Interactive TV News Round-Up (III): ITV, Moonbot Studios, NDS, BSkyB

Bullseye App Teaser

--UK Broadcaster, ITV, to Launch Interactive Online Spin-Off of Soap Opera, "Coronation Street"
--Moonbot Studios Develops iPhone/iPad-Based Interactive Music Video for The Polyphonic Spree
--NDS Software Powering Sky's Sky+HD Set-Top and Sky Anytime+ VOD Service
--NDS-Designed Remote Control Wins Red Dot Product Design Award

Because the [itvt] editorial team is on the road this week, we are covering stories in this edition of the newsletter in round-up format:

  • UK commercial terrestrial broadcaster, ITV, is planning a three-episode, interactive, online spin-off of its long-running soap opera, "Coronation Street," Jessica Davies writes in New Media Age. The spin-off, which is being produced by ITV's ITV Studios arm, will see "Coronation Street" character, Rosie Webster, moving from Manchester to London to pursue a career as a model. As part of the show's plot, the character will launch a Web site, which will appear on ITV.com, alongside a Twitter feed and other (as yet unspecified) tools for viewers to interact with her. "We know 'Corrie' fans enjoy playful digital experiences around the characters they know and love, and this adventure with Rosie is a great example of innovative cross-platform commissioning at ITV," ITV's head of soap operas and dramas, Ben Freeman, said in a prepared statement.
  • Symphonic pop band, The Polyphonic Spree, has tapped Shreveport, Louisiana-based Moonbot Studios to develop an iPad/iPhone-based interactive music video app for its new song, "Bullseye." Priced at $1.99, the app is billed by the band as an "interactive, character-based narrative music video" that allows viewers to "play through an expansive and changing world as You-Me, a small creature striving to find his way in the world," and to "bring plants and creatures to life in a video where you see, hear, and touch the world around you." A demo video of the app--and a demo video for "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore," another interactive video project for iPad from Moonbot--are embedded on this page.
  • Interactive TV and conditional access technology provider, NDS, has announced that BSkyB has deployed a customized implementation of its set-top box software for its Sky+HD boxes. "As well as enabling the launch of Sky's Anytime+ VOD service, the component-based architecture of the set-top box software enables Sky to evolve the complete end-user experience to meet changing customer needs faster than ever," NDS states in its press materials. "Sky Anytime+ complements the existing Sky Anytime push-VOD service with a comprehensive catalog of on-demand content available to Sky Broadband customers. Using NDS set-top box software and end-to-end progressive download technology to power its on-demand service, Sky is able to deliver VOD content over Sky's own broadband network direct to the customer's set-top box. Once enough content is delivered to the DVR, playback can commence--allowing for the remainder of the content to be delivered in the background, thus ensuring a consistent and reliable customer experience." Sky Anytime+ is available to Sky customers with a Sky+HD set-top and Sky Broadband Everyday Lite or Sky Broadband Unlimited service. Other NDS solutions used by Sky include its VideoGuard conditional access and its XTV DVR technology. "Sky's deployment of NDS advanced set-top box software and progressive download technology is a perfect example of how a service provider can optimize its existing infrastructure to introduce value-added services to enrich the subscriber offering," NDS's SVP of major accounts, David Nabozny, said in a prepared statement.
  • In other NDS news: The company's NDS Studio Design arm has won the Red Dot Product Design Award for a new remote control it developed for French telco, SFR (note: the Red Dot Design Awards are an international product design prize awarded by Germany's Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen; according to the latter, they receive 14,000 submissions from 70 countries, in such categories as Communication Design, Design Concept and Product Design). "Inspired by the operator's branding and existing logo design, judges were particularly impressed by the ability of the remote control to connect the consumer to the product," NDS states in its press materials. "The judges also concluded that the remote had been designed in such a way that it reflected and enhanced the SFR brand...With clever use of design and ergonomics, the SFR remote control creates a link between the consumer and the product as well as between the hardware (remote control) and the software (user interface). The design of the remote control provides intuitive navigation for the user, reflected in the UI, streamlining the overall user experience...The SFR remote control is segmented to provide two distinct functions, one half of the device enables the user to manage the main functions of the user interface while the other keys provide shortcuts to dedicated functions. The two areas are separated by material, shape and color. To keep the user's focus on the screen, the minimal set of buttons enables the user to intuitively navigate the user interface without needing to look at the remote control." Said NDS's design chief, Olivier Lacour: "Design is an integral part of any TV offering and an important consideration when it comes to identifying with the brand. With the SFR remote control, the NDS design team has achieved the optimal balance between simplicity, ease-of-use and end-user functionality. We are extremely excited to have been awarded the Red Dot Product Design award and feel that it reinforces the approach we have taken that differentiates this product from other remote controls." (Note: NDS Studio Design was also recently awarded the Janus Label du Service by the Institut Francais du Design, for its NDS Snowflake user interface.)
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