TVBLOB is an Italian software and service development company based in Milan that has created a platform that aims to bring the power of the web to the television, either through closed networks or over the top of existing networks. It is not the first company to attempt to combine the web and television and surely will not be the last, but it seems to have the ingredients of an intriguing proposition.
Through a set-top box called a BLOBbox, TVBLOB aims to offer digital terrestrial television reception and a personal video recorder, with web access, high-definition video podcast subscriptions and BitTorrent downloads, access to online services like YouTube, and sharing and video communication between televisions, all using standard television displays and broadband connections.
The first models will be based on a device from Telsey which looks externally similar to the set-top box used by Tiscali TV. It has twin digital terrestrial tuners and a personal video recorder with 160Gb hard drive. It supports podcasting, with downloads using HTTP, FTP or BitTorrent transports. It also allows streaming from personal computers and remote control through a web interface.
The software platform includes a web standards compliant, Java-based Web browser with support for MHP, Tru2way and Blu-ray interactivity.
TVBlob was co-founded by Fabrizio Caffarelli, who was previously responsible for Easy CD Creator, one of the early software packages that enabled people to burn compact discs. Six years ago he joined forces with Pancrazio Auteri and together they began building a team of about thirty people, mostly engineers, to make their TVBLOG vision a reality.
With broadband service providers such as Tiscali apparently struggling to differentiate their IPTV offerings, a more open platform such as that envisaged by TVBlob may provide a more compelling proposition.