Interactive TV News Round-Up (III): httv, SMiT, The Karada, Liberty Global

--httv's New httvBox Solution Integrated onto SMiT Set-Tops
--New Multiplatform, Interactive Storytelling Project, "The Karada," Launches
--Liberty Global Unveils "Horizon" Hybrid-TV Platform

Due to the large volume of news generated by the IFA, IBC and CEDIA trade shows--and because the [itvt] editorial team has been working on TVOT NYC Intensive 2011--we are covering stories in this issue in round-up/summary format. We anticipate that it will take us several days to catch up with all the recent news: 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.

  • httv said Thursday that Chinese set-top box and conditional access module company, SMiT, has integrated its recently launched (see the article published on itvt.com, August 23rd) httvBox solution on its hybrid set-tops. "httvBox is an embedded software solution for connected TV's and STB's that...is available for all TV distribution platforms: from pure broadcast (DVB-T/T2/S/S2/C frontends) to pure IP (IPTV, OTT) and hybrids including both," httv states in its press materials. "The interactivity is powered by the HbbTV fast-growing European standard (Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV). As an open ecosystem, it ensures a wide community of developers and an existing portfolio of applications deployed on HbbTV-compliant STB's and connected TV's. httvBox is available on SMiT STB product based on [an] STMicroelectronics system-on-chip. It offers an extensive range of features such as: user-based profile UI (adult vs. kids UI), nonlinear TV services (push-VOD, catch-up TV), enhanced EPG, etc. It also offers advanced UI, fast zapping, PVR features, video mosaic and value-added services like social networking and other interactive TV applications. httvBox is also an advanced media center supporting most formats and codecs for video, pictures and music."
  • Tea4Two, the production company behind Tim Kring's "Conspiracy for Good" (for more on the latter, see the article published on itvt.com, June 25th, 2010), has teamed with "Heroes" writer Jim Martin and Furnace Fighter Media on a new multiplatform, interactive ("transmedia")  storytelling project, entitled "The Karada." According to an article in the Guardian, the new project will offer episodes on Web and mobile, as well as digital comics, presences on Facebook and Twitter, and live events; and the development of its storyline will be influenced by its audience/participants. It is billed as "a supernatural thriller about a young woman, Emma Gossett, who struggles to save the multiverse as realities collapse around her." Producer, Tom Liljeholm, provides the following description of the project's participatory element: "Participants will be called upon to write in the details of Emma's alternate realities, the basis of which will be produced into a digital comic series. Further, as our heroine in the dramatic series crosses paths with these alternative lives, participants will feel the true impact of their contributions on the storyline." The project's Web site can be accessed here. (Note: The original version of this story, published on September 8th, incorrectly stated that Tim Kring was involved with this project. Our apologies for any confusion.)
  • International cable operator, Liberty Global, on Thursday unveiled "Horizon," a media and entertainment platform for the home, which it bills as "seamlessly" integrating cable, Web-based and personal content. "Using a simple and intuitive interface and a powerful recommendation engine, consumers will be able to share and view content on multiple screens and devices wirelessly throughout the home," the company states in its press materials. "Horizon is designed to put a computer at the heart of your digital home. This multimedia gateway will create a wireless network that connects your TV to all of your personal devices--computers, tablets and smartphones. The TV interface uses 3D graphics and images that will bring your content to life and make navigating simple, instant and seamless. Supported by search and recommendation features, it will integrate access to personal media content such as photos, music and movies stored in the home or in the cloud. Horizon will also allow customers to take their entertainment experience beyond their home TV's. Applications have been developed for smartphones and tablet devices (second screens) as well as Web browsers that will enable a similar and complementary experience on different devices both in and out of the home. In the same way that apps have added a new dimension to the use of smartphones and tablets, the Horizon open platform for apps aims to do the same for TV. The Horizon ecosystem is an open and scalable platform for the future on which developers can continue to improve and enhance the functionality for consumers. Liberty Global is working with international and national content providers, such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, to develop applications for its standards-based 'App Store.' In this store, subscribers using Horizon will be offered a full catalog of Web-based apps and widgets that will be seamlessly integrated in the TV user interface. Liberty Global is reaching out to potential content partners and third-party application developers and will soon launch a software developers' kit for Horizon, inviting them to join the already existing 60 content partners that have developed apps for the new platform. Liberty Global is currently executing field trials on Horizon in the Netherlands and later in the year will move to consumer trials. Commercial launch is planned for Q1 2012 at UPC in the Netherlands, with UPC Cablecom in Switzerland and Unitymedia in Germany following soon thereafter. Horizon will be added to the company's existing line-up of advanced digital products, and existing digital customers will be offered an attractive upgrade package at launch. Liberty Global has developed Horizon with a set of world-class technology partners. Samsung has built the multimedia home gateway, which will be powered by the Intel Atom CE Media Processor. The middleware and the user experience will be provided by NDS. Nagravision will provide the conditional access solution through Nagra Media Access. This solution will support MoCA and WiFi, and participate in the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) ecosystem. The ability to enable the TV experience on different devices (computers, tablets, smartphones) both in and out of the home will be delivered by Ioko's enterprise service platform and by the thePlatform video content-management system [see article in this issue]. Empathy Labs was responsible for the Web site design."
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