Active-TV Technology for iPhone and iPod touch

Active-TV Technology for iPhone and iPod touch
Navigate YouTube

Navigate YouTube available at iTunes App Sore

An easy to use iPhone and iPod touch App that enables both new and advanced YouTube users to get the best from YouTube.

Browse video Standard Feeds, Categories, Channels and Playlists. Then organize new videos into your own favorites and playlists. Make playlists private or public. Subscribe to other user's playlists and video collections for future viewing. Subscribe to videos matching search-words.

Look at publicly viewable favorite videos, playlists and subscriptions based on your YouTube friends, family and contacts. Send and receive video links with YouTube contacts via YouTube video messages.

Search for new videos tagged for your language or geographical region, using local keyboard. Explore for new videos via easy switching of user ID to the owner of interesting videos - then explore their world.

All actions are kept in sync with PC, Mac or Apple-TV access to YouTube. Available at Apple App Store.

active-TV technology for PC

active-TV technology for PC
Windows PC based home network

Thursday, April 26, 2007

AMD collaborates with active-TV technology

Active-TV Ecosystem Developers,

AMD Inc. clarified its digital entertainment position earlier this year at CeBIT in Hannover. AMD’s press release has the sub-headline: “Active TV Solutions Enable Internet Video On Your TV, Courtesy Of Your PC”.

Their announcement introduced a branding campaign, “AMD LIVE! Ready”. Described as an “easy way” to identify entertainment appliances which network, or interact, with a PC. The LIVE! Ready logo does not appear to be exclusively associated with any particular technology, but makes use of whatever methods are utilized by the various networked appliance offerings.

One technology included under the AMD LIVE! Ready umbrella is active-TV technology. AMD’s intent to collaborate with other active-TV technology developers is clearly indicated in the press release. The active-TV technology approach is not owned by AMD, but its acceptance among entertainment appliance developers is likely the reason why it is singled-out for mentioning in the press release sub-heading.

AMD’s position is further clarified by their active-TV program manager Graham Kinahan, during a video interview. Also in the interview is Christoph Buenger, CEO of Scendix, one of the active-TV UI developers.

Josh Martin of the Yankee Group is quoted in a Red Herring review of AMD’s announcement: “It’s clearly a shot across the bow of Intel and their ViiV program,” he said. “At the core of it all, it is a battle to move content from the PC to the TV, and that’s not an easy task.”

ViiV is both a branding and technology development from Intel. The ViiV technology, like the Microsoft Extender technology, is used to form ecosystems of networked PCs and entertainment appliances. Like active-TV technology, they all support formatting and distribution of TV-web channels from the Extended-PC to the TV or Set-Top Box (STB). The Apple TV approach is very similar, but the current range of network-delivered TV channels is limited by Apple (No doubt this ensures an Apple-level of quality).

The AMD LIVE! Ready logo does not appear to ensure access to TV-web channels over the internet. Only networked devices supporting active-TV technology, or something similar, can accomplish this.

An important difference so far seen between the active-TV technology approach and ViiV, or Extender and Apple TV, is the integration into the familiar STB used for normal broadcast TV reception. This results in a multiuse network-enabled Set-Top Box, rather than a single-use Digital Media Adapter (DMA). Placing broadcast reception in the STB or TV (where it already exists) has many advantages over adding a TV tuner card into the PC. Integrating TV-Web into the STB or TV, brings the TV experience together into an integrated UI, and sets the stage for the future as the lines between traditional broadcast TV and TV-Web continue to blur.

Current entertainment appliance buyers are not familiar with a DMA; they typically don’t want another IR remote; they don’t want to rewire their house, and they have a limited number of input connectors available on their TV. Integrating active-TV technology in to Digital Video Record (DVR) STBs, enables the user to time-shift viewing or watch network-delivered TV-web channels on-demand, without the home network bandwidth being used to transport broadcast video. There is more on this topic, such as the importance of overlay TV-web in support of advertising, at the active-TV technology blog.

Also announced at CeBIT was BroadQ’s active-TV software for the Sony Playstation 2 (PS2). A review by Wolfgang Gruener titled “AMD gets cozy with the PS2, puts YouTube on your TV”, said it nicely: “Active TV is basically just software that aims to enable devices that are in your living room anyway to connect to your PC and from there to the Internet.”

