Visiware Launches Interface & Design Department

--Forms Partnership with SoftAtHome
--Launches Promotional Offering on Bell TV

Paris-based interactive TV games company, Visiware, has launched an Interface & Design department. According to the company, the new department is dedicated to the creation, design and development of next-generation interfaces for multimedia consumer devices, including TV sets, media centers, Web/PC's, iPhones, multimedia players, GPS devices, and tactile screens; and groups together design, ergonomics, development, testing and marketing "within the same unique structure." The company boasts that it has over 10 years' experience in developing multiplatform applications worldwide and that it can offer turnkey solutions for most middleware platforms, from design to deployment; it claims that services that it has developed are deployed in five continents on over 30 cable, IPTV, mobile and multimedia player networks, and that it has ported over 40,000 applications to 500 different set-top box models and 300 different mobile phone models. In addition to drawing on this experience, Visiware says, the new department will derive feedback from focus groups organized by the company's product team. The company claims that the new department will cater to the needs of operators, manufacturers and content providers that are seeking to offer next-generation consumer interfaces. According to Visiware, the new department can develop EPG's, VOD or catch-up TV portals, mosaic applications, PVR products, "zapping" interfaces, CRM applications, news, weather, sports and radio services, enhanced TV applications and games portals.

At the IBC show in Amsterdam earlier this month, Visiware announced its first partnership for the new Interface & Design department: with SoftAtHome, a company that offers what it describes as a software operating platform for the converged digital home. The companies have co-developed a Flash-based application for digital set-top boxes, which they say makes access to the various services offered on DTV platforms both smoother and faster, and employs interactive animations that guide viewers through a platform's menus and functionalities. It incorporates a channel hopping interface, program information sheets, and navigation within menus; and also integrates a games portal, the companies say. The companies are billing it as combining Visiware's experience in developing rich and dynamic interfaces with SoftAtHome's experience in developing operating platforms. "SoftAtHome's success is based largely on the richness of the applications developed by our partners which are available on our Home Operating Platform," SoftAtHome CEO, Francois Josserand, said in a prepared statement. "We are therefore very happy to welcome Visiware to our ecosystem and allow our clients to benefit from Visiware's unique experience in the fields of interactivity and games for television." Added Visiware's SVP of technology and development, Pascal-Hippolyte Besson: "This is the first partnership entered into by our new User Interface & Design department, providing a new strategic focus for our company. Our objective for this project is to create an innovative and intuitive user interface with this platform's numerous functionalities. We are delighted to work with the SoftAtHome teams to create a new interactive television experience."

In other Visiware news: The company has launched a promotional offer on Canadian satellite TV platform, Bell TV, under which customers can get three of its games services for the price of two. Customers who subscribe to its Playin'TV (includes 14 ITV games) and Playin'TV Max (13 additional ITV games, plus access to mobile and Internet games) services will receive its casino games service, Playin'Casino (offers eight games, including "Texas Hold'em Poker" and "Roulette") at no extra charge. The offer is also open to existing Playin'TV subscribers (or subscribers to Bell TV's Arcade Fun games package, which includes Playin'TV) who want to upgrade to Playin'TV Max. Playin'TV is available in English on Bell TV channel 550, and in French on Galaxie-jeux on Bell TV channel 150. Bell TV also carries Visiware's Minikids TV (targeted at preschoolers) and Venus Games (adult-themed games) services.