Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Interactive TV -- Ya Gotta See It

Interactive TV? We know you've heard it a million times. And in the end, the consumers will decide what they want. But this time, the cable industry seems to be ready. We went to the most recent cable show in Washington, DC and interactivity was everywhere--from the suburban home at the Broadband Nation exhibit to myriad demos on the show floor.

The difference now is that MSOs, technology vendors and content providers are all rallying around tru2way, a common software platform for building interactive applications. With tru2way, creators of interactive services will be able to "write" an interactive application once and have it run on any cable system that supports the specification.

Tru2way requires a fairly powerful set top box. Since the deployment of this new infrastructure will take some time, the industry defined a simplified data format for interactive applications, called EBIF ( Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format ) that can run on legacy boxes with more limited resources.

We believe that writing about interactive apps is no substitute for seeing them in action, so we shot over an hour of video and edited it into 15 segments that we've posted on You Tube and embedded in our report. The video segments are about Panasonic's tru2way, ADBs set-back box, AMDOCS tru2way Service Activation, NDS tru2way Unified User Interface, Alticast, Integra5 MediaFriends, itaas, Zodiac Interactive, TAG Networks (see these at for tru2way. See also for EBIF appications inclduding Starz, Biap and ActiveVideo.

Will this time be the magic charm? The time may finally be right for couch potatoes to spend part of their time interacting and not just blobbing!