4-page Case Study
Posted: 11/21/2011
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Haier Group Haier Rapidly Develops Connected TV Using Windows Embedded Standard 7

Windows compatibility and development tools lead to rich application ecosystem

Connected TV sets that run applications and connect to the Web are starting to get a grip on the public’s imagination. Based on Windows Embedded Standard 7, Haier has developed the new K58M3000P Casarte Social Smart TV, which supports Flash 10.1, Blog, QQ, MSN, and more than 10,000 other applications. The Casarte Social Smart TV allows users to access the Internet, play games, and use social media, while watching TV, meeting consumer demand for a new world of personalized entertainment.

Situation

Best known for home appliance and other “white goods,” Haier specializes in technology research, manufacturing, trading, and financial services. A global titan, Haier’s 2010 global revenue was $20.9 billion (RMB 135.7 billion).

With increasingly intense competition in the home appliance market, Haier has found success by responding quickly to new consumer market trends with innovative products. In its search for high-growth markets, Haier recently started focusing on Connected TVs, also known as Smart TVs.

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* Thanks to the advantageous features provided by Windows Embedded Standard 7, the introduction of Casarte Social TV has become a milestone in the development of Smart TVs. This product is destined to become a central hub in our lives as an extension of social networking and other applications.*

Zhou Yuarwu
Chief Architect of Cloud Services of Casarte Social TV
Haier

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These devices embody the current trend of integrating advanced Internet and Web features, such as social media networks, into modern television sets and set-top boxes, as well as the convergence between computers and these television sets and set-top boxes to enable a new set of applications and functionality.

Haier wanted to launch a line of Smart TV products quickly to maintain its leading competitive position. Opportunities, however, are often accompanied by challenges. Haier’s color TV R&D group identified multiple issues and challenges as they planned the development of a Smart TV.

There are many choices for hardware and software in the specialized device market, so deciding how to choose a suitable platform can be a challenge. The Haier R&D team was looking for operating system stability, software and hardware compatibility, energy-saving features, and the flexibility to customize the finished product to meet consumer demands.

Haier was also seeking a stable software partner, one that can provide support and updates for an operating system for a long time, an attribute that is especially important for a connected TV that has a long customer shelf life.

Just as with a PC or smart phone, applications are indispensable for a Smart TV. Diversified applications may infinitely extend the functions of TV sets and bring more convenience to consumers. However, the development, testing, and delivery of an application can be a lengthy process.

Due to limited resources and an aggressive schedule from management, Haier’s R&D group could not assemble a special application development team. This might have led to a shortage of applications for the products at launch time, which would negatively impact sales volume. To solve the problem, Haier’s engineers needed an integrated environment of development tools that would enable them to work more efficiently and get a product to market quickly

Finally, Haier wanted to build an outstanding user experience with a customized interface. Current remote controls are not designed to meet the demand of Smart TV. For example, it is very difficult for users to input text for Internet surfing or instant messaging with remote controls. Haier’s R&D personnel wanted to develop a new operating experience for the Smart TV, one that would meet the demands of social networking and other applications.

Solution

After an analysis of the problems and challenges associated with developing a Smart TV, the R&D group began the design phase. During the mold selection stage, Haier’s R&D division carried out a detailed assessment of multiple mainstream embedded platforms on the market. As a long-term strategic partner of Haier, Microsoft, the world’s leading software supplier, recommended Windows Embedded Standard 7.

After careful comparison and tests, Haier chose Windows Embedded Standard 7 as the embedded platform for developing its new generation of Smart TV products. The decision was based on several factors.

First, Windows Embedded Standard 7 supported an extensive range of embedded hardware platforms and can therefore effectively avoid compatibility problems between software and hardware.

Second, Windows Embedded Standard 7 is easy to develop and customize into a unique and powerful user interface based on the latest technologies.



Finally, Windows Embedded Standard 7 includes a wider entertainment feature set than alternative embedded platforms. For example, it supports Windows Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, a customizable version of Windows Media Center, and Adobe Flash, making it easier to build and deploy a rich device experience to consumers.

Haier Casarte Smart TV
    Haier Casarte Smart TV

Windows Embedded Standard 7 is a modularized operating system, which allowed for deep customization. Haier’s R&D engineers were able to select the multimedia and networking components they needed, while eliminating unnecessary components. This approach enhanced the start-up speed of the TV set to provide the user with a better experience.

For application development, Haier chose to give its Smart TV an open application platform based on Windows Embedded technology. As a result, application development could be handled by independent software providers and network service providers. This was a key strategic decision because it allowed Haier to focus on its core competency of hardware manufacturing.

Recognizing the growing popularity of services like social networking, video-on-demand, and instant messaging, Haier wanted its Smart TV to appeal to as many user groups as possible. The open platform of Windows Embedded received a warm response from both domestic and foreign software providers and website operators.

For Haier’s partners, it is very easy and fast to develop applications for the Haier Smart TV. The Windows Embedded Standard 7 development environment is the same as that of desktop PC version of Windows.

Using Microsoft Visual Studio suite, many existing Windows PC applications could be rapidly converted to Windows Embedded Standard 7. Therefore, during the development of the TV hardware, software partners synchronously developed rich applications, speeding the overall time to market.

With the assistance from the Microsoft Embedded technical team, Haier quickly completed the design and molding of its next-generation television, formally named K58M3000P Casarte Smart Social TV.

