NexGuard watermarking hops into Sonifi OTT hospitality app

Kudelski’s forensic watermarking subsidiary NexGuard has won a deployment with US content connectivity provider Sonifi Solutions, to secure a new OTT VoD app for the hospitality industry. Given the distinct lack of competitors in this space, NexGuard has scope for sweeping millions of hotel guests with its forensic watermarking technology.

Hospitality brings in big bucks, and with more and more hotels switching out their legacy entertainment systems in place of OTT video offerings, this calls for more intelligent watermarking systems to keep pace with the security requirements of the major studios. This brings us full circle to a point we brought up a few weeks ago – that we can only point to three companies which offer forensic watermarking technologies.

Unless there is a surprise late entrant, the riches will be split by NexGuard, Verimatrix and ContentArmor. That said, a late entrant would have to pull off a miracle to not get tripped up by multiple patent infringement actions.

This week’s deal will see NexGuard supply its streaming session-based forensic watermarking system to Sonifi, to comply with the delivery of Hollywood content to hotel guests – by embedding an invisible, but robust, watermark in the content. Studio security requirements are becoming increasingly scrupulous by the day, and Sonifi claims to provide for more than 500 million guests a year – meaning a rather high chance of attempts at illegal copying. More to the point hotels guests have plenty of money to spend on 4K movie content, which Movielabs has said must have watermarking protection.

The announcement doesn’t detail exactly how many hotels the new OTT VoD app will be deployed to, or how many estimated users there will be. We have reached out to NexGuard and parent company Nagra, and will update our readers if any additional information is provided.

We suspect this is a bring your own device OTT system, rather than a hardware specific one, although it might apply to both Hotel Smart TVs and customers phones.

Watermarking is vital for reliably identifying the source of individual streams which are found on the internet. They are found using fingerprinting, which captures snippets of the video for first line confirmation that it is copyrighted content. Any copyrighted content found on the web, is then reviewed for a watermark to identify its source. The watermarking tells us where it came from and watermarks are written into the content at the encoding level, the CDN, and the device it plays on and can be read from any copy found in the wild, and its route to market clearly identified.

Last week Samsung Electronics America announced it is teaming up with Sonifi Solutions to provide an integrated in-room technology bundle for the hospitality industry. The duo are offering hotels any Samsung Hospitality TV with Samsung Lynk Reach 4.0 Content Management Solution and Sonifi StayCast streaming solution – powered by Chromecast and integrated into Samsung’s UI.

At NAB earlier this year, NexGuard said it will launch its secure File Delivery system which has watermarking in it, to protect the transport of content to distributors and operators just before release, when it says it is at its most vulnerable and valuable.

NexGuard said this product was created in response to a growing threat of pre-release piracy, and it will enable studios, broadcasters and content owners to protect high-value content assets prior to final distribution to the consumer. The technology allows for watermarking during one-to-many file delivery, through a two-step watermarking process that enables the final watermarking step to be completed on-the-fly as part of the delivery process.

NexGuard has integrated it with the popular IBM Aspera FASP protocol which it claims is more efficient in large file delivery than TCP, and which is often used for video file delivery at high speed usually up at around 40 Gbps.

Sonifi’s VP User Experience & Product Management, Kara Heermans, said, “hotel guests expect access to a variety of entertainment to enhance their stay. To enable our customers to offer the best and broadest content catalog, we needed to satisfy the security expectations of our studio partners. NexGuard forensic watermarking provided a robust and easy-to-integrate solution that fits with our platform architecture.”