BroadQ software will enable the PS2 user to view more than just the YouTube TV-web channel. It supports access to all active-TV conforming channels, such as those from Veoh, vMix and many more. Active-TV platforms support the most open and flexible range of TV-web channel formats. This is why they can be used to view channels originally built for viewing via ViiV or Microsoft Extender and Xbox-extender.

The PS2 must be in a home network and in communication with a PC running in the background BroadQ’s active-TV support software. There was a lot of web-discussion about the recent Google-Echostar collaboration. However, there are over 45 million PS2s already connected to the TVs in the US and over 25 million in broadband enabled US homes, significantly more than the installed base of EchoStar STB users. The BroadQ software can make it very easy for large numbers of existing users to easily gain access to new TV-web channels – and experience new forms of TV advertising.

Active-TV technology is not simply trying to "move content from the PC to the TV". Yes, this is supported and I believe BroadQ’s QTV TV-UI was developed in collaboration with Scendix; But, a TV-web video stream can flow directly from a home router to the networked TV or STB. The PC is only used on the occasions when the TV UI requires reformatting. This task is simply handed off to the PC’s browser engine, where it is quickly processed before TV viewing commences. The PC will also step-in when the TV encounters a video format which it can not directly process. In this case, the PC will perform the necessary video transcoding.

In Computer World AMD is quoted as saying “the viewing experience is best with a multi-core processor such as the Athlon 64 X2 chip” . This is likely at the root of AMD’s objective. That is, improving multi-core PC valuation by demonstrating its role in supporting networked home entertainment appliances; Principally, the ability to format and distribute the TV UI used by TV-web channels. AMD’s collaboration with active-TV technology developers is able to help them achieve their objective.

Feedback, corrections and comments welcome.
Daniel Mann

Thursday, April 19, 2007

EchoStar and Google Partner for TV advertising

Active-TV Ecosystem Developers,

The Issue: Google wants to expand is PC-based advertising role to include TV advertising.
Background: Google applies its PC advertising analysis skills, along with automation improvements to place conventional linear-TV advertising using current EchoStar STB infrastructure.
Behind the scene: active-TV technology uses new generation of networked TVs and STBs to deliver, more innovative and PC-like, TV-web in support nonlinear-TV advertising.

Google has a significant position in support of PC-web advertising. Recent announcements add to reports that it wants to expand its position to include TV advertising (a $60B per year business).

Through web access information, cookies and other browser provided information; Google can help place PC-web adverts that are relevant to the PC user. Like all browsing information, the adverts are delivered over the PC’s internet connection. The Set-Top Box and advanced TV market is entering the initial adoption phase for the networked enabled STB and TV. Consequently, Google can not yet use IP networking to deliver TV adverts to an existing and large TV audience.

EchoStar is marketed as Dish Network in the US and has 13.1M satellite subscribers. (The press release linked below, also indicates Google are collaborating with some smaller cable TV operators.) The Google press release states “Advances in set-top-box technologies make it possible to report aggregate statistics on how many times an ad was viewed and whether it was watched through to the end.”
The return path for a satellite STB is normally the telephone. Typically, late at night the STB will dial a reporting center and transfer information about its daily activity. This information will be passed by EchoStar to Google in what is described at “aggregate, anonymized set-top-box metrics”.

Google inserts adverts into the broadcast stream. This is conventional linear TV advertising. Likely using PC-web back-end advertising support technology Google already has in place, and access to return-path data, Google will “automate” the process of inserting linear TV adverts. The objective is to make adverts more relevant to the target TV viewers. Google’s experience in analyzing PC-web behavior may help in analyzing TV viewer behavior.

There is no push-red style TV interactivity indicated in the current press release. A STB supported by more advanced middleware such as from or the like, would enable Google to support more advanced form is TV advertising.

Active-TV collaborators have used the IP path to support new forms of TV advertising. Red Bee Media (BBC Broadcasting spin-off) has publicly demonstrated push-red style interactive advertising using overlay TV-web, an active-TV technology. At last November’s BIMA (British Interactive Media Association) award ceremony, Red Bee won Best Use of Interactive Television for their Boots Christmas i-ad.

