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SimpleStar shines brightest at CableLabs' Innovation Showcase

Tue, 03/06/2007 - 7:05am
Brian Santo, CED

The cable industry singled out an application that allows cable subscribers to take photos and snippets of video, combine them with music, and share them on a VOD basis as one of the most interesting innovations in the industry this past year.

Simplestar's PhotoShow application was one of several featured at the Innovation Showcase at CableLabs' Winter Conference, being held this week in Denver.

Time Warner Cable started offering PhotoShow in its Oceania system late last summer. Subscribers use the application to create multimedia presentations based on their personal photos. Presentations are uploaded to TWC's VOD storage. Other subscribers can then order the presentations on a TWC channel called "PhotoShowTV."

"It was a very, very successful launch," said Simplestar President Chad Richards during a conference call Monday afternoon. "Both Time Warner Cable and SimpleStar were surprised at the level of viewing."

He said TWC plans to introduce PhotoShow in several more markets. First up will be Staten Island, in anticipation of a potential rollout through the rest of Time Warner's footprint in the New York City area.

If there's a drawback to PhotoShow, it's that all presentations need to be screened to ensure the material is G-rated and does not include copyrighted material. The service also does not allow users to post content with hate speech.

CableLabs' Innovation Showcase featured over a dozen other companies, including Black Arrow, uControl, SupportSoft, and Wyse.

Identified as runner-ups to SimpleStar's PhotoShow were Black Arrow's service, which is designed as a single point of control for on-demand advertising delivered across multiple platforms, and uControl's application for managing home security systems, accessible through broadband connections as well as through cellular or landline phones.

Charter Communications CTO and CableLabs Winter Conference Chair Marwan Fawaz was on hand at a press conference held to introduce the Innovation Showcase leaders, as were Comcast CTO Tony Werner, Comcast Interactive Ventures Managing Director Louis Toth, and CableLabs EVP David Reed.

Werner observed that through much of the '90s and the early part of this decade, operators were upgrading their systems, so many of the innovations in the industry involved hardware. Now that upgrades are largely completed, the balance has shifted in favor of innovation in software and applications, and this year's entries in the Innovation Showcase were prime examples of that.

In the last year, CableLabs helped organize a tour through Silicon Valley and another across the show floor at the Consumer Electronics Show to introduce cable executives to companies with products of potential use to the cable industry.

Werner said, "We encourage anyone who has an idea to let us know. If it's a really good idea," he said, "go see Louis."

In addition to Simplestar, Black Arrow, uControl, SupportSoft and Wyse, here’s a brief description of other companies featured at the showcase:

Casabi – Leverages broadband technology to “Web-enable” the phone.

DARTdevices – Using a software layer, enables interoperability between various forms of digital devices, PCs, mobile phones and Internet servers.

Oversi – Enables ISPs to optimize network performance and ease P2P traffic pressure.

Radiospire – Led by its chip-based “WireFreeHD” technology, supplies wireless HD interface platforms for home theatre and gaming products to OEMs and direct to consumers.

VUVOX – Enables users to create “personal, collaborative and emotive expressions” via digital media, including video, photos, music and text.

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