Monthly Archives: August 2009

Dirty words and wardrobe malfunctions

Saving the world, one $#&^! FPGA at a time…

School system to use Algolith Profanity Cleaner and Delay System for live broadcasts

Okay, so maybe it was a slow news day when this got picked up. But digging deeper, what Algolith is offering is a reconfigurable, FPGA-based delay and filtering application for audio and video.

In their literature, Algolith is promoting the concept of One Card, One Price, More Choices. This is fundamentally what reconfigurable hardware is all about, and it makes sense for both the customer and for Algolith.

Why? Because video filtering and other broadcast video applications require hardware solutions, but don’t have static requirements. What’s needed for broadcasting, say, the Superbowl with 50 or more HD cameras, chaotic real-time action and thousands of opportunities for verbal and visual naughtiness, is probably quite different than the requirements for broadcasting a heathcare town meeting with a few unruly seniors.

How does reconfigurable hardware come in? A vendor such as Algolith can design and produce a hardware based solution, such as an HD-compatible video card, that has at its core one or more FPGAs. Some of the logic in these FPGAs is fixed and rarely updated, handling those parts of video processing that don’t change. Interfacing with video and network I/O devices, for example. Other parts of the video processing, however, are reconfigurable, allowing new types of clever delay filtering and other video gymnastics to be performed by the customer. Want to fuzz out someone’s unfortunate wardrobe problems with one mouse click, and track the offending [insert noun here] even as it moves around the scene? How about hiding all those annoying non-sponsor brand logos? Hey, somebody’s got to keep the viewers safe.

I don’t know if Algolith offers such high-zoot features in its video products, but these sorts of capabilities are certainly possible to implement in FPGAs today.

From a marketing perspective, the really attractive thing about reconfigurable hardware is the ability for a company like Algolith to become more than a hardware vendor – which is not a particularly scalable business – into a vendor of IP and services that use their reconfigurable hardware product as a platform for value-added options and reconfigurable firmware upgrades. And that’s a way $&@%*%! better business to be in.


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Filed under News Shmews, Reconshmiguration