Cable technologists are facing pressure to ensure their networks and in-home experiences include compelling and intuitive access to the most content possible on as many devices as possible, while relying on the limiting capabilities of deployed set-top boxes (STBs). Guides for cable systems are generally restricted to the abilities of the least capable STB deployed, due to the increased effort it takes to integrate and support variants of the user interface (UI) across many STB types. Thus the guide is often overlooked in favor of limiting the integration effort.
This paper will present technology considerations for decoupling the guide appearance (skin) from the underlying STB architecture, such that updates and re-skins of the user experience can be quickly achieved and optimized for the STBs on which they are running. Adopting this service layer approach also enables the operator to move some of the complex UI features, such as search, from the limiting processing environment of the STB to the headend, simplifying the STB integration further. Migrating the guide functionality from the STB to the headend not only extends the capabilities of the STB, but also provides a centralized architecture for supporting companion guides and services on consumer purchased devices, such as PCs, iPads, etc.