Syabas Incorporates FrameChannel Interactive TV Widget Service into its OTT Devices

--Thomson Launches Satellite Set-Top Box with OTT Capabilities

Syabas, a Fremont, Calif.-based company that specializes in over-the-top set-top hardware and software, said Tuesday that it has signed a deal with Thinking Screen Media (formerly known as Frame Media) to offer the latter's FrameChannel content widgets on its Popcorn Hour A-110 and C-200 OTT set-top boxes and on its new DAVID platform, a "working prototype" of which it plans to unveil at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next month.

According to Thinking Screen Media, FrameChannel offers over 1,000 RSS-based content widgets in 12 different languages, including widgets that provide sports scores, stock quotes, weather and news, and social network status updates. The company also says that the service allows users to add their favorite blogs and other content sources that are not yet part of the FrameChannel library, and to view their personal photos on their TV. "FrameChannel represents an exciting new way for consumers to enjoy their favorite Internet content on any connected screen," Thinking Screen Media co-founder and COO, Jon Finegold, said in a prepared statement. "But more than just providing users with a practically limitless access to content channels from personal content to global media brands to hyper local news and events, we also allow them to add and customize additional channels using RSS." Added Syabas COO, Alex Limberis: "Media streamers today aren't going to survive if they only provide video streaming services to their customers. FrameChannel brings a new, interactive social dynamic to the table, enabling our customers to interact with their HDTV's much like they would a personal computer."

According to Syabas, its Popcorn Hour devices support the playback of over 30 Internet video formats, including MPEG-1, -2, and -4, AVI, H.264, Xvid, MKV and Windows Media, and provide access to content from such services and programmers as Vuze, Mediafly, CNET TV, Veoh, Blip.tv, NBC, CBS, CNN and the BBC (though not YouTube--an article from All Things Digital's Peter Kafka explains why). The company says that its new DAVID platform consists of "a new software development kit (SDK) and an over-the-top set-top device profile that incorporates the ability to develop and deploy applications to the company's app store portal." It claims that Thinking Screen Media is one of over 200 companies that have signed up to develop applications for the platform.

In other set-top news: Thomson on Monday announced the "high volume production launch" of the HD MPEG-4 DSI705, which it bills as "the satellite industry's first set-top box capable of supporting advanced, IP-based video services over existing coaxial L-band delivery infrastructures." "The content delivery landscape is changing dramatically as multi-room viewing becomes the next, crucial evolution of the PVR and consumers seek to supplement linear video with over-the-top IP content," Georges Laplanche, SVP of Thomson's Connect division, said in a prepared statement. "The DSI705 allows satellite operators to compete in this increasingly competitive, IP-connected video world by seamlessly enabling IP migration over single wire technologies via simplified installation techniques."

According to Thomson, the DSI705 can deliver IP signals over the same coaxial cable as traditional L-band video and low-noise block (LNB) control signalling, allowing it to connect and communicate directly with other IP-enabled satellite set-tops in the home, without additional wires or network connections. This STB-to-STB networking, the company says, is ideal for transferring content across devices or for multi-room PVR viewing. In addition, Thomson claims, the DSI705 is capable of connecting to broadband home networks using an adaptor, enabling satellite subscribers to transfer IP video over-the-top to the set-top for viewing on their home TV.

Thomson bills the new box as enabling satellite providers to "overlay their existing HD services with advanced video networking features, all while leveraging existing wiring infrastructure and satellite equipment," and as providing operators with "the ability to market new services and expand their residential presence using a compelling, networked service platform."

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