Movie-on-Demand Delivery System

by Phil Hughes

For our first project, we have a big one. It was inspired by a friend who works at a hotel. The hotel is looking into new systems that offer in-room movies. One proposal included a system that allows guests to select a movie for viewing and then gives them local control to view the movie over a six-hour period. In other words, much like a Tivo set-top box, they can pause, rewind and replay.

This differs from other systems that just allow them to queue up and watch one of the available copies of the movie from a central system. In addition to these movies, the system would provide typical in-hotel offerings including guest services, shopping, Internet access and TV. Typical second-tier menus would include billing, hotel facilities, phone numbers, TV channel listings, city guide and shopping.

Additional services could include music-on-demand, airline schedules, video conferencing, distance learning, message service, wake-up services and pay-per-view events. The design would need to be such that adding new services would be simple.

To get you started, the design needs to include:

  • A central server with all the movies on it. It would need accounting built-in to bill the guests and keep track of movie usage.

  • Fast Ethernet to the rooms.

  • Systems in the room with enough storage to store a movie and allow local control over its playback. Basically, like a Tivo with the addition of a ``delete/disable at a particular time'' time limit.

Questions that need to be addressed include:

  1. How many rooms could one server handle?

  2. How do you integrate multiple servers to handle a large hotel?

  3. How are movies supplied to in-hotel systems, and how does this system support that format?

  4. How are movie licensing and royalties handled?

  5. How long to download a movie to a room?

  6. Could you start playback before the download was complete?

  7. What is available commercially today and what does it cost?

  8. What other functionality can be added (local guides, ads, ...)?

Submit proposals by January 10, 2000. The best way to do this is send ASCII text to [email protected] Our team will evaluate proposals as we receive them and display proposal status on our web site. The winning proposal will be announced in the April 2001 issue of Embedded Linux Journal.
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