Details Emerge on NextshareTV P2P Box

The European P2P Next consortium will unveil a set-top box prototype that allows P2P streaming at the IBC conference in Amsterdam tomorrow. The device goes by the name of NextshareTV and has been developed at the Pioneer Digital Design Centre in London. NextshareTV makes use of some of the open-source P2P streaming technology of the Swarm Player, which was introduced by the P2P Next project just two months ago.

The idea of bringing P2P to set top boxes isn’t entirely new. Vudu is using progressive P2P downloads to deliver content to its boxes, and the Chinese P2P operator Vatata recently announced that its distributed streaming video service will be available on set-top boxes as well. NextshareTV one-ups these platforms by offering social elements, allowing its users tag and share content.

The P2P Next project was unable to provide us with any official photos of the set-top box or screenshots of the platform it is running. Part of the problem seems to be that €14 million in public funding, the participation of large public broadcasters and the notorious secrecy of computer electronics manufacturers don’t really seem to make for a very transparent mix when it comes to prototypes of potential products.

However, we were able to unearth a few more details from various sources around the web. Torrentfreak is reporting that the device is based on a 266MHz processor with 128 MB of RAM. The BBC’s Flickr stream contains a photo of the actual box that is going to be introduced tomorrow.

The press release itself refers to the Nextshare platform, which seems to be the software running on this box. Turns out Nextshare has its own web site that offers a few more details about its social features, promising users the ability to “tag and share channels or exact moments with friends” as well as “interact and personalize” the distributed content.

Nextshare is being developed for set top boxes as well as PCs, and researchers at the Lancaster University are preparing a “large-scale technical trial” of the system with “a wide variety of users, from local students to rural villagers”, according to a University paper. Pioneer confirmed earlier that it is building its set-top box for trials like this one, and we hear that there will be a trial with several hundred NextshareTV boxes.