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Intel to unveil Internet TV hybrid

Making chips out of couch potatoes
Tue Dec 16 2008, 14:28

VIDEO MAY HAVE killed the radio star, but will Internet kill TV or vice versa? Intel certainly hopes not, announcing it will be ready to show off prototypes of its much-hyped Internet TV in early January.

Chipzilla says it will unveil its widget-running consumer electronics prototypes, which will apparently complement TV viewing with vital information from the Internet, at CES in Las Vegas.

The widgets, which were also mentioned at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco in August, will enable couch potatoes to chat to friends, order pizza and shop online, all without having to haul their backsides off the soft furnishings.


At IDF, Intel announced it had joined forces with flailing Internet portal Yahoo to work on a 'Widget Channel', and entice developers to come up with both hardware and software platforms which would ultimately fuse the Interwibble with the television using a special software toolkit. The toolkit purportedly allows developers to make TV Internet apps using Javascript, XML, HTML and Flash.

But, not wanting to hedge its bets with only Yahoo on the Widget Channel, Intel is widely expected to pull a few more partnerships with content and service providers out of its hat soon.

The INQ's favorite anthropologist, Genevieve Bell (who also happens to be an Intel fellow studying user interaction with technology) noted in an interview with IDG that Televisions were the perfect platform because they had always been somewhat interactive.


According to Bell, because TVs are easy to use, any worthwhile Internet experience would need to have an interface which would slip smoothly into the experience rather than make a clean break with what people are used to.

For example, Bell is not an advocate of bringing a browser or search engine into the TV experience as it might complicate things. Instead, Bell suggests, viewers would prefer features which would personalise their television experience, like social not-working or chat features.


But that doesn't mean Bell thinks Intel should limit itself. "I suspect it's a tip of the iceberg to look at how you can start to have more of a blend of social networking and television content," she said.

Intel certainly wants to bring something more and slightly different to the table than Microsoft's Windows Media Center, for instance, which lets users record TV programmes to their PCs and watch online content on the living room box.

But whether people decide they actually prefer integrating their television and Internet content is a concept which remains to be seen.

Watch this space. µ

PC World



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