Interviewed by Hartley Lesser, Editorial Director, SatNews Publishers
My initial contact with this company revolved around their planned hi-def coverage of the upcoming Volvo Ocean Race 2008, a broadcasting feat never before accomplished using satcom technology. Livewire Digital provides video store and forward, video streaming, SNG (satellite news gathering), communications for the maritime industries as well as for the military and government agencies and custom hardware and software solutions.
Tristan Wood is the Managing Director for the firm and is a specialist in communications and video distribution products for use over both satellite and terrestrial links. Tristan founded Livewire Digital in 1991 and he established healthy relationships with Inmarsat and other satellite service providers. His expertise covers maritime computer network installations that included security and communication solutions for maritime voice, live and store forward video as well as data comms.
Thanks for joining SatMagazine for this chat, Mr. Wood
we know some of the basics regarding your company from your website
what else should we know regarding Livewire Digital?
We are a leading provider of satellite communications solutions as well as a pioneer in the integral development of mobile communications, media distribution, and content gathering. Livewire Digital also undertakes R & D hardware and software contracts based on its expertise in terrestrial, satellite and wireless communications. Thats rather succinct and to the point but certainly covers a great deal of business territory.
Where is the company based?
Our offices are in Epsom, Surrey, United Kingdom, with strategic distribution partnerships in Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Australia, and Malaysia. By the way, Livewire Digital is privately owned, profitable, and, Im pleased to report, growing rapidly.
What markets do you address?
Our key markets are the media, maritime, military and other government services, exploration and construction, humanitarian and telecommunications. Livewire Digital supplies Remote News gathering equipment and services to the mainstream broadcasters. These include Reuters, APTN, TVE, RTL, Sky, BBC, CBS, and others. This equipment is also supplied to special interest groups and humanitarian organizations who wish to publicize an event.
All the of the United Kingdoms military forces (Army, Navy & Airforce) use our communications and video equipment, as do many other NATO forces. This extends to coastguard, search, and rescue.
Communications management products, such as the Service Selector, are supplied to cruise lines and luxury yachtsthe media related products for the high end yacht racing markets. Likewise, these products have applications in the exploration and construction markets.
The TCM telecommunications test equipment is used for the type approval of satellite terminals operating on the Inmarsat services, and supplied to HNS, Nera, Thrane & Thrane, EMS, JRC and so on.
What are your key products or applications?
Livewire Digital has products targeted at each of our market areas. In some cases, there is a lot of synergy between the different sectors. For example, the M-Link video product range has found application across all the markets areas, often customized to suit a specific requirement or to form part of a development project. Other products, such as the formal TTCN test tools, are aimed squarely at the telecommunications market.
Our experience with satcom has seen a range of interfacing and management products. This allows COTS equipment to be readily connected to such communications equipment. Some products have been developed specifically for a particular project or customer. An example of this would be the entire range of fully maritime-enabled HD cameras we have been developing for the Volvo Ocean Race. At that time, there was nothing else on the market that was compatible with such a race and the equipment involved. Our development involves, mechanical, electronic and software skill sets.
What are the current projects you are working on?
We have been contracted by the Volvo Ocean Race (formally Whitbread)for the fourth consecutive timeto provide the media systems for the yachts in their 9-month, around the world race. This will be starting on October 11th of this year. The race occurs along a 39,000 nautical mile track. South Africa, India, China, the Americas, and Europe are stopovers for the race.
The 2008-2009 race will see the move to HD (High Definition), which is technically incredibly challenging in such an extreme environment. The project will see the development of a range of HD cameras, including Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) and roll compensation plus special features such as the HD Delay Line.
The HD Delay Line offers the ability to maintain a rolling video cache. Should a dramatic event occur, such as the yachts mast breaking, any crewmember can hit one of a number of buttons situated around the vessel and that footage is recorded, capturing the unique event for distribution. The media system is inter-connected to a range of satellite terminals, offering optimized delivery of weather data and HD media back to Race Office. When handling the in-port racing, the media desk can be remotely controlled from shore. Live video feeds are transmitted to the host broadcaster via the on-board microwave system. Aboard each yacht will be a media specialist whose job it will be to record, edit and deliver on-board footage through our system.
The new system includes H.264 AVC (Advanced Video Compression) live video encoding for team interaction as well as Inmarsats high-speed maritime satellite services for high bandwidth media delivery.
Other large software projects include the development of a Radio Access Network (RAN) protocol stack for multicast services over BGAN. This is a development partially funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and partnerships with other companies. The goals of the project are the realization of a Micro-SAS (Satellite Access Station)) that can offer a private BGAN uni-cast and multi-cast enabled network for a closed user group. The Micro-SAS will have many applications, ranging from content delivery to a large user base (such as weather data), situation awareness, and Blue Force Tracking.
The RAN project sounds extremely interesting
who are you working with and what applications will be required for these IP multicast services?
The consortium includes Inmarsat, EMS, LogicaCMG, Gatehouse and, of course, Livewire Digital. We are responsible for the actual implementation of the RAN. This is the kernel component that models the IAI2 protocols as well as the resource allocation algorithms at the Satellite Access Station (SAS). As far as the key applications are concerned, they include netted voice (push to talk net radio), situational awareness provisions, netted data services as well as weather and chart updates.
Indeed, there are exciting times ahead for your company, Tristan. Thanks for speaking with us. And for our readers who may like to obtain more information regarding the Volvo Ocean Race, visit: