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September 1, 2003

Zentek Technology, Agfa Monotype's collaboration

From: Indian Television, India - Sep 1, 2003 Team

(1 September 2003 2:00 pm)

Zentek Technology Group in partnership with Agfa Monotype has announced the commercial availability of a modular, portable, closed-captioning package that meets the FCC-mandated EIA 708B standard for digital television.

The integrated solution aims to enhance the accessibility services that digital television broadcasters and network operators provide to the deaf and hard-of-hearing population in the US and Canada.

An official release informs that this collaborative effort includes closed-caption fonts; a font engine, programme and system information protocol (PSIP) software - that will simplify what is otherwise a custom-built and costly process for digital set-top box and television manufacturers. The software package already has been licensed to STMicroelectronics a manufacturer of integrated circuits for set-top boxes.

According to market research firm InStat/MDR the global market for digital television sets is expected reach 58 million by 2007, with US consumers accounting for more than half of all annual shipments. This growing market includes 28 million hearing-impaired Americans (roughly 10 per cent of the US population), creating a substantial market opportunity and need for digital closed-captioning services.

Zentek has stated that together with its partners it is providing a critical technology for the hearing-impaired community. The company's 708B solution, which is a part of its MediaStack family of digital products, incorporates legacy 608 analog caption support. It also includes the intelligence to display closed captioning in multiple languages simultaneously. This feature is important in an ethnically diverse country such as the US.

Zentek has added that the lab and field testing that has been completed will help many digital set-top box and television manufacturers bring competitive digital television products to market with reduced software integration risk and cost.

The integrated Zentek solution is a full implementation of EIA 708B and allows the viewer to change all available properties of the displayed text: font style, character size, foreground and background colour and edge effect.

For example, a hard-of-hearing viewer, who also has impaired vision, can use the caption "volume control" to adjust the size of the displayed text to make it more readable. Multiple active windows also are supported thus enabling a hard-of-hearing parent to view normal captions while a child watches early-reader captions in a separate window.

Agfa Monotoype has said that in terms of text display, one of the most important benefits for users resulting from the EIA 708B mandate is choice. Through the company's closed-caption fonts and iType(R) font engine, users with hearing disabilities are able to easily choose from a selection of seven highly legible, quick-to-display fonts, display sizes and font colours.

The pre-integrated package also includes PSIP digital channel mapping technology required by the Advanced Television Systems Committee for the US market. PSIP simplifies consumer navigation of new digital television channels. Zentek's commercial PSIP implementation also supports the delivery of broadcaster analogue channel branding, accurate time-of-day displays and announcements of caption services.

Zentek develops software and provides engineering services for the digital consumer electronics market with a focus on two areas: digital television and mobile digital devices. The company claims to have pioneered mobile device emulation tools that shorten product development cycles.

Agfa Monotype specialises in fonts and font technologies for graphic professionals, software developers and manufacturers of printers and display devices. The company also provides printer drivers, imaging technologies and integration services for OEMs.

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