By Chris Tribbey

San Diego-based Solekai — a software engineering design services company that specializes in the design, development, integration and testing of digital media and cloud software — in just the last few years has taken on a new focus: video formats and technology implementations for DASH and 4K.

Whether it’s been scalability testing for video formats for broadband providers, or streaming 4K video from a smartphone to a TV via Wi-Fi, the company is aiming to be a go-to for the all the videos needs of its clients.

Greg Jarvis, VP of sales digital media, sat down with the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance to discuss the changing face of digital video, the content security needs of content providers and how Solekai fits into the UltraViolet ecosystem.

MESA: For media and entertainment companies, what makes Solekai stand out in the area of software engineering design? What does Solekai offer that makes the company unique in the M&E space?
Jarvis: In a word, video. At the core of most our client projects is a connection to video files and streams; be that in formats, processing, testing and verification, players, security, etc. If a project is related to video, you can bet Solekai has the expertise. Systems to handle and process video are wide ranging, and Solekai’s software development expertise allows us to implement client projects from embedded systems and consumer electronics development like set-top-boxes, over–the-top delivery platforms, mobile video player and app development, to standards and verification testing.

MESA: From MPEG to 4K, what are some of the challenges Solekai has encountered in designing and testing streaming software for all the digital formats utilized today?
Jarvis: Much discussion has been around the network throughput (or lack thereof) necessary to deliver 4K video. For the past few years Solekai has been deeply involved in video formats and technology implementations for DASH and 4K. We’ve done scalability testing for various video formats for major broadband providers, which has helped us to lead the market in streaming technology solutions. In an interesting twist, Solekai recently did a project to stream 4K video from a smartphone to a smart TV over Wi-Fi. The intent was to all but eliminate the network as a bottleneck and tax low horsepower streaming sources (a smartphone) and receivers (a smart TV).  This effort certainly highlighted a point that beyond network throughput, there are other challenges from a technology perspective to work out.

MESA: On the digital broadcast side, Solekai has worked closely with DirecTV, TV Guide, TiVo and others to develop new technologies. What stands out with Solekai’s work in the digital broadcast (IPTV and satellite) space?
Jarvis: The way Internet technologies are looked at and used by major players is changing dramatically as we speak. Functionality that used to “obviously” belong on CPE like a set top box is now being moved to the cloud/server side. This includes some components that we all naturally thought would progress to the cloud like conditional access and subscriber management, but now other functionality such as a program guides as a video stream instead massive metadata dumps, personal DVR management and storage, or even different advertising techniques and overlays.

MESA: What was Solekai’s involvement in the development of UltraViolet, and what does Solekai offer for companies involved in Hollywood’s buy-once, play-anywhere digital content service?
 Jarvis: Solekai and DECE, which is a member consortium, have a rich and deep relationship. DECE chose Solekai to design and develop the Compliance Verification Program for UltraViolet over three years ago. Since its inception Solekai has been a “go to” vendor for technology development such as Common File Format (CFF) generation, verification suite and compliance services / testing tools, as well as overall management platforms and compliance documentation creation such as the member website and tracking system.  We continue to be an active contributor to the ongoing improvements and industry thought leadership coming from DECE/UltraViolet. Solekai has multiple past and ongoing projects with UltraViolet/DECE alliance members such as integration and general consulting services, which helps guide customers through the implementation process.

MESA: Content security is as important as ever when it comes to digital content delivery. How is Solekai addressing clients’ needs when it comes to digital media content security?
Jarvis: Although content security technologies have been fundamentally the same for a while now, the landscape for different providers, their business models and methods continues to change rapidly.  Just as we’ve thought through all the latest use cases, a new technology or technique (or sometimes just a business driver) comes along and requires a new implementation and deployment.  And as such, security quickly becomes the highest priority and most critical topic in the everyday life of a producer or distributor. This confusing landscape highlights an interesting and unique differentiator for Solekai. We have implemented such a large range of technologies and systems that our technology expertise and industry knowledge becomes an invaluable part of new projects and their success.  In some cases, Solekai has actually built technology components for those very providers.

MESA: Solekai’s software engineering design services seem to cover the gamut of digital media (covering everything from VOD to OTT to Embedded Consumer Electronics, from studio- to user-generated content). What challenges do Solekai engineers encounter today in streaming media delivery, in the areas of multi-screen distribution, second screen and TV Everywhere apps, and platform (iOS, Android, etc.) compatibility for digital content?
Jarvis: Solekai has made its name around deep technology expertise; and as such the projects our teams work on are at the core of what makes these platforms tick.  We understand and have delivered platforms that make the best use of the technologies for re-use, expansion and game changing new technological advances. Examples such as HTML5 players with DRM protection for use on multiple platforms, highly scalable video distribution and subsequent test harnesses, OTT services embedded into CE devices at the OS layer, ad splicing. A common challenge is technology and OTT service providers cannot excel at every aspect of end-to-end solution. Solekai is called to customize, integrate or even create from scratch some piece of the puzzle. What we see more often than one may think is projects that are in trouble or late, and the customer will come to us to get things on track ASAP — and with Solekai’s unique business model of project and subcontracting, we come in quickly to help out.