Media Innovation Lab to Demo Public-Safety Applications
Tuesday, September 24, 2019 | Comments

WKAR Public Media, Michigan State University and the College of Communication Arts and Sciences opened the NextGen Media Innovation Lab last week. The new lab will explore applications of the newest television broadcasting standard, ATSC 3.0 technology, including public-safety applications.

The groups received an experimental license last year from the FCC. Combining the capabilities of broadcast technology and high-speed internet, ATSC 3.0 offers broadcasters a way to distribute highly customized, accessible and interactive content over the airwaves. The technology allows audiovisual broadcasts to be customized by geographic location and displayed with multiple screens, simultaneously providing television, mobile applications and targeted messaging to customers on one device.

“NextGen TV holds transformational opportunities for public media and how we approach our public-safety and education missions,” said Fred Engel, senior director of technology for UNC-TV North Carolina. “In particular, UNC-TV believes this technology can save lives, by allowing us to alert public-safety first responders far more quickly and with far greater detail than we’re able to do now. The creation of this lab highlights WKAR’s commitment to cutting-edge research, and UNC-TV is proud to share that commitment.”

Because data can be delivered alongside traditional television content via a free, over-the-air broadcast signal, the technology can also reach underserved populations and people who live in rural areas. The Trifecta Initiative, a health research collaboration between the colleges of engineering, nursing and communication arts and sciences, held a challenge in the spring to collect innovative ideas to leverage the capabilities of ATSC 3.0.

The NextGen Media Innovation Lab is open for collaboration, research and development. Faculty, staff, students and partners will be further exploring ideas for innovation and creating some of the first applications for NextGen TV.

“The demonstrations at the new lab — showcasing public-safety emergency alerting and innovations in education, virtual reality and gaming — are a promising glimpse of an exciting future for every public television station in America, as the next-gen ATSC 3.0 broadcast standard is adopted in other markets,” said Lonna Thompson, executive vice president, chief operating officer and general counsel of America’s Public Television Stations (APTS).

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