Pioneer recently announced a prototype set-top box that supports BitTorrent streaming. The device already caught the attention of the BBC, as it opens up the possibility for TV-networks to offer their content via the Internet without having to spend millions of dollars on bandwidth bills.
The new device from Pioneer R&D is still in the prototype phase, but it has the potential to change the future of TV. It is developed within the P2P-Next project, which is sponsored by the European Union, and includes partners such as the BBC and other TV-broadcasters.
The P2P technology inside the box is Open Source software, and allows the user to stream live content via BitTorrent (picture here, via NTV). Broadcasters will be able to stream to thousands of people, using around the same amount of bandwidth they would use to stream to one or two people. Recent tests have shown that it’s possible to offer high quality video via BitTorrent, which might change how on-demand TV is broadcast.
During a tutorial session at the P2P 2008 conference, Mark from Pioneer presented the new device, and said: “By leveraging the next generation of P2P networking technology, Pioneer is taking steps to bring scalable TV broadcasting and vast on-demand media collections into the Living room.”
The device is 4th generation P2P, which means that it doesn’t use central servers to distribute or moderate the content. Pioneer, nevertheless, made it clear that it will only be possible to access legitimate content with their box “Access to a vast range of on-demand content and broadcast TV in High Definition over the Open Internet is becoming more believable with the integration of 4G P2P technologies into consumer devices,” Mark said.
Worth mentioning, is that the box runs on a 266MHz processor with just 128MByte of RAM. By doing so, Pioneer has set a new standard for what a low-cost processor can deliver using BitTorrent. Several European TV broadcasters are watching the project closely, and we expect to see some consumer trials with this new BitTorrent box in the future.