Two years ago at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), some of the cable industry’s biggest heavyweights spoke at a press conference about the bright prospects of OCAP applications and services. Several name changes later, tru2way is in the spotlight at next week’s Cable Show.
After changing the retail name to tru2way at this year’s CES, but still keeping the monikers OpenCable for hardware and OCAP for software technical initiatives, the two-way technology for TVs, set-top boxes (STBs) and other devices will be in the limelight at the Cable Show.
CableLabs, Vidiom and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) are sponsoring a tru2way conference that kicks off this Saturday and runs into Sunday, while numerous product demonstrations will be featured in floor show booths and at the CableNET pavilion.
“We’re seeing great response from the application developer community for tru2way technology, and for the overall enhanced TV effort,” said Mark Hess, Comcast’s SVP of digital television. “The industry’s move toward open CableLabs’ specifications and technology is generating great volumes of application development.”
Cox, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and other cable operators are currently in various stages of OpenCable Platform trials and deployments, both of which are slated to pick up more steam this year. According to CableLabs, major cable operators have committed to deploy support for the tru2way platform in service areas covering more than 90 million U.S. homes by the end of this year.
OCAP was originally part of the broader OpenCable initiative, which CableLabs launched in 1997 to promote the deployment of interactive services over cable. OCAP consists of a stack of middleware software that resides between applications and the operating system within a consumer electronics device, such as a STB or OCAP-compliant TV set. JAVA-based OpenCable devices can have new information or applications ported to them because of their two-way capabilities, with enhanced television (ETV) being an early forerunner of applications for legacy set-top boxes.
For developers, content providers and broadcasters, OCAP holds the promise of “write once, deploy everywhere,” as opposed to writing to various proprietary platforms. Customers not only benefit from the new services and applications, but will also be able to take their OCAP-devices from one MSO footprint to another when they move.
A number of application demonstrations based on tru2way technology will be showcased in the CableNET pavilion:
- Softel-USA will show its MediaSphere TX carousel, playing both tru2way and ETV interactive applications.
- UniSoft Corp./Strategy & Technology Ltd (S&T) will show its TSBroadcaster 2.0 for tru2way to create and broadcast multi-service transport streams containing a number of tru2way and ETV applications.
- Zodiac Interactive will demonstrate a tru2way-based Zidget framework to support applications such as local search, weather, traffic, sports scores and local news without disrupting the TV viewing experience.
In addition, attendees at The Cable Show ’08 can experience interactive applications, including EBIF-based applications using CableLabs’ ETV specifications, in a number of exhibitors’ booths:
- BIAP will demonstrate market-ready EBIF applications, including Yellow Pages on TV, eBay on TV and Personalized Information TV (PiTV) running on BIAP's EBIF User Agent platform.
- Cisco Systems will have a number of tru2way applications in its booth, including a demo of Time Warner Cable’s digital navigator program guide, a demo of Comcast’s new iGuide, and demos of Navic Networks’ enhanced programming and advanced advertising.
- Comcast’s Chill Games application, which is being developed by PixelPlay and will offer casual games.
- Comcast Media Center will be introducing a national platform for deploying and managing ETV and tru2way applications at the Comcast booth.
- Cox Communications’ Next-Generation User Interface developed by NDS Group.
- Ensequence will demonstrate tru2way and EBIF interactive TV experiences for WWE and Ford.
- Harmonic is developing interactive, high-quality, video-rich navigation technologies to be integrated with tru2way.
- Working with partners Tandberg and Ensequence, HSN is developing EBIF/tru2way versions of the service for forthcoming launches with major distributors.
- ICTV will demonstrate Social Networking, Web 2.0, personalized mosaics and other applications that combine the strengths of Web functionality and ETV.
- itaas will showcase tru2way and EBIF applications built to be deployed on both Cisco and Motorola STBs, including TAG games on-demand TV network, Cisco Web Video on TV and Integra5 TV Caller ID.
- Motorola will demonstrate the advanced media mobility capabilities of its tru2way platform, including whole-home DVR, caller ID, external hard drive support, Time Warner’s music and photo sharing application, and a demo of Comcast’s next-generation user guide.
- Navic Networks has developed tru2way applications for advanced advertising, audience measurement and interactive customer care.
- Oberon Media is completing a games service that features games from its portfolio of hundreds of titles that includes licenses from Hasbro, Atari, WPT Enterprises and the Learning Co.
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