Interactive TV News Round-Up (VII): TVO, Verismo, Techstorm, Visiware, Fox, will.i.am, YouView

--TVO's Academic Outreach Efforts Result in Three New Connected-TV Apps for Boxee and Yahoo! TV
--Verismo Powers Connected-TV Programming Service for UAE-Based Techstorm
--Visiware's "Money Drop" Play-Along Game to Premiere Tuesday, February 1st
--will.i.am Launches App Featuring 360-Degree Music Video, AR and other Interactive Elements
--Report: YouView Launch Could Be Delayed into 2012

Because the [itvt] editorial team was busy last week working on the TV of Tomorrow Show 2011, we are covering recent news in round-up/summary form. We anticipate that it will take us a few days to catch up with all the news we plan to cover: so if your company has sent us a press release or briefed us on an announcement, and you don't yet see your news covered in this issue, please bear with us. Our regular daily news coverage will return shortly.

  • Canadian public broadcaster, TVO, has launched three new connected-TV apps for the Boxee and Yahoo! TV platforms: "Gisele's Big Backyard" (educational content targeted at 2- to 5-year-olds), "The Space" (educational content targeted at 6- to 11-year-olds), and an app that provides a range of video content from TVO.org, including "Allan Gregg In Conversation," "Big Ideas," "Think Again" and "The Agenda with Steve Paikin." (Note: According to TVO, "Gisele's Big Backyard" and "The Space" are based on the Ontario school curriculum and are "teacher tested" and developed with the input of an in-house education specialist.) In addition, TVO is offering episodes of "The Agenda with Steve Paikin" in the Boxee TV Show Library. The new connected-TV apps are a product of TVO's "IdeaShaker" digital innovation lab, which is billed as an incubator for new talent, ideas and products. They are also a product of the broadcaster's academic outreach efforts: "Students from Sheridan College's Interactive Multimedia post-graduate program have worked alongside TVO staff on both connected-TV projects from conception to launch," TVO states in its press materials. "Based on this success, TVO is excited to partner with Sheridan's post-graduate program to nurture and develop new talent who will contribute to cutting-edge technology advances in public educational media. As part of the partnership, students gain employment experience through TVO and help develop new media applications from the ground up."
  • United Arab Emirates-based new media technology company, Techstorm, has announced that it has partnered with Silicon Valley-based OTT specialist, Verismo Networks, to launch a high-definition OTT platform called VuMax that will be targeted at connected TV's. "This will be an operator-independent OTT (Over The Top) platform service to be introduced in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and targets a huge market of Internet users who seek compelling entertainment from across the globe through their broadband connection," Techstorm explains in its press materials. "The Verismo platform allows Techstorm to deliver OTT videos, including live TV channels, linear channels and value-added Internet applications. Videos from popular Web sites, online radio, and movies on-demand are delivered seamlessly to television sets through the power of broadband Internet. Additionally, the new platform brings social networking applications such as Twitter, Facebook and MySpace directly to the TV set for the entire family to enjoy together. Personal media is easily accessed over the home network or by connecting a USB drive. In addition, the Verismo platform supports Electronic Program Guide (EPG) and Digital Rights Management (DRM) which ensures content can be seen only in the region where rights owners have rights for. The new service is delivered to consumers through a compact VuMax PoD, which is about the size of a deck of playing cards. In addition, through agreements with third-party content providers, consumers can subscribe to premium live and on-demand video content delivered directly to their TV sets through the Internet."
  • Last month (see the article published on itvt.com, December 10th), [itvt] reported that Endemol Worldwide Brands had signed a deal with interactive TV/multiplatform games company, Visiware, which it said would see the latter developing companion games for its "Money Drop" format. Visiware president and chairman, Laurant Weill, contacted us over the weekend to let us know that its companion game for the US version of the show (which airs on Fox at 9:00PM Eastern/Pacific, 8:00PM Central/Mountain) will premiere this Tuesday (February 1st). Viewers will be able to access the game here.
  • Black Eyed Peas front man, will.i.am, last week announced the launch in the iTunes App Store of "BEP360," an interactive app for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. The app--which is the first release from will.i.am's new digital media production company, will.i.apps--is billed as including "the world's first 360-degree view music video" (for the single, "The Time (Dirty Bit)"): end-users can move their device around a 360-degree axis in order to change their point of view of the video. The app, which is priced at $2.99, also features an augmented reality element, powered by metaio ("Point iPad, iPhone and iPod touch device at the cover artwork of the band's latest album, The Beginning (Interscope Records), and watch augmented reality take form with BEP avatars dancing to the beat," will.i.am's press materials explain); the ability to participate in a "virtual photo session" with the band; an aggregated Twitter feed; a puzzle game; and the ability to view "pictures and comments posted by other BEP360 app users on a virtual earth." According to will.i.am, BEP360 is "the first in a line of upcoming applications [from will.i.apps] that will converge the worlds of creativity, music and advanced digital technologies." A demo video of the app can be seen here.
  • The commercial launch of YouView (formerly, Project Canvas)--an initiative that sees 1) the BBC and UK public-service broadcasters, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, 2) UK ISP's, BT and TalkTalk, and 3) UK broadcast transmission company, Arqiva, partnering in order to attempt to develop a common standard and interface for the delivery of online catch-up services such as the BBC iPlayer, the ITV player and 4oD, as well as other Internet-based services (including VOD and interactive TV widgets), to broadband-connected Freeview and Freesat set-top boxes--could be delayed even past the 2012 London Olympics, the Daily Telegraph reported last week. The newspaper said that the delay is due to the initiative's failure to agree on technical standards with the Digital Television Group and to technical problems. "It just doesn't work when you turn it on and keeps crashing," an unnamed source, described as "a senior TV executive" with YouView, told the Telegraph. "You would think that after at least 18 months of development and at least six million pounds worth of investment from each shareholder, the box would actually work when being shown to its owners."
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