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TV Magic’s DVR Hits New Heights

Systems integrator TV Magic Inc. entered into a strange new world this year when it sent one of its digital video recording systems into Earth’s orbit.

The Kearny Mesa-based concern typically designs and equips broadcast facilities and television stations on the ground, including recent work for Fox 6 in San Diego, the ESPN Live studio in Los Angeles and the HP Pavilion in San Jose, home of the Sharks professional ice hockey team.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Japan’s equivalent of NASA) launched the first component of TV Magic’s digital recording hardware and software system into space in March aboard the space shuttle Endeavour.

The second component was launched May 31 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the International Space Station.

The system was installed as part of Kibo, the Japanese Experiment Module, or research facility, which represents more than 20 years of development by Japan.

Japan’s space agency, often referred to as JAXA, purchased 14 systems from TV Magic for $15,000 each. The contract value, including research and development conducted, topped $500,000.


Making Magic

TV Magic President Stephen Rosen says Kibo is Japan’s first human-rated space facility and largest research module installed on the International Space Station.

He looks forward to learning about the lab’s success in using TV Magic’s equipment designs to deliver data for analysis. Digital video data is being used to document all research done at the research module. This footage can be transmitted to scientists on Earth or stored to the TV Magic hard drives.

“This was very much out-of-the-box for us,” said Rosen, whose company employs 30 people.

Rosen says working with Japan’s space agency was an interesting facet of his industry experience. Equipment he uses to design broadcast facilities needed to be tested for space travel.

“The strange piece was going to manufacturers to ask if I take their card and spin it up to 8 Gs is the warranty still good,” joked Rosen.


Cleared For Takeoff

Rosen says Chiyoda, a subcontractor to Japan’s space agency, approached TV Magic to replace outdated digital video recorders.

The two cut a deal.

The local systems integrator developed and modified existing video hard drive recorders. The TV Magic system incorporates digital video modules from Melbourne, Fla.-based Harris Corp. that were then modified for the project by Harris, TV Magic and Chiyoda Advanced Solutions to meet the rigors of space travel, including electromagnetic and radio frequency interference, as well as G-force.

Hidetoshi Nakagami, with Chiyoda, says the DVR solution provided by TV Magic meets specifications that exceed those of conventional audio and video systems.

Japan-based Chiyoda Advanced Solutions manages engineering, procurement and construction of the image processing unit for JAXA.

Nakagami says the image processing unit now provides the reliable performance required for space-based research.

Experiments in Kibo focus on space medicine, biology, Earth observation, material production, biotechnology and communications research, according to NASA.

Rosen says he is in talks with NASA and JAXA about future work.

In addition to TV Magic’s digital video recording system, several TV Magic employee signatures were included in the payload.

While Rosen doesn’t believe TV Magic will make space its business focus, the fact that it’s one of a few system integrators that can claim it developed such a product should be good for business.

“I don’t think you can quantify how much it actually increases our bottom line,” said Rosen, whose company does not disclose its annual revenues. “But it demonstrates the fact that if we can develop for space, we certainly can develop solutions for land-based customers.”

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