Hoping to kick-start the interactive television sector, Spyglass Integration officially opened the door for business on a new 31,000 square foot laboratory based in Lexington, Mass.

Coupled with financial backing from Motorola Inc. and OpenTV Corp., Spyglass Integration's call to arms is to hasten the deployment of cable- and satellite-based iTV services via "back office" tests and procedures designed to mirror "real world" market environments. Spyglass' target client base is comprised of cable and satellite operators, infrastructure developers and application providers, said company President and CEO Mark Huttemann.

Spyglass claims it can mimic mass-market conditions in a laboratory setting, primarily through software-driven simulation technology that can inject noise and other outside elements onto a replicated two-way, digital cable plant. That, Huttemann said, will help take the evolution of iTV to the next step with back office system integration that ties applications to billing systems and call centers.

Although Spyglass Integration has been operational for only a few months, its overall history goes back a bit further in time. OpenTV Corp. broadened a deal with Motorola Broadband Communications Sector about a year ago, when it agreed to dole out $34 million in stock to acquire CableSoft Inc., a provider of interactive applications for advanced analog set-tops during the mid-1990s. As part of the CableSoft deal, Motorola and OpenTV agreed to collaborate on an iTV integration joint venture, which later became Spyglass Integration.

Also tethered to that was Motorola Broadband's purchase of remaining equity in Acadia from OpenTV. Acadia is a set-top software integration facility, also based in Lexington, that specializes in DCT-series digital boxes. The name Spyglass is also tied to OpenTV's acquisition of Spyglass Inc. in March 2000 for $2.5 billion, a deal that gave OpenTV its TV-centric "Device Mosaic" Web browser.

Huttemann said Spyglass essentially complements the work being done at Acadia, which strictly focuses on the Motorola platform. Spyglass, he added, aims to be agnostic in terms of hardware, middleware and software platform integration, particularly in the back office.

Unlike an organization such as CableLabs, Spyglass' isn't in the certification business.

Huttemann said Spyglass could document and execute a variety of test plans, customizing them for each client, making the company a "master system integrator" for multiple applications and field deployments.

Since becoming operational in January, Spyglass has already signed on a large, undisclosed U.S. MSO for an interactive program guide integration project that kicked off this summer. Spyglass is also in "significant discussions" with two or three other operators, Huttemann said.