A new interactive television platform is being launched by Electra Entertainment. It is backed by Jonathan Drazin, former chief technology officer of Gemstar-TV Guide, and Jasper Smith, founder of Static 2358. The new middleware claims to be more efficient than competing solutions and works in both broadcast and broadband networks.

Electra says that its technology allows manufacturers of set-top boxes and digital video recorders to offer interactivity comparable with, and in many ways exceeding, that of mainstream pay-television platforms.

Devices download the necessary operating system software and applications over the air, and will normally be updated overnight, allowing services and features to be continuously updated.

An iTrove version of the platform allows data to be delivered simultaneously over both broadcast DVB and broadband IP networks, enabling real-time interaction for live betting, social networking, messaging and audience response.

Originally founded in early 2003, Electra is owned by General Entertainment Technology Corporation, the newly-established holding company that also controls an 81% stake in Static 2358, incorporating the interactive games portal PlayJam. OpenTV retains the remaining share of Static and PlayJam since its recent sale and holds worldwide rights to market the Electra technology to its customers.

Static 2358 manages global operations for the Open TV content business, serving over 40 pay television operators and more than 60 broadcasters around the world. Static developed the PlayJam interactive games channel at the dawn of digital TV in the United Kingdom. The service is now available to over 55 million homes via the Sky, Sky Italia, UPC, Dish, Multichoice and Astro services.

Moving to the Electra platform, they have now developed the Trove service that partners with IPC Media, PlayJam, Cartoon Network amongst other suppliers to deliver targeted applications and advertising to individual set-top boxes and televisions. Broadcasters and operators are able to customise and brand the application, offering free, pay-as-you-go and monthly value packages.

“Electra allows content providers and manufacturers to ‘own’ their digital TV viewers via a rich, sticky, customizable portal that isn’t diluted by individual channel ratings and can be deployed in mass markets to derive a plethora of revenue streams,” said Jasper Smith. “The phenomenal consumer take-up of digital terrestrial television in the UK and the rollouts in Asia and Europe create many exciting opportunities for us to deliver a new era of interactivity to millions of viewers worldwide.”

The Electra Entertainment platform will be launched at the IPTV World Forum in London.