The Internet Streaming Media Alliance
(ISMA), of which Apple is a member, has developed and published ISMA 1.0, an implementation specification designed to accelerate existing IETF and MPEG standards for streaming over the Internet. This will result in a fully open end-to-end chain of streaming rich media solutions for IP networks, according to ISMA.
Apple is part of the MPEG-4 Committee, as well as the ISMA. As such, they’re working to promote MPEG-4 solutions based on the standard specifications.
ISMA 1.0 is the first implementation specification developed by the ISMA, a group of industry leaders in content management, distribution infrastructure and media streaming working together to promote open standards for developing end-to-end media streaming solutions. ISMA 1.0 provides a step-by-step implementation agreement that enables compliant components to be interoperable between different ISMA-supported vendors in the rich media marketplace, according to Hans-Peter Baumeister, board member of the ISMA.
For this specification, the ISMA has defined two hierarchical profiles. The first, Profile 0, is aimed to stream audio/video content on wireless and narrow band networks to low complexity devices, such as cell phones or PDAs, that have limited viewing and audio capabilities. The second, Profile 1, is aimed to stream content over broadband quality networks to provide the end user with a richer viewing experience, Baumeister explained. Profile 1 is targeted to more powerful devices such as set-top boxes and personal computers.
“As a first in the streaming media industry, ISMA 1.0 will allow content creators, owners, distributors and aggregators to be able to choose products and solutions from different vendors, and thus tailor their systems purchases to their exact needs,” Baumeister said in announcing ISMA 1.0. “In addition, and also as a first in this industry, we can expect to see a truly competitive marketplace for streaming components and solutions, assuring continued improvements and innovation in this space.”
ISMA 1.0 leverages the current industry momentum of MPEG-4 by adopting it as the compression standard. The specification defines the exact features of the MPEG-4 standard that have to be implemented on the server, client and intermediate components to ensure interoperability between the entire streaming workflow. It also defines the exact features and the selected formats of the RTP, RTSP and SDP standards that have to be implemented.
One of the major focus areas for the ISMA is the definition of a comprehensive compliance and interoperability program, Baumeister said. The program is on track to be defined by the end of 2001 with ISMA compliant solutions being announced in the first quarter of 2002.
The broad industry participation in ISMA will allow the content industry to rapidly embrace the concept of “one standard — one encode,” regardless of the receiving platform and provide the assurance for the consumers that their investment in rich media streaming devices won’t be obsolete, Baumeister said.
Besides Apple, a founding member, other ISMA members incluce Cisco Systems, IBM, Kasenna, Philips, Sun, AOL Time Warner, Analog Devices, Bitband, Dolby Laboratories, Inktomi, iVast, Lucent Technologies, Macrovision, National Semiconductor, NeoMagic, ObjectVideo (formerly DiamondBack Vision), Oki Electric Industry, Optibase, PacketVideo, Serome Technology, Sigma Designs, SGI, Streaming21 and Thomson Multimedia.