The Cutting Edge of Interactive TV

I’m sitting in George Wright’s talk on interactive TV at Hack Day in London. Here are some random notes…

There are 3 digital TV platforms in the UK (satellite, cable and freeview) whose differences “make the differences between IE and Firefox look trivial”. Interactive TV is different from the web – it is much more mass media, and people dip in and out much more quickly from “the red button” than they would the Internet. Britain is the most advanced country in the world for interactive TV.

BBC