With CableLabs gearing up for its annual summer conference in Keystone, Colorado, next week, TV UIs are ranking high on the agenda. At least half a dozen companies plan to demonstrate user interface technology highlighting immersive displays, location-based TV experiences, and RDK software solutions.
The user interface is one major area where cable companies regularly get dinged by web-savvy consumers. However, the cable industry is making an effort to improve its image with new investments in technology, ranging from recommendation engines and cloud-based UIs to voice- and motion-controlled hardware and software. (See New Cox Guide Boosts Viewing and Comcast Goes Sci-Fi With Sensor-Driven UI Plans .)
The annual CableLabs Summer Conference is one key opportunity for vendor companies to show off their innovations in UI tech. This year's gathering includes a host of demonstrations designed to push the boundaries of the TV interface.
Bringing a sci-fi flair to the event, Avegant will demo its Virtual Retina Display technology in the form of a new headset product called Glyph. The wearable device doubles as high-performance headphones and a visual display that projects imagery directly into a user's eyes.
The Glyph aims to recreate a natural viewing experience with none of the visual hangover associated with 3D TV. Avegant already has numerous fans in the mainstream gadget press, where The Verge described the Glyph experience as "like watching an 80-inch TV." The company plans to ship its first Glyph products in 2015.
On a related front, Immersive Media will showcase its 360-degree "immersive video platform" at the upcoming conference with technology that it says can deliver video experiences on TVs, mobile devices, the web, and virtual reality products. The platform supports live and on-demand content. Immersive Media already claims numerous big-brand customers are using the technology for 360-degree advertising applications.
4SeTV and NewAer are two companies with new ideas for more traditional TV displays. At the CableLabs conference, 4SeTV will partner with Digital Multimedia Technology (DMT) to demonstrate "the industry's first personalized mosaic mode device." The company says mosaic mode allows users to configure up to four live programs on a screen "via cable or over-the-air broadcast." NewAer, meanwhile, will showcase a new application that automatically streams content from a cloud-based DVR to different set-tops based on where a viewer is located. The application uses proximity sensors that pair with a consumer's mobile device.
Also on tap for the CableLabs event are several HTML5 guide demos built on top of the Reference Design Kit (RDK) software stack. Alticast Corp. and Espial Group Inc. are among those companies with plans to show off their next-generation RDK software and HTML5 guide applications. (See Beyond RDK: A New TV Turf War.)
While both the CableLabs winter and summer conferences are members-only affairs, the events generate media interest in part because attendees deliver a best-in-show prize after the demos are done. Previous winners with a focus on UI technology include Jinni Media Ltd. , for its content discovery engine, and YOUi Labs Inc. , for its gesture-based interface. (See Jinni Puts Cable Guys in the Mood and Motion Control UI Scores Big .)
Other areas of interest at this year's summer conference include WiFi, content delivery solutions, and data analysis technology. One participant, Zerista, has created customized apps for the conference for both the Android and iOS operating systems.
— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading