Tru2way is gaining momentum as the new way ahead for interactive television on cable in the United States. Tru2way is the retail brand for OpenCable hardware and OCAP software and will be much in evidence at the annual industry Cable Show in New Orleans. Following a two-day Tru2way developer conference, there will be more than a dozen demonstrations on display.

Tru2way is a software platform, formerly known as OCAP which is in turn based on the European DVB MHP standard. It is designed to enable interactive services to be delivered over cable networks to compatible televisions, set-top boxes and other devices. It is intended to establish a national footprint for the creators of interactive services to develop products that work on cable systems in nearly every market in the United States.

Major cable operators have committed to support the Tru2way platform by the end of 2008. Collectively they operate systems that cover more than 90 million homes across the country, although they will not all be immediately enabled.

The focus on Tru2way and interactive television applications at the Cable Show this year builds on the growing momentum for open specifications that let hardware and software vendors develop innovative capabilities that can be broadly deployed on any cable system or consumer electronics device that supports those specifications.

Comcast will be introducing a national platform for deploying and managing Tru2way applications, including games developed by PixelPlay. “We’re seeing great response from the application developer community for Tru2way technology and for the overall enhanced TV effort,” said Mark Hess, responsible for digital television at Comcast. “The industry’s move toward open CableLabs’ specifications and technology is generating great volumes of application development.”

Cox will be showing their next-generation user interface, developed by NDS. “Tru2way will provide a platform for faster and greater innovation,” said Dallas Clement, who is in charge of strategy and product management at Cox Communications.

Cisco will have a number of Tru2way applications, including a demo of the Time Warner Cable digital navigator programme guide and the new Comcast iGuide.

Navic Networks has developed Tru2Way applications for advanced advertising, audience measurement and customer support, as well as their HyperCast Network which provides management and delivery of EBIF based applications across multiple operators.

Motorola will be showing the media mobility capabilities of its Tru2way platform as well as a personal computer based application development environment.

ActiveVideo Networks, formerly ICTV, will be showing applications that combine the functionality of the web and television.

BIAP will show applications including Yellow Pages and eBay services on television, running on their EBIF User Agent platform.

Ensequence has developed a news and programme guide for CNN, as well as interactive applications for World Wrestling Entertainment and Ford.

QVC is developing the QVC Buy Button, which enables consumers to buy products shown on-air through their remote control using their QVC account.

TVWorks is developing a number of applications including advanced advertising, personal media and communications, enhanced navigation, information and customer service.

The Weather Channel is producing an application for local weather and airport conditions on demand, in conjunction with Vidiom Systems.

Zodiac Interactive will demonstrate their Tru2way Zidget framework for applications such as local search, weather, traffic, sports scores and local news.

Playout systems will be on display from both Softel with their MediaSphere TX and Unisoft with Stategy and Technology with their TSBroadcaster.

ADB is supporting the development of applications with set-top boxes integrated with Tru2way middleware. “ADB realized from an early stage that the development community is vital in designing the applications that will enable the role out of the next generation, commercial Tru2way cable products in the USA,” said Vince Izzo of ADB.

“We’ve been a strong OCAP champion for many years and we’re proud to see it finally gain significant traction and interest from the industry,” said Michael Rivkin, the chief executive of application developers Zodiac. “We’ve always embraced its basic principle, which is the ability to easily develop powerful applications only once, and easily port them across multiple set-tops.”

Zodiac also provides a Java based system it calls PowerRamp which offers a migration path to Tru2way for the millions of legacy set-top boxes that have been deployed.

There certainly seems to be a body of industry support lining up behind Tru2way. After a decade of struggling with a fragmented mix of proprietary and open systems, it seems that everybody recognises the mutual benefit in embracing a more unified standard.

The Cable Show is the 57th annual convention and exhibition presented by the NCTA, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association. This year the convention is in New Orleans. Last year in Las Vegas the event attracted over 250 exhibitors and around 14,000 attendees.