Published: 09.47 Europe/London, April 4, 2011

Cabot Communications has launched the Robotester, a new hardware and software testing framework for DVB-enable devices including CI Plus.

The Bristol-based company says speed to market is of critical importance to digital device manufacturers and platform operators alike. With a typical digital television requiring several thousand tests as many as 150 days might be needed to run a staggering 30,000 tests. Robotester can automate the procedure and perform some 3,000 tests over six hours.

Robotester was developed internally to test its own software in-house. Bob Lamb, managing director of Cabot Communications says the length of time taken for manufacturers to test product was growing exponentially. “We’ve got to the stage now where we feel that we have something we can market as a product. Although there are other companies offering automated solutions, we have the middleware, the knowhow on TV deployments, and we have the understanding of what it takes to put this into production and offer an end to end solution.” Lamb said Robotester would not eliminate the various certification processes, but it would significantly speed the time to market, from six to nine months towards something considerably shorter.

The Robotester is fully customisable and includes an Application Programme Interface (API) that enables users to write and run their own tests using the Python programming language. It will be offered as both a product and a service. “You can only automate some of the functions,” said Lamb. “Things like CI Plus is a little more difficult and would be semi-automated. Where there is conformance activity you could just automate the MHEG part, but physically doing the functional testing of CI Plus you have to take the CAM out, plug it in, plug a smart card in, and somebody has to check the audio and ensure there’s no macro blocking.”

Cabot began life as an MHEG-5 supplier, initially developing its own engine for the interactive enabler, which over time evolved into the development of a complete DVB stack that was shipped to set-top manufacturers. The company now has complete CI Plus functionality and will shortly release a version of its stack that supports the new CI Plus 1.3 that already includes DLNA and return channel capability.