Is it true that broadcast standards are an impediment to TV innovation?  Sometimes I think global standards, when monopolizing a technology, have a lifecycle that is tied to manufacturing. It usually takes at least five years for a large company to benefit from a re-tooling of a manufacturing facility. Obviously, for fast-moving software companies, five years may as well be decades.  I’ve known people who have developed a concept, raised financing, hired a team, built a product, and sold that new product in less than a year. What value do standards have in this environment?

I’ve seen a lot of concern around this issue before and recently ran into this article that laments the same issue.  I’m not sure this is entirely true.  TV’s have become more general computing platforms and are now able to evolve along a more aggressive software development cycle.  Your smart TV can get smarter just by downloading better software.

Besides, standards not only provide a way of determining if a product/service is manufactured with an acceptable level of quality, but they also allow both small and large companies to work together by exploiting the agreed-upon standard.  I recently had a conversation with someone from Samsung regarding how we might work together.  The answer was simple: utilize standards that already exist.  Our software developers would only have to commit to writing software according to an agreed-upon standard, and little-old-Mersive could directly connect its products to an international leader in multimedia products.  Pretty cool.

That being said, media standards also have a tendency to get in the way of innovation when they are too strict or remain unnecessarily stagnant (more nefarious parties can hold standards stagnant to level the playing field for their own stagnant products). They can force companies or organizations to forego their creative or innovative approaches to product design and development and succumb to the approaches that the standard dictates.

So as with all things, standards cut both ways. It is important to at least acknowledge when you decide to go against a standard or adopt it.  This is a particularly important decision when you’re a small company like Mersive.

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About Christopher Jaynes

Jaynes received his doctoral degree at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst where he worked on camera calibration and aerial image interpretation technologies now in use by the federal government. Jaynes received his BS degree with honors from the School of Computer Science at the University of Utah. In 2004, he founded Mersive and today serves as the company's Chief Technology Officer. Prior to Mersive, Jaynes founded the Metaverse Lab at the University of Kentucky, recognized as one of the leading laboratories for computer vision and interactive media and dedicated to research related to video surveillance, human-computer interaction, and display technologies.

1 Comment for this entry

  • Ashok Sharma
    October 17th, 2012

    I think we first understand the need for having standards. The intension of having the standard is to ensure most of the stakeholders can meet the standards. The standards may not be very but ensure that 80-85% vendors can meet the standards. These standards are periodicaly upgraded as the stakeholder improve thier standards.
    Standards are not for inovators but for mass implementation to improve overall standards of particular industry,

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