With active-TV technology, TV advertising is not in the linear broadcast stream, but supplied over the internet. However, the advertising can be synchronized to the broadcast TV schedule. A push-red style semitransparent TV-web image is overlaid on the broadcast image. User interactivity normally results in video redirection to an IP delivered TV-web channel stream which contains the advertising material.

The active-TV technology approach to TV advertising significantly differs from the current EchoStar-Google approach in that it does not require advert insertion into the linear broadcast stream. However, it does require adoption of a networked TV or a networked STB. Use of the IP path rather than the broadcast path for advertising support, does result in a more open approach. Those wishing to play a role in TV advertising can find it hard to make deals with closed STB service providers.

The relative openness of PC-web and TV-web technology, is better suited to supporting competition among advertising suppliers. In the retail STB and advanced TV market, purchasers are interested in free-to-air broadcast shows and, increasingly, access to free video sharing or other interesting TV-web channels. The role of the search-engine may remain a PC-web activity and not TV-web, as there is little interest in having a keyboard attached to a TV. It is more convenient to use, as necessary, a laptop PC in the same room as the TV. This may diminish the role of the search-engine in support of TV advertising. However, combining analysis of PC-web and TV-web activity may be the most powerful tool in making TV advertising more relevant.

Feedback, corrections and comments welcome.
Daniel Mann

EchoStar and Google Partner on New TV Advertising System

Google Announces TV Ads Trial

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

MHP and OCAP too expensive ?

Active-TV Ecosystem Developers,

The Issue: Expensive STB technology continues to struggle to gain purchaser acceptance.
Background: low-cost MHEG technology has more market approval than relatively expensive MHP or OCAP.
Behind the scene: active-TV technology avoids significant STB cost adder, thereby improving prospect of market acceptance.

A press release from the recently formed organization to promote MHEG, IMPALA, provides some impressive Spanish market data in support of its objective.

MHEG (Multimedia and Hypermedia Experts Group) is a standard requirement in UK DTT Set-Top Boxes (Digital Terrestrial Transmission – DVB-t). Use of MHEG technology is also spreading to other markets.

MHP (or OCAP in is US form) makes use of more complex Java-based technology. This results in a more expensive STB. Applications built to the MHP format can be more complex than MHEG media applications, but the additional STB cost has met with considerable consumer resistance.

The active-TV technology approach supports even more complex applications than MHP, but avoids the extra STB cost by using the computational resources of a home networked PC or laptop. This can be mostly invisible to the PC user. A laptop user can be accessing the PC-web while a TV “user” uses the hone network to simultaneously access TV-web applications. Active-TV technology result in a different set of user trade-offs; But importantly, the cost of the STB is little affected.

MHEG and MHP technology are applied in “closed” STB systems. They normally don’t require or support internet connection. They were developed before widespread video sharing on popular PC-web sites. They were not intended to be bring the openness of PC-web video sharing to the TV via a TV-web-channel. This is achieved with active-TV technology. MHP emerged in the mid 90s as a means for 'closed system" broadcaster to produce the same TV user interface across STBs supplied from multiple vendors.

Feedback, corrections and comments welcome.
Daniel Mann

[From IMPALA press release ]

In the last quarter of 2006 in Spain, 437,000 DTT receivers (set-top boxes, integrated TVs and PC-enabled DTT cards) were sold, but only 514 were MHP-enabled. (Source: the DTT Association, Impulsa TDT). The main reason seems to be that MHP set-top boxes are significantly more expensive, costing from €120 or more, compared to around €50 or less for standard receivers.

For comparison a UK DTT set-top box including MHEG-5 middleware costs around €50. Overall, there are more than 3.3 million DTT boxes in the Spanish market, of which 2.7 million were sold in 2006. The very low penetration of MHP-enabled receivers in Spain and other countries makes it very difficult for broadcasters to build any viable commercial business models for interactive services.

