Interactive TV News Round-Up (VI): SeaChange, Sezmi, KIT Digital, Sharp

--SeaChange Launches Nucleus Hybrid Gateway Software to Facilitate Transition from QAM to IP Video
--Sezmi Acquired by KIT Digital for $27 Million
--Sharp Launches SmartCentral Connected-TV Platform, Aquos Beamzit Media-Sharing App

Due to the large volume of news being generated by this week's 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), we are covering stories in this issue in round-up/summary format. We anticipate that it will take us several days to process all the news from the show: 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. While the [itvt] editorial team catches up with CES news, please check out the live Twitter coverage of the show from [itvt] bloggers, Will Keller and Zachary Weiner, by following the @tswedlow Twitter feed.

  • SeaChange International on Monday launched its Nucleus Hybrid Gateway software, which it says is designed to support cable operators' transition from QAM to IP video, allowing them to offer their customers multiscreen media sharing, whole-home DVR, access to apps and OTT content, the ability to use smartphones as remotes, and more. "Leveraging its open, standards-based approach, SeaChange produced the Nucleus end-to-end solution to blend the proven tru2way interoperability with Internet functionality through HTML5," the company states in its press materials. "SeaChange Nucleus provides consumers new features and content flexibility to improve the in-home viewing experience. The home device software is built on top of the SeaChange industry-leading tru2way-enabled platform and supports the SeaChange Nitro user interface, while delivering a unified user experience across all platforms throughout the home. The solution's two main components deliver a broad range of next-generation functionality within the home: Nucleus Engine: 1) Provides full control over STB functionality including channel changes, VOD/DVR playback and trick mode. 2) Enables media sharing throughout the home via DLNA (photos, audio/MP3, video files, recorded assets). 3) Backend proxy to cache program event information and create a faster, more enjoyable subscriber experience. Presentation Manager: 1) Handles the graphical components of the interface and conducts HTML5/JavaScript rendering. 2) Supports next-gen user interfaces (Nitro) and delivers consistent experience across platforms. 3) Supports applications, widgets, OTT (over-the-top) and personal content from a variety of third-party devices. SeaChange Nucleus is also capable of supporting multiple configurations within the home including a number of hybrid gateways containing multiple tuners for video, DOCSIS 3.0 and for OTT content while supporting MoCA, Ethernet and WiFi interfaces. The gateway devices can also connect to wireless routers via Ethernet extending support to a number of third-party DLNA devices. The software can also be configured on lightweight IP clients within the home that have a smaller footprint and no local tuners or storage. Our Nucleus software provides subscriber functionality including: 1) DVR/PVR and media sharing throughout the home. 2) Whole-home capabilities allowing subscribers to play, pause and resume content in any room. 3) Support for multiple screens within the home and handheld-as-a-remote functionality. 4) Easy access to a number of apps and OTT content."
  • KIT Digital, the Prague-based provider of solutions for multiscreen video management and delivery, has acquired the assets of Sezmi, a US company which developed a set-top box-based hybrid-TV offering, that it billed as "combining traditional TV content, movies and Internet video in a single, easy-to-use product and service," and which last fall informed customers that it was discontinuing its consumer-facing service (see the article published on itvt.com, September 27th). The transaction values Sezmi's assets at $27 million in cash and stock (plus earn-outs). "Sezmi employs a cloud-based software-as-a-service model and its target customers are service operators, such as telco's and ISP's, as well as content providers who desire to provide licensed or owned video content to subscribers across mobile and Internet protocol (IP)-connected home entertainment devices," KIT states in its press materials. "Sezmi has approximately 80 full-time employees and contractors in the US, with another 55 in India. Examples of key customers historically include a leading Mexican mobile operator, Iusacell, and a major Southeast Asian MSO, YTL Communications. Sezmi was an early innovator developing platform software for IP video management. As part of the transaction, KIT Digital acquired 18 patents from Sezmi related to over-the-top (OTT) platform provision in the mobile, online and digital terrestrial television (DTT) environments that it believes enhances its leadership position in the IP video platform industry."

  • Consumer electronics manufacturer, Sharp, on Monday unveiled a connected-TV platform/interface called SmartCentral. "A newly designed, customizable and intuitive user interface, Sharp's SmartCentral is designed to be the hub of the Sharp TV experience," the company states in its press materials. "Models incorporating the full-screen SmartCentral interface feature picture-in-picture, content search, Web browsing capability, and access to the most popular apps including Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and Netflix. In addition, users will be able to set up to four members of the household with a customizable interface and favorites for each user. SmartCentral will be available on all new 60-inch class and larger Sharp Aquos LED TV's." Sharp has also launched a free media-sharing app, dubbed Aquos Beamzit, which it says will allow users to "wirelessly send photos, music and video to a Sharp Aquos WiFi-enabled television from their iOS or Android smartphone or tablet."
North America