Linux4.TV Contest

by Don Marti

Just because it's a TV-based device doesn't mean our finalists are catering to their inner couch potato. Using the Linux4.TV platform, they plan to interrogate suspects, run AI security systems in their homes, teach distance education classes and rock out in the home studio.

Everyone needs to relax sometime, though, so other projects will help with more slothful pursuits, such as ordering pizza, playing video games and shopping on-line for music.

Best of luck to our finalists. In addition, the Linux4.TV site has been updated for the occasion, with new software to download and a subscription form for a developer mailing list. So even if you didn't win this time, you can follow the list for information on how this software might work in your next embedded project.

The Linux Centertainment System

Gerry Normandin, Jr. (

The Linux Centertainment System will be a DVD player and a game console for SDL games. The user also will have the ability to watch video feeds from different parts of the house and record any intruder activity. The USB ports will be used to handle a game controller and an X-10 camera.

Session Initiation Protocol User Agent

Wilson Tang (

This project will add VoIP to the set-top box to let users communicate with telephones and cellular phones. It will implement the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), a signaling protocol developed to set up, modify and tear down multimedia sessions over the Internet. [For more on SIP see page 42 of this issue.]

Project Entertainment Integration

John Needham (

This project will include a DVD recorder/player, an individual recording device with TiVo-like functionality and a 5.1 Dolby Digital stereo unit in one box. A Pioneer DVD-A03 DVD recorder will be used in the prototype.

Simple Security System

Charles Gales (

This security system will provide continuous camera monitoring and recording, automatic building entry authorization, automatic intrusion detection and other security items. Face recognition may be added, and multiple systems will be operated from one central location.


Michael S. Quicquaro (mquicquaro@SNET.Net)

TvPhone will be an open-source software project aimed at integrating speakerphone capabilities with the television audio system and a microphone. It will automatically pause streamed media or live TV, DVD, CD or MP3 play if you answer the phone, then automatically resume when you hang up.


Pavel Tkatchouk (

The TVRelay Project will support relaying TV data from one geographical location to another. The Linux4.TV developer kit can be used to capture and compress a TV feed at the point of its availability and send it to remote location via broadband Internet, where it can then be decompressed and scheduled for viewing. The project will work autonomously, according to a preprogrammed schedule, and allow remote monitoring, configuration and control.

Local Media Set-Top

John Kleven and Mark Clifton (

This device will browse and play media files stored on any network-attached home computer and will enable listening to MP3 audio in the living room with the best speakers and amp in the house; watching downloaded MPEG video files on the sofa in the living room with a 32-inch television instead of a 17-inch monitor; and displaying family vacation pictures to guests seated comfortably in the living room, all using a large-screen television instead of a computer monitor.

Multimedia Asset Management Systems for Embedded Systems

Frank TeohB> ( and Teck Chew (

This project will build a relational database for multimedia asset management to enable multimedia content delivery and management on mobile phones and other wireless devices.

Music on Demand

Dennis Fleming, Jim Lavery and Morgan Woodson (

The basic application will provide the user with a list of music available to play or order. Authentication, encryption and payment transactions will be simulated to begin with, but can be added later.

SHAWM--SetTop Home Audio Workstation for Musicians

Stephen R. Savitzky (

This project is a multipurpose device designed primarily for use in a home studio. In addition to high-quality multitrack recording (to local or networked storage), SHAWM plays a guide track (MP3-encoded to reduce bandwidth) and displays lyrics, chords, sheet music or even video, while recording a soundtrack on either a monitor, an ordinary TV or a heads-up display. It could also be used during performance, allowing live recording while displaying lyrics and possibly playing prerecorded drum or other backup parts.

Because the Geode is a low-power processor, and because the built-in high-speed networking allows the use of network-attached storage, the device can be totally silent. This means it can be within arm's reach of the musician without leaking noise onto the recording. The ability to drive NTSC video will be used; small TVs are inexpensive and take up less space in a crowded studio (or stage) than a full-sized VGA display.

Unified Media Terminal

Ryan Wahle (

The UMT will be an all-in-one, set-top box that combines a voice answering machine, a visual caller ID (while watching TV), internet browsing, specialty non-web-based internet functions, such as ordering pizza and on-line shopping, and standard personal video recorder functions. UMT will utilize the video-capture functionality to watch video input and to do special video effects, like zoom and freeze-frame shots.

Sega Dreamcast ``Rebirth'' Add-on Device

M. R. Brown ( and Julia Longtin (

This device will combine the Sega Dreamcast 3-D gaming experience with the versatility of the National Geode SP1SC10 STB. It will allow users to have the best of both worlds--a proven gaming platform coupled with advanced multimedia capabilities. In short, it turns the Dreamcast into a full-bodied set-top platform and the Geode SP1SC10 into a high-performance game console.

The Lin-PVA Project

Laurent Michalkovic (

Do you turn on the TV first or check your e-mail? The Lin-PVA will let you do both on the same platform, as it mixes live TV programs with customized user alerts for things like new e-mail, appointments for the day and news headlines.

Home Surveillance System

Dr. Jacky Baltes (

The goal of this project is to incorporate the Linux4.TV system into a cheap, efficient and robust home surveillance system. It will detect ``interesting'' events from video cameras, based on a supervised learning system, as well as statistical analysis of the input stream.

After an interesting event has been detected by the system, a timestamp is added to the video stream; the raw video stream is then compressed and watermarked to prove the authenticity of the video stream in court, if needed.

Law Enforcement Video Recording System (LEVRS)

Peter N. McMeekan (

Police departments have a need to record interviews accurately. Some have video recording systems, while others use audio recordings. The Law Enforcement Video Recording System will record, store and play back witness and suspect interviews. Other possible uses include remote surveillance, mobile video recording and real-time remote monitoring.

By using a digital storage device, the video can be streamed to workstations on a LAN. This allows for real-time monitoring of an interview by additional law enforcement personnel, without filling a small interview room with people. Interviews also can be transferred to a network storage array and archived on CD.

Distance Education Device

Jason Erickson (

The Distance Education (DE) device will demonstrate the use of a set-top box as an educational training tool. It will combine video with the communication capabilities and intractability of a computer device to allow a unified and enhanced learning environment.

Choice of Programmable DVD Player or Video-Based Security System

Nathan Melanson (

This finalist submitted two qualifying proposals. One would develop a DVD player that is user-programmable via menus and/or scripts to allow movie showings at specified times to be displayed with subtitles, or not, or in alternate languages.

The other would implement a video-based security system with the ability to control electronic door locks. Several video cameras will be attached, using both the video in and the USB port, to provide coverage for all areas of the building. Electronic door locks and magnetic card readers, controlled over the serial port, will control access into the space.

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