Dances with Clouds

Dancing with the iPad in the Cloud

As an unrepentant evangelist for “the cloud,” I’m always excited when someone uses it to provide a better viewing experience for consumers. So I was thrilled to read last week that Time Warner Cable is bringing a cloud-based Electronic Program Guide (an EPG, to those of us in the know) to some of its subscribers.

Why is this awesome? Because those subscribers will be able to enjoy so many things that make it easier and more enjoyable to find content they want to watch. Like, according to Light Reading: Better navigation. Better search capabilities. A better look, with features like cover art. Goodbye grid, hello Web-like experience.

Glenn Britt, the CEO who is driving a culture of innovation at Time Warner Cable, was quoted by CED, “We have no illusions that we can make all of our 14 million legacy set-top boxes sing and dance like an iPad. In fact, it isn’t all that easy to invent a simple way to surf hundreds of channels with the remote control that isn’t a keyboard.”

Making a traditional remote match the experience of an iPad is, without a doubt, a stretch. But I think Glenn’s being modest. Oceanic Time Warner Cable, the Hawaii system that has a reputation as a proving ground for advanced technology, has been using our CloudTV platform to deliver interactive apps to virtually every STB for some time now. CloudTV also has the ability to seamlessly interact with CE devices.

In the not-too-distant future, we’ll see STBs doing cloud-connected tangos with handheld devices that serve as remote controls. But that’s not all. Device synchronization will open the door for operators to deliver an expanded dance card of interactive experiences. Imagine sitting around with your friends and playing poker on TV. The big screen shows the poker table, while each person’s phone or tablet shows the cards in their hand. How about literally slinging video from your smartphone to the TV with the flick of your wrist? Or loading a webpage onto the viewer’s handheld device that allows them to purchase the product being advertised on TV? The possibilities are endless.

Singing and dancing like an iPad? Maybe not, but with the cloud as their virtual brain, STBs can partner with iPads to become even better entertainers.