Active-TV Technology for iPhone and iPod touch

Active-TV Technology for iPhone and iPod touch
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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


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