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

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Clearing the Fuzzy picture for Apple TV

The Issue: Regarding Internet video distribution, some reporters and analyst seem to be lagging behind actual marketing and engineering developments. They continue to suggest that open Internet-delivery of video to the living room TV has not yet been achieved, and is beset by insurmountable barriers.

Solutions: Current solutions do exist and mostly make use of DMAs, but these will soon be accompanied by the necessary technology integrated directly into TVs and hybrid-STBs. These solutions are open; that is, they are not tied to any particular video portal service.

Behind the scene: Active-TV technology enables TV developers to offer consumers an option to enjoy TV-web ‘browsing’. Today, anyone is free to build a TV-web formatted website or channel. TV-browsing (of TV-web channels) is freely available and as open as PC-browsing (of PC-web sites).

CNET’s Tom Krazit sees a “Fuzzy picture for Apple TV”. This comes at a time when there has been much speculation about an Apple TV ver. 2.0. The issues regarding how the Apple TV might develop next have been covered previously in this blog. The constraints remain the same, the choices include:

  • Exploiting the benefits of a new and hopefully lower cost chip from Intel.
  • Hiding the high-end DMA cost ‘behind-the-glass’ by integrating Apple TV into a TV.
  • Morphing the Apple TV into a box that consumers already understand, such as a STB or DVD player
  • Opening up Apple TV for other developers and marketers to exploit.

Ross Rubin of NPD is quoted in the CNET article saying: “the [DMA] category of devices is so nonexistent”. What he is fundamentally overlooking is that Internet delivery to the living room TV does not have to be via DMA or via closed system. Instead, it can be via a TV with integrated network support and in a manner that is completely open to all video distributors. Compounding these misperceptions is the way in which Krazit describes delivery of Internet to the living room TV as “a question that has eluded the PC industry for years”. I disagree with this: there are systems available at retail today that proof Krazit wrong (see: Any failure may be in marketing the solution, not in making it technically feasible.

Responding to the CNET article, Steve O’Hear at the Last100 states “and yet it’s still difficult, if not impossible, to get content originating from most Internet TV services onto a television”. He goes on to say: “why has the AppleTV failed to ignite the market for PC to TV devices?” Two reasons are suggested: One is that Apple-TV uses PC-assistance to support its features. The second reason, which gets CNET support, is that Apple TV is a ‘closed system’, with its tight and exclusive ties to the pay-to-download iTunes Store.

Rather than being “impossible” to get Internet TV service to the living room TV, it is actually rather easy. Both Krazit and O’Hear are missing the important fact that DMAs and STB boxes are available today that support open distribution of video content. These are boxes supporting active-TV technology. Most of the Internet Video sites support an API or RSS video distribution. There is little engineering effort required to connect these to template TV-web channels. Future template developments will eliminate even these simple engineering steps. Active-TV technology is currently being integrated directly into TVs, which eliminates the little understood DMA.

Web pages formatted for the PC are not appropriate for living room viewing. This is because small text, pop-up menus and keyboard interactivity is unwanted in the living room. This does not create any great difficult for the web designer, they simply follow a new set of ‘guidelines’ which suit web pages built for the TV; Know as TV-web, interactivity is via the TV IR remote.

As Apple and others have discovered, there are overwhelming reasons why the TV is best not burdened with any direct integration of the technology required to support web 2.0. The optimal solution is networked PC assistance. After all, what web 2.0 user does not already have a networked PC?

Also missed by Krazit and O’Hear, is the ability of active-TV technology TVs to support ‘open browsing’ of TV-web formatted sites. There are a lot of interesting sites already available. Anyone is free to build a TV-web site -- there are even templates available. Moreover, active-TV technology enables all these sites to be delivered to the living room TV. Today, it is not difficult to build a TV-web version of any of the popular PC-web based Internet video sites. It is quite easy to connect their RSS feeds into available TV-web template pages.