Monday, April 16, 2007

S&T to Demo MHEG-based TV Interactivity

Active-TV Ecosystem Developers,

The Issue: enabling TV interactivity via low-cost networked-STB technology.
Background: combing network access with STB MHEG-5 standard, improves support for interactivity.
Behind the scene: active-TV technology is similarly low-cost, but offers more advanced TV interactivity and access to networked-delivered TV-web video.

Contained in the S&T press release, is some interesting MHEG-5 and TV interactivity news.

S&T’s supply the tools needed to build carousel-style TV interactivity. The interactive material (the “broadcast file system”) is sent to the Set-Top Box in the MPEG2 transport stream. S&T also supply their RedKey MHEG-5 STB middleware; which seems currently supported by ST, ARM and possibly Zoran STB solutions.

A TV EPG (electronic program guide) is a typical MHEG-5 application. However, somewhat more advanced applications are possible, giving the TV user a limited amount of interactivity. Without an on-line return path, typically phone SMS based methods are used to complete any additional transactions.

A networked STB with RedKey MHEG-5 middleware can extend access from the “broadcast file system” to the “networked file system”. This improves its ability to support MHEG-5 compliant applications. The IP network eliminates the use of SMS for return path transactions.

MHEG-5 platforms are generally much less expensive than MHP (or OCAP) alternatives – which also typically have no return path. Given consumes’ rapid acceptance of broadband ISP service at home, this simple return path mechanism and expansion of MHEG-5 applications, may give these relatively low-cost STBs further market acceptance.

The RedKey middleware does not give the TV or STB, conventional access to the internet. The method does improve a STBs standalone capability, but MPEG-5 applications can not compete in complexity with active-TV technology’s PC-assisted applications. The STB also does not network with any home PC or notebook PC, enabling sharing of content.

Presumably, the interactive MHEG-5 STB can connect to the home router via wireless network support. I suggest consumers, would clearly appreciate wireless connection and interaction with the home laptop PC. At which point, support for TV-web channel applications, in advance of the more basic MHEG-5 applications, would be a much appreciated addition and add little to the cost of the STB.

Without this enhancement, the networked MHEG-5 STB does not allow the TV viewer to reach the increasing number of interesting TV-web channels. These “channels” give the TV user the freedom to access and share internet video and PC-resident content; A freedom, familiar to the PC user when accessing PC-web.

Feedback, corrections and comments welcome.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What happened to PC-in-living-room

Active-TV Ecosystem Developers,

There is a rapidly increasing number of articles on “what happened to the PC-in-living-room” ; Such as the “HTPC: Victim of Evolution”, linked below. The author includes such statements as: “HTPC party ended before it even began”.

The terminology HTPC stands for Home Theater PC. This was its early name. Maybe in an attempt to fix its marketing problems, it was later know as the DHT (Digital Home Theater), then more recently DHC (Digital Home Cinema).

The article suggests the new candidate for digital-convergence in the living room is the networked STB with DVR (digital video record). A STB has the same disc storage requirements as a PC when recording digitally broadcast video; but users don’t have to deal with the complexity and cost of getting a PC to digitally record. Using a PC to perform analog video record (PVR) typically results in noticeable loss of video quality. It can also require an IR-blaster to enable the PC to control the STB as if it is sending remote control commands.

The author actually states there is another candidate for living room usage, the Digital Media Adapter (DMA or Streamer). This is to provide a “bridge between the PC and the entertainment system”. But the DMA will find it difficult to compete with a networked STB with active-TV technology, as they achieve much more than a simple DMA. Active-TV technology enables a STB or DMA to deliver TV-web channels accessed via the internet.

The DMA advantage is summarized:

    [quote]These streamers [DMAs] present several benefits over a dedicated HTPC. Since it operates over a network (either Wireless G or Ethernet), owners no longer need to keep their PC in close proximity to the viewing area. Leaving the computer in another room, where it is out of earshot and out of sight, eliminates concerns over chassis noise and increases the all-important “Spousal Acceptance Factor.”[end]

This is a good description of the Extended-PC approach used by active-TV technology; Basically described as a TV or STB assisted by a networked PC. Unlike the author, I don’t agree that DRM will stand in the way of the networked-STB’s acceptance over the HT-PC. The STB already deals with CA (conditional access) security used by broadcasters. It can also deal with DRM (some already do).

