Computer processor company AMD is aiming to bring the PC closer to the TV with its Active TV initiative. The idea is to enable consumers to view their digital media on their television more easily. It will allow them to create customised channels and distribute them to television sets around the home, or even share them with family and friends, potentially thousands of miles away.
Users will be able to navigate their media using a remote control and a set-top box or other consumer electronics product that can communicate with their personal computer and other storage devices over a home network.
At the CeBIT trade show in Hannover, AMD is announcing an ecosystem of set-top box and game console manufacturers, middleware providers and content aggregators to deliver Active TV-enabled hardware and software as part of its AMD LIVE! Ready programme.
“We are excited to leverage our open-platform approach and collaborate with industry leaders to help simplify hardware and software choices for consumers’ digital entertainment,” said Joe Menard of AMD.
In fact, Active TV systems are not limited to AMD hardware and are open to any PC platform. AMD is also looking at targeting products such as games consoles like the PlayStation 2, which has sold well over a hundred million units. A company called BroadQ offers a software product that can be loaded on a PS2 to enable it to browse media on connected devices.
AMD has also lined up a number of smaller set-top box providers to offer support and enthusiastic endorsements for its initiative, which is seen as an attempt to build its consumer brand and extend its reach into the consumer electronics domain.
“Active TV represents the future of interactive television viewing and we support this leading-edge technology,” said Alpaslan Karasu of Dream Multimedia. Their Dreamboxes will be compatible and will interoperate with other such products in the home.
“Active TV is creating a new dimension of digital entertainment for consumers, offering the ability to view content previously only available on a PC,” said Christof Winker, founder and chief executive of set-top-box company TeleGent.
“The Active TV ecosystem will transform TV usage in much the same way as Skype has changed telephone usage,” said Jesper Kargaard, chief technology officer of Danish set-top box company Futarque. A low-cost set-top box from Futarque contains software from Orb Networks.
“With Active TV, AMD and its partners can bring consumers the possibility to expand and redefine what the television experience means, and Orb helps puts the consumer in the driver’s seat of that revolution,” said Hervé Utheza of Orb Networks.
“Our integration walks away from traditional thinking that the PC and the set-box can’t work in harmony,” said Hervé. “Giving DVB customers the control to program their media choices — be it broadcast, their own personal media content, or premium and on-demand, online content — delivered over IP and using the power of the open internet — finally delivers on the true promise of IPTV.”
The AMD LIVE! branding programme echoes the Viiv initiative from Intel, its market leading competitor. These have previously seen the media centre computer as the centre of a home entertainment universe, but such systems have yet to become well established.
So far, the convergence of the computer and the television has failed to materialise. The creation of an ecosystem based on open standards could see that convergence come closer, not through consolidation in a single box, but through interoperability across several devices.