This product has numerous hardware features that set new standards in the industry, including a pioneering 58-inch LED screen. The unique 21: 9 viewing ratio eliminates the black band at the top and bottom of traditional TV screens and truly brings television to the age of ultra-widescreen.

The Casarte Smart Social TV is the world’s first 4G 2560x1080 UDTV3D TV, with 33 percent higher resolution than Full HD TV, satisfying consumer demand for high-quality video. Moreover, Haier’s Casarte Smart Social TV also features the market-leading 3D Regza Engine, which allows the program menu to be shown in 3D to provide the consumers with an excellent visual experience.

All of these extraordinary features are examples of how Haier was able to concentrate on its core competency – hardware engineering – versus having to ramp up on software, thus saving engineering resources and time.

Benefits

The choice of Windows Embedded Standard 7 for the Haier Smart TV brought the following benefits for Haier and its partners:

Faster time to market

Windows Embedded Standard 7 enabled Haier to develop the Casarte Smart Social TV in four months.

As the core operating system of Casarte Smart Social TV, Windows Embedded Standard 7 supports an extensive range of off-the-shelf embedded hardware. Haier’s R&D division was able to select and combine components according to the design goals of products, which greatly reduced the period for mold selection and hardware compatibility testing.

Windows Embedded Standard 7 also integrates rich multimedia and network application components like Windows Media Center, digital audio effects, and Internet Explorer browser. This allowed software developers to directly apply these components for functions like playing and managing media files, or viewing web pages on the Smart TV, without extra development effort.

Time to market was further accelerated by the technical support provided by Microsoft’s team and online development communities such as MSDN and other embedded development communities. These rich development resources allowed Haier’s R&D team to easily develop customized functions.

In both hardware and software, Windows Embedded Standard 7 helped shorten the development cycle, and thus allowed Haier to launch its product to market in a short period and maintain its leading position among the intense market competition.

Familiar development environment

One of the highlights of Casarte Smart Social TV is its rich third-party applications. The familiar Windows development environment makes it simple to develop applications for this system.

The Application Programming Interface (API) for Windows Embedded Standard 7 is fundamentally the same as the standard Windows client API. This means application developers can build apps for Casarte Smart Social TV in the familiar Visual Studio environment, without extra training costs and time for developers.

Published applications for Windows Embedded, which include games, media, and network applications, can run directly on Haier’s Smart TV without modifying code or recoding. This enabled Haier to provide consumers with rich applications at the time of product launch, resulting in a win-win result for both Haier and its partners.

Today, the embedded Haier application store offers a diverse choice of innovative, smart applications covering video chat, photo albums, magazines, news services, web page viewers, and many others.

Confidence in long-term product support

Microsoft can provide Windows Embedded Standard 7 with technical support for as long as 10 years. Because TV sets are generally used for many years, Microsoft’s long-term technical support provides a powerful guarantee for Haier and its customers.

Rich and innovative user experience

Compared with traditional TV, the Casarte Smart Social TV provides consumers with a new entertainment experience that’s enabled by Windows Embedded technologies – allowing new user interactions, new functionality through the Internet, and ability to control/connect with other devices.

Benefiting from Windows Embedded Standard 7’s extensive support for peripheral devices, the operation of TV is no longer limited to remote control. Now consumers may control their Haier Smart TV, watch and record TV programs, and use applications with multiple mobile devices, such as tablet computers or mobile phones. Compared with a traditional remote control, these input methods are more flexible and help end users take advantage of the Smart TV’s extensive functions.

Additionally, the Casarte Smart Social TV enables Internet-based control of home appliances on a video/audio terminal for the first time. The TV based on Windows Embedded Standard 7 can monitor the operation of home appliances like air conditioners, washing machines, and refrigerators, providing the consumer with a full set of smart solutions.

Keywords: Connected Media Devices: Networked Digital Televisions

Windows Embedded

The Windows Embedded mission is to extend Windows and the cloud to the world of specialized devices. This mission is realized through our Windows Embedded family of products, providing built-in tools and technologies that our partners can use to quickly configure, build, and ship service-oriented devices that offer their customers an unparalleled connected experience. According to VDC Research, Windows Embedded ranks as the #1 share leader in the worldwide commercial embedded/real-time operating system market.

For more information visit: www.microsoft.com/embedded

For More Information

For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at(800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at(800) 892-5234 in the United States or (905) 568-9641 in Canada. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to: www.microsoft.com

For more information about Haier products and services, visit the Web site at:http://www.haieramerica.com/  

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Solution Overview



Organization Size: 70000 employees

Organization Profile

Haier Group is a global leader in white goods manufacturing and one of China’s most valuable brands. Haier has more than 70,000 employees throughout the world.


Business Situation

Haier wanted to develop a new device that would integrate the Internet and Web 2.0 features into a modern television set, but the company needed a software technology partner.


Solution

Windows Embedded Standard 7 provided Haier’s engineers with a stable, energy-efficient embedded operating system, as well as development tools and resources required to design an excellent user experience.


Benefits

  • Shortened R&D cycle
  • Compatible with thousands of applications
  • Personalized, rich user experience


Software and Services
  • Windows Embedded Standard 7
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010

Vertical Industries
High Tech & Electronics

Country/Region
China

Languages
English

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