Additionally, there are a growing number of TV-web channels. These channels give the networked STB access to interesting video programs. TV-web channels support a new style of video formatting; One which consumers are increasingly familiar with, given their use of PCs and laptops to access video sharing PC-web sites.

Different forms of DMA have been around for some time, but like the HT-PC, have never gained much market acceptance. The Apple-TV box may be the break-through DMA. However, a DMA with active-TV technology, or better still a STB/DVR or TV with active-TV technology, offers the user a lot more viewing choices.

Importantly, leveraging a users existing PC or laptop PC to build an active-TV home system, means a user most only bear the cost of the less expensive active-TV STB to gain access to TV-web channels. However, my own testing indicates that an Extended-PC system works better with the dual-core PC processors. By better, I mean the demands made by the TV users have little impact on the simultaneous PC user.

Feedback, corrections and comments welcome.

The referenced article “HTPCs: A Victim of Evolution?” is available at:

Thursday, April 5, 2007

HP Exits Media Center Business

Active-TV Ecosystem Developers,

Linked below is a report that HP will exit the Media Center PC business. Reading the details, the author describes an MCE PC-in-the-living-room. The claim is they are: too loud, too complex to set-up, too expensive, too complicated to maintain and have annoying DRM issues.

    [quote] HP is pulling out of the Digital Entertainment Center (DEC) business. The company that pioneered the living-room form factor for Media Center Edition (MCE) PCs has decided to drop the line.

    The company instead will focus its energy on MediaSmart, the new brand of TVs with digital media adapters [DMA] built in -- not Microsoft Media Center Extenders that link Media Centers with remote TVs, but HP's own solution for distributing photos, music, video and other content (including Web-based) to the TV. [end]

It is claimed, HP will now follow the DMA approach; which combines an Extended-PC with a networked TV or networked DMA. This is similar to the approach taken by active-TV and Apple-TV.

The HP MediaSmart TV does not use active-TV technology but appears to rely on a built-in microbrowser. This gives the TV some standalone capability when accessing web content; but not access to the wide range of existing TV-web channels enabled via an Extended-PC assisted by active-TV technology.

The author is careful to point out the difference between a TV-DMA combination and Microsoft Extender technology; the later leaves broadcast TV reception at the PC. The Microsoft approach consumes home network bandwidth even when watching broadcast TV. (For example, viewing recorded TV at the Extender location.) The active-TV approach also leaves broadcast reception at the TV, and hence is much better suit for combining with high-def TV reception.

Active-TV technology is frequently used in Set-Top Boxes (STB) incorporating digital video record (DVR). This is technically difficult to achieve; as it requires the combining of computer networking technology with broadcast TV reception technology, into a single box. This feature along with utilizing the much more powerful networked PC’s browser for formatting TV-web channels, gives users of active-TV enabled TVs, much more choice.

Feedback, corrections and comments welcome.

more at

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

99% say no to cable TV on PC

Active-TV Ecosystem Developers,

A 566 day Time Warner experiment reported below, determined that 99% of PC users don’t want to watch cable-TV service on their PC. The experiment delivered TV over the internet to a network home PC.

So what is the role of a PC in support of living room video entertainment? Some in the PC industry still say there is a role for the PC-in-the-living-room, but it is hard to build a business with reports of less than 1% consumer interest.

The article says: “cable-system operators and programmers can breathe a sigh of relief. As a result of this test”. But it is not good news for those trying to position the PC as an “alternative” to conventional cable-TV platforms.

Active-TV technology follows the evolutionary Extended-PC approach. It enables living room viewing of TV-web channels without a PC-in-the-living-room. The cost of creating a TV-web channel is low. Active-TV enables TV-web channel access via a networked STB or networked TV. Adding network support, adds little to the cost of the TV or STB; and it does not destabilize TV operation or add to TV “maintenance”.

Active-TV technology addresses the interest of the 99% of TV users that don’t want a PC in-the-living-room, but want new IP-delivered TV-web channels.

Feedback, corrections and comments welcome.

Daniel Mann

Time Warner Ends ‘Unscalable’ Trial

[quote] Let’s say you could watch 75 channels of cable television on your PC. Would you? No. At least 99% of the time.

More at