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Cablevision Systems Corp., with the help of two technology partners, has taken the wraps off a new proprietary interface for its iO: Interactive Optimum digital cable service.

The new menu-driven system features horizontal and vertical categories that show a viewer's current location within the interface, and offers directional indicators forward or back to the main menu. The main menu lists horizontal options of traditional features and services, including the channel guide, video-on-demand, games, enhanced TV and the "iO Showcase." Cablevision has also color-coded each category: Purple, for example, indicates on-demand, while blue represents iTV, and orange denotes games.

Cablevision initially will offer the new system on Scientific-Atlanta boxes, but hopes to have it available everywhere, including on deployed Sony-made boxes, by this spring, explained Patrick Donoghue, the MSO's vice president of interactive television and operations.

Cablevision hopes the snazzier, easier to use interface will drive application usage and video-on-demand sales. The new platform also incorporates an "active rentals" bookmarking element that enables customers to start and stop VOD titles on different TVs in the households. Traditionally, VOD titles are shackled to a specific set-top and progress of a program can't be transferred to other TVs.

Cablevision's internal engineering and technology group developed the new interface in partnership with DevelopOnBox LLC, an application developer, and Schematic, an agency that specialized in television interface designs.

Cablevision initially will use banners on the new system to highlight content on the service rather than to pursue opportunities with potential advertisers, Donoghue explained.

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