The doctoral dissertations of the former Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and Aalto University Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI) published in electronic format are available in the electronic publications archive of Aalto University - Aaltodoc.

A Graphics Software Architecture for High-End Interactive TV Terminals

Pablo Cesar

Dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering for public examination and debate in Auditorium T2 at Helsinki University of Technology (Espoo, Finland) on the 9th of December, 2005, at 12 noon.

Overview in PDF format (ISBN 951-22-7888-X)   [1631 KB]
Dissertation is also available in print (ISBN 951-22-7887-1)


This thesis proposes a graphics architecture for next-generation digital television receivers. The starting assumption is that in the future, a number of multimedia terminals will have access through a number of networks to a variety of content and services. One example of such a device is a media station capable of integrating different kinds of multimedia objects such as 2D/3D graphics and video, reacting to user interaction, and supporting the temporal dimension of applications. Some of the services intended for these devices include, for example, games and enhanced information over broadcasted video.

First, this thesis provides an overview of the digital television environment, focusing on the limitations of current receivers and hints at future directions. In addition, this thesis compares different solutions from regional standardisation bodies such as DVB, CableLabs, and ARIB. It proposes the adoption of the most relevant initiative, GEM by DVB. Unfortunately, GEM software middleware only considers Java language as an authoring format, meaning that the declarative environment and advanced functionalities (e.g., 3D graphics support) remain to be standardised.

Because in the future different user groups will have different demands with regard to television, this thesis identifies two major extensions to the GEM standard. First, it proposes a declarative environment for GEM that takes into account W3C standardisation efforts. This environment is divided into two configurations: one capable of rendering limited interactive applications such as information services, and another intended for more demanding applications, for example a distance learning portal that synchronises videos of lecturers and slides. Second, this thesis proposes to extend the procedural environment of GEM with 3D graphics support. The potential services of this new profile, High-End Interactive, include games and commercials.

Then, based on the requirements the proposed profiles should meet, this thesis defines a graphics architecture model composed of five layers. The hardware abstraction layer is in charge of rendering the final graphics output. The graphical context is a cross-platform abstraction of the rendering region and provides graphics primitives (e.g., rectangles and images). The graphical environment provides the means to control different graphical contexts. The GUI toolkit is a set of ready-made user interface widgets and layout schemes. Finally, high-level languages are easy-to-use tools for developing simple services.

The thesis concludes with a report of my experience implementing a digital television receiver based on the proposals described. In addition to testing the application of the proposed graphics architecture to the design and implementation of a next-generation digital television receiver, the implementation permits the analysis of the requirements of such receivers and of the services they can provide.

This thesis consists of an overview and of the following 9 publications:

  1. G. Sivaraman, P. Cesar, and P. Vuorimaa. System software for digital television applications. In: Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Multimedia and Expo, Tokyo, Japan, August 22-25, 2001, pages 784-787. © 2001 IEEE. By permission.
  2. C. Peng, P. Cesar, and P. Vuorimaa. Integration of applications into digital television environment. In: Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Distributed Multimedia Systems, Taipei, Taiwan, September 26-28, 2001, pages 266-272. © 2001 Knowledge Systems Institute. By permission.
  3. P. Cesar and P. Vuorimaa. A graphical user interface framework for digital television. In: Proceedings of the 10th WSCG International Conference in Central Europe on Computer Graphics, Visualization, and Computer Vision, Plzen, Czech Republic, February 4-8, 2002, pages 1-4. © 2002 WSCG. By permission.
  4. K. Pihkala, P. Cesar, and P. Vuorimaa. Cross-platform SMIL player. In: Proceedings of the 1st IASTED International Conference on Communications, Internet and Information Systems, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, November 18-20, 2002, pages 48-53. © 2002 International Association of Science and Technology for Development (IASTED). By permission.
  5. J. L. Lamadon, P. Cesar, C. Herrero, and P. Vuorimaa. Usages of a SMIL player in digital television. In: Proceedings of the 7th IASTED International Conference on Internet and Multimedia Systems and Applications, Honolulu, Hawaii, August 13-15, 2003, pages 579-584. © 2003 International Association of Science and Technology for Development (IASTED). By permission.
  6. C. Herrero, P. Cesar, and P. Vuorimaa. Delivering MHP applications into a real DVB-T network, Otadigi. In: Proceedings of the 6th IEEE International Conference on Telecommunications in Modern Satellite, Cable, and Broadcasting Services, Nis, Serbia and Montenegro, October 1-4, 2003, pages 231-234. © 2003 IEEE. By permission.
  7. M. Honkala, P. Cesar, and P. Vuorimaa. A device independent XML user agent for multimedia terminals. In: Proceedings of the 6th IEEE International Symposium on Multimedia Software Engineering, IEEE-MSE2004, Florida, Miami, USA, December 13-15, 2004, pages 116-123. © 2004 IEEE. By permission.
  8. P. Cesar, J. Vierinen, and P. Vuorimaa. Open graphical framework for interactive TV. International Journal on Multimedia Tools and Applications, 2006. Springer, formerly Kluwer Academic, in print.
  9. P. Cesar, P. Vuorimaa, and J. Vierinen. A graphics architecture for high end interactive television terminals. ACM Transactions on Computing Multimedia, Communications, and Applications. ACM, submitted for publication.

Keywords: digital TV, software architecture, GEM, MHP, XML, 3D graphics, OpenGL

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© 2005 Helsinki University of Technology

Last update 2011-05-26