If consumers are going to do what they want with video anyway, maybe it's time to just cater to their impulses. That seems to be the philosophy adopted by Comcast and Motorola Mobility, which are co-developing a wireless whole-home DVR alternative, a tuning device that hooks directly to a Wi-Fi router to create connectivity with any IP device anywhere in the home.
Most whole-home DVR schemes tend to avoid Wi-Fi in favor of Ethernet, MoCA or some other wireline method because it's hard to assure a minimum level of quality for video over wireless. But consumers commonly use Wi-Fi to access over-the-top video anyway, so why not offer that option for cable channels?
Motorola worked closely with engineers at Comcast Innovation Labs to develop the product, called Televation. Televation incorporates a 1 GHz digital tuner and CableCard to access broadcast TV channels directly from a coax outlet.
Comcast has its own branded version of the device, which it calls AnyPlay.
Televation/AnyPlay integrates a transcoder that translates MPEG-2 to MPEG-4 and can also change resolutions and bit rates to satisfy different viewing devices.
The product has an Ethernet jack to plug directly into the home Wi-Fi router so TV can be wirelessly distributed. Signal security is provided by Motorola's SecureMedia IPRM-HN technology.
Motorola provides software development kits (SDKs) for both Android and iOS development environments, so customers can develop client applications that enable the subscriber to navigate, discover and select the show they want to watch.
Motorola also provides a reference client application for tablet devices that can be branded, giving customers an alternative to developing their own application.
Tony Werner, executive vice president and CTO at Comcast, told CED that although AnyPlay can be used to deliver content on-demand, it won't in at least its initial commercial iteration. He also said that Comcast is investigating the inclusion of the AnyPlay functionality in a set-top.
"Consumers love entertainment and want easy access to TV no matter where they are in the home. Coupled with the explosive popularity of tablet devices, this represents a terrific opportunity for MSOs to increase customer satisfaction while generating new revenue," said John Burke, senior vice president and general manager of converged experiences at Motorola Mobility. "Televation gives our customers the ability to launch a new service that puts innovation back into TV, enabling their subscribers to enjoy TV beyond the TV."