Whatever so called “barriers” remain to Internet-delivery of video to the living room TV, they are not primarily technical, limited to exclusive content, or downright unavailable. Reporters should catch-up with this fact and better serve their readers.

Feedback, corrections and comments welcome. Contact me for more information or support with active-TV technology development.
Daniel Mann

Monday, November 12, 2007

Living room TV advertising support for TV-web channels

The Issue: The ease with which Internet-delivered video can now reach the living room TV is certain to lead to renewed interest in new forms of advertising, assuming they complement, rather than detract, from TV-web viewing.

Solutions: Since Active-TV technology supports Web 2.0 technology, this allows PC-web based advertising techniques to be reapplied to TV-web channels.

Behind the scene: Click-to-view video advertising for TV-web is demonstrated using a new TV-web channel for vintage jazz enthusiasts. Given that a TV-web channel can potentially provide hours and hours of uninterrupted viewing, viewers should not be burdened with excessive or distracting advertising. Click-to-view advertising will have to be appealing.

Assuming a healthy balance is struck between the desires of viewers and the needs of advertisers, I suspect there may be music labels interested in associating their jazz CDs with vintage jazz video clips.
Terry Teachout, drama critic of the Wall Street Journal, shares an ARTSJOURNAL weblog on the arts in New York City. With over 4,500 blog entries, it is a busy site. In addition to daily postings, the site also features a list of mostly vintage American Jazz video clips uploaded to YouTube.

Oddly, Terry does not maintain a YouTube playlist for these videos per se, but I have nevertheless made a playlist from the links on his 'About Last Night' web site. Rather than single play, it is more convenient to watch the videos as one long uninterrupted sequence on the living room TV, as a 'jazz documentary' if you will. To enable this I have added new features to the TV-web template channel available at, making it easier to create a “YouTube Jazz” channel with these features. (See the TV image below.)

Under the “settings” option on the top horizontal menu, a feature to 'auto-play' the list of video can be selected. Below is a typical in-between videos TV image. This is displayed for a few seconds after the completion of the current video and automatically replaced by the next video in the sequence when the latter starts to play.

Below is an image of the next video playing. In practice, videos are not typically watched in the menu-context window shown; they are more likely watched in full-screen mode. The in-between video information ‘page’ is still briefly presented while transitioning between videos in full-screen mode.

As well as adding the 'auto play' option under the settings page (shown below), there are also new options to change the background color shading and select permanent left or right positioning of the box where the video plays on the menu page (instead of auto swapping at regular intervals).

There have been inquiries from readers as to how advertising could be included in TV-web channels. Google offers video AdSense for this task. AdSense is normally used with PC-web pages. It works by examining the contents (HTML code) of the page and delivering ads that are relevant. A block of HTML code must be inserted into the PC-web page to make calls to an AdSense server, which then delivers the video and adverting information displayed on the web page.

The same mechanism can be used with TV-web channels. To demonstrate this, I have added support code into the example TV-web channel. A small still-image appears in a box below the video viewport. When the advert-box is highlighted via screen navigation (as shown below), information provided by the advertiser is temporarily presented in the video-information area (below the video viewport).

If the user pushes ‘enter’ on the TV IR remote while the advert-image is highlighted then the associated ad video is played in the main viewport (a full-screen video-advert option is also supported). This is essentially “click-to-view” video advertising. If the user does not ‘click’ the ad image, they are not forced to watch the ad video and are only subjected to the still-image.

Naturally, the still-image, associated video, and text information are all supplied by an ad server such as AdSense. For the demo system, I just used YouTube video matching the search criteria “Trunk Monkey TV advert”. A new advert is requested from the server at frequent intervals such that the still image changes without any prompting from the user.

The word “advertisement” appearing below the advert-image is programmable by the HTML support code. In fact all advertising can be completely turned off (if so configured). The mechanism could likely be used for other purposes, such as distributing general announcements, displaying urgent news or maybe presenting an instant messaging session. These options will likely be explored here at a future date.

Feedback, corrections and comments welcome. Contact me for more information or support with active-TV technology development.
Daniel Mann

Friday, November 9, 2007

D-Link TV channel delivered to living room TV

The Issue: there is a lot interest in bringing TV channels to a TV audience without having to deal with the established TV networks or video broadcasters.

Solutions: Internet-delivered video provides a solution. It is now just as easy to build a TV-web channel as it is to create a blog or simple PC website. Adding network access to a TV enables it to ‘browse’ and view these TV-web channels.

Behind the scene: Use of active-TV technology makes it easy to build TV-web channels to very nearly replicate the traditional TV experience. These channels can support all manner of genres such as: shopping, education, product announcements, community information and no doubt a lot more.

D-Link maintains a PC-web based video service called D-LinkTV. They describe it as, “your online video source for networking know-how”. Using the D-Link DSM-520 box, it is now possible to bring the same video to the living room TV. The DSM-520 box connects a TV to the home network and to the Internet via active-TV technology. D-Link describes this as active-TV online.

The D-LinkTV PC-web page has been reformatted for TV-web viewing. This is shown below. The PC-web channel from D-Link is arranged into three groups: “home & office”, "business", and “questions & answers”. Videos are arranged under these headings. I will include the necessary support files at the web site for those who wish to add the D-LinkTV channel to their own TV-web channel line-up. In practice, any TV or STB using active-TV technology can access the D-LinkTV TV-web channel.
The DSM-520 is not just for D-LinkTV, it supports a great many other TV-web formatted channels as well. Like PC-web sites, new TV-web sites or channels are made every day, whether for leisure or commerce. Just like adding PC-web sites to a browser’s “favorites” list, new TV-web channels can be continually added to the list of ‘browsable’ TV-web channels.

In a recent Media Post article by Laurie Sullivan, she reports that, “many of the 10 million people who visit on Thanksgiving Day will end up in the store on Friday”. Clearly, PC-web site activity helps drive in-store business. How much more productive would this mechanism be if shoppers could view “new items” from the convenience of a living room TV rather than on a PC screen – via a Wal-Mart TV-web channel...?

Feedback, corrections and comments welcome. Contact me for more information or support with active-TV technology development.
Daniel Mann

Friday, November 2, 2007

ROO Channels turned into living room TV-web

Active-TV Ecosystem Developers,

The Issue: YouTube is famous for video sharing, but often the video is criticized for being of amateur quality, whether due to the short duration of most clips or the poor resolution in which they are streamed. There are other internet-video distributors, however, such as ROO, who supply a great deal of professional quality video.

Solutions: Using active-TV technology, it is easy to bring this professional quality video to the living room TV in the form of TV-web channels.

Behind the scene: The amount of video information and entertainment available to a networked TV in the living room is now reaching impressive levels. There are literally hours and hours of entertainment viewable via a broadband connection – all without the need to attach any PC directly with a TV. The benefits include no monthly cable-TV fees or interruptions from familiar TV advertising. The endless supply of video is continually refreshed via RSS feeds.

ROO is a leading supplier of online video. They recently announced a partnership with GeoBeats, a premier video travel guide for international destinations. They also offer video RSS feeds that currently include about 170 video categories.

ROO support a diverse yet highly targeted audience. They currently stream millions of videos to approximately 880+ diverse web properties, including the, The Sun UK, and Times Online.

The ROO video channels are easily made viewable on a living room TV, or any networked TV around the house, for that matter. Below are TV-web images for just a few of the ROO video feeds. They are formatted for widescreen viewing (16x9) on an active-TV technology-enabled TV.

We have entered an Internet-based TV era, wherein the shift from ‘network TV’ to ‘networked TV’ will bring untold millions of video to the networked home. The tools are now readily at hand to organize streamed video into countless channels catering to all manner of tastes and hobbies, and all easily viewable on TVs throughout the home, thanks to active-TV technology.

Feedback, corrections and comments welcome. Contact me for more information or support with active-TV technology development.
Daniel Mann