ISTP objects, or Handles, represent rich media objects on a multi-media grid. This grid is fully distributed across the Internet. As such, the objects themselves in addition to the mechanisms for accessing those objects must provide a rich interface so that information about those objects may be easily obtained, referenced (or linked), and the corresponding information about the object may be used in flexible manner.
Handles describe where and how objects on the media grid may be referenced. An overt goal of the ISTP system has been to support Tri-TouchTM (scroll ball) remote controls as those found with a television set in addition to a keyboard and mouse. Linking objects together via mouse clicks, or directly referencing them via a specified Handle using a keyboard may be accomodated using a tradtional HTML browser. Television set and browser integration with the same media objects have been a more problematic design constraint . Since media objects can be referenced on screen easily using a mouse for hyperlinked content, a scroll ball remote requires similar and seamless integration. Selection of a media object from the grid can be accommodated via keyboard search of meta-data in ordinary HTML fields, selection via a mouse, or use of a scroll ball remote and sophisticated on screen search and selection mechanisms.
End users are typically aware of "channels", TV programs and in the case of fully on-demand content, individually specified pieces of streaming content. These content segments may be linked together to form a contiuous streaming experience for an end-user. In addition, these objects must be capably displayed and selectable by a mouse or 5-button remote control. By standardizing the object container for ISTP Handles, individual rich media objects may have different behaviours associated with them for different user interface paradigms. The idea of channels, or a continuous stream of programs hyperlinked together is easily accomodated using this approach. In addition, an individual TV program with its own meta data and sub-programs may also be flexibly accomodated. Individual segments of hyperlinked rich media stream provide the basis for the system using a sequence of hyperlinked objects each with their own containers that interact with the an end-user differently depending upon user interface paradigm.
For example, a television interface may specify that object containers should display meta data about the object if it is selected on the screen. In addition, a thumbnail picture of the content along with playback attributes may be specified for the object visually if it is referenced within the system. The object, or handle, may also have playback attributes set as part of a playlist. Similarly, in the event the same object was referenced in a browsers, these same attributes may be displayed appropriately under a different playback and browsing paradigm.
InterStream intends to define the following for metadata use:
Other optional elements could include