to advance various components of the new Sky Box.

The new Sky Box is expected to be in customers’ homes by the middle of 2022 and is part of Sky’s strategy to be the primary entertainment provider in New Zealand homes.

The hybrid box will combine both satellite and internet technology to bring the best in high quality video and audio to every connected home in New Zealand. It will combine the reliability of satellite TV with the flexibility of internet-delivered on-demand content and streaming apps and create a customised experience to suit customers’ future viewing needs.

Having selected Google’s Android TV Operator Tier as the operating system for the new box, Sky has now selected Wyplay, Irdeto, Kaonmedia and Universal Electronics (UEI) as partners to develop components of both the Sky Box’s software and hardware.

Sky Chief Executive Sophie Moloney says: “We are excited to be evolving our Sky Box to give customers an even better viewing experience and using innovative technology to meet their future needs as well as attracting new customers.

“Feedback from our customers has been at the heart of the Sky Box development programme from day one, and these new partnerships with Wyplay, Irdeto, Kaonmedia and UEI will allow us to deliver on what matters most to customers for the new box.”

Sky has selected internationally-recognised middleware software company Wyplay as its primary set top box system integrator.  Wyplay is responsible for managing the complexity of the Android TV hybrid platform for the different partners in the development of the Sky Box, including Sky, Irdeto and Kaonmedia.

Wyplay is also responsible for the core digital video broadcasting software stack, with middleware to sit on Android TV to provide satellite channel tuning functionality and personal video recording management.

Wyplay CEO Jacques Bourgninaud said they were proud to have been selected following the completion of work with Sky that helped shape the end-to-end solution and benchmark it on the market.

“We were able to stand out because of our ability to complete similar projects and our extensive knowledge of the technologies used by Sky.”

Sky has partnered with Kaonmedia to design and build the hybrid set top box hardware, integrating the Android TV operating system and pre-installed apps. It includes a one terabyte hard drive for recording content.  

The new hardware will give Sky customers access to a complete suite of Sky entertainment and sport content, as well as many more Android TV applications from the Google Play Store.

 The new box has integrated Wi-Fi 6 technology to accommodate the best wireless connection for seamless 4K video streams, and eight tuners for connection to a Satellite receiver for free-to-air channels and Irdeto-encrypted programs.

A Bluetooth remote control from Universal Electronics with embedded microphones will also allow a subscriber to use voice search for content on their Sky Box.

Kaonmedia Asia Pacific Executive Vice President John Chung Yoon said: “We are extremely proud of Kaonmedia’s ability to innovate and combine the latest technologies to offer a powerful product to Sky New Zealand and its customers.”

Sky has selected Irdeto, the world leader in digital platform security, as its security partner.

Irdeto will provide Sky with Cloaked CA – the most widely deployed and advanced cardless conditional access system for broadcast and IPTV operators worldwide - as the core security technology to protect its content. Android TV Security components from Irdeto such as watermarking and fingerprinting will be deployed to further protect Sky’s content.

Irdeto will deploy and operate a fully scalable cloud-based solution for Sky’s conditional access platform.

Sky will also implement Irdeto App Watch for Android TV – an award-winning solution that will ensure the integrity of the apps running on the new Sky Box while reaping the benefits that the Android TV platform brings. It also gives oversight and targeted control of the apps on the Sky Box, allowing Sky to take steps to restrict problematic apps and plug-ins.

Irdeto COO of Video Entertainment Shane McCarthy said: “There is huge demand for premium content services in New Zealand and in an increasingly competitive global market, it is crucial for operators to not only meet the security requirements for premium content but also look for smarter ways to run their operations. Sky New Zealand’s decision to partner with us is testament to the fact that Sky New Zealand is proactive in addressing market developments and, as a trusted security partner, we are looking forward to working together on many future deployments.”

Sky has selected UEI to provide the remote control for the new Sky Box.

UEI is the world’s leading supplier of remote-control units and control technology for entertainment and smart home devices and has supplied more than 140 million voice remotes to pay-TV operators globally.

Sky worked with customers and UEI to design an evolved remote control that maintained key layout and navigation characteristics to make the change as seamless as possible for Sky customers.

The remote will be Sky’s first that is voice capable, simplifying customers’ viewing experience through voice commands and increasing accessibility for users who are blind or low vision.

The new remote control is also both Infrared and Bluetooth Low Energy capable – no line of sight is required via Bluetooth, providing an improved customer experience.

Kuldip Johal, UEI VP Video Service Providers said: “UEI is excited to be selected by Sky as a trusted partner to provide a great user experience for control of their new Sky Box.

“Sky New Zealand understands an easy-to-use remote control is an integral part of an intuitive user experience. UEI is very glad to be partnering with Sky New Zealand on a voice remote that strikes the right balance between simplicity and sophistication, unlocks all functionality of Sky’s service, and complements the set-top box’s minimalist aesthetic.

“Our knowledge in Android TV and voice control integration, combined with our outstanding industrial design skills and unique QuickSet technology, made this a perfect fit.”