MIPS Technologies Seeking to Bring Android into the Digital Home (Set-Top Boxes, Digital TV's, etc.)

--Makes Source Code Publicly Available, Launches Early Access Program

MIPS Technologies, a company which, among other things, provides processors for home entertainment devices, announced this week that it has met what it describes as a "key milestone" in its ongoing efforts to drive the Android platform beyond mobile handsets: two months after announcing its port of the Android platform to the MIPS Architecture, the company says it is making the source code publicly available. It has also launched an Early Access Program for a small group of its key customers, which will have access to specific hardware and code optimizations before they are publicly available. It says that participants in the program will work closely with its engineering team and provide it with feedback and market expertise. "We are seeing an enormous amount of customer interest in Android on the MIPS architecture," Art Swift, MIPS Technologies' VP of marketing, said in a prepared statement. "Android presents a compelling value proposition in bringing Internet connectivity and a broad range of applications to MIPS-based digital home devices. We are working closely with customers and partners to ensure that critical technologies are available for developers to take advantage of Android for consumer electronics."

MIPS Technologies says that it is working with its "ecosystem" and silicon partners and with working groups of the Open Embedded Software Foundation (note: the latter, generally known as OESF, is focused on driving Android's applicability beyond mobile handsets) to define standardized Android-based platforms for set-top boxes, integrated digital TV's, mobile Internet devices, home media players and VoIP systems. It says it has already demonstrated Android running on a home media player and on a DTV reference design, and that it and its partners plan to demonstrate more solutions in the coming months. Last month, the company says, at an OESF forum in Japan, its long-time partner, D2 Technologies, demo'd its mCUE converged client for Android-based devices. The demo was billed as showing how embedded software products such as mCUE can enable VoIP, video chat and other IP communications in Android-based embedded equipment and CE devices.

According to MIPS Technologies, with Android "and the dynamic open source development community around it," developers can easily and quickly create new applications, and OEM's can leverage a fast-growing set of applications for their devices. The company claims that the "MIPS ecosystem" around Android, including tools from companies such as Viosoft and Mentor Graphics, enables OEM's to quickly optimize Android for their specific platforms and debug their solutions across the entire software stack.

According to a report in the New York Times, Wednesday, MIPS Technologies is "tweaking" Android to ensure that it can support HDTV and expects Android-based set-top boxes and digital TV sets to be available next year.

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