A number of leading companies have demonstrated broad support for the OpenCable Application Platform for interactive television, destined for North American digital cable television networks.

The one-week interoperability event at Cable Television Laboratories in Colorado, better known as CableLabs, involved 28 companies, representing hardware platforms, middleware implementations, interactive television applications and network equipment.

Vendors involved included: ADB, Osmosys, Panasonic, Pioneer, Samsung, NDS, LG Electronics, Motorola and Scientific-Atlanta. Vidiom, Zappware, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, and Time Warner Cable Interactive provided OCAP applications and content.

Interactive applications demonstrated for the first time were provided by Emuse, Ensequence, Navic Networks, GoldPocket, BIAP, Walt-Disney-ABC, Showtime, and TV Works, the joint venture between Comcast and Cox.

Playout equipment was provided by UniSoft, Strategy and Technology, Softel-USA, Thales, and DigiSoft.

“This event was highly successful,” said Don Dulchinos, of CableLabs. “The OCAP platform provides a big boost, and a big incentive, for the digital transition.”

A recently-released CableLabs eTV Application Messaging Specification provides the synchronisation and signalling mechanisms to be used by enhanced television applications. “This interoperability event was the first time we’ve seen some of these new apps up and running on a live cable plant,” said Dulchinos.

In addition, Strategy and Technology made a specification available for ensuring that so-called ‘unbound’ applications, such as electronic programme guides and video-on-demand client applications, will continue to run properly regardless of the channel being tuned to by the viewer.

“This specification is key to ensuring the interoperability between application servers from various developers and the headend network equipment being readied for OCAP deployment,” Dulchinos noted.

CableLabs is a non-profit research and development consortium founded by members of the American cable television industry.

The OCAP specification is based on the DVB MHP or Multimedia Home Platform, modified to suit the North American cable television market. It is seen
as a critical component of a common software environment for interactive television across cable operators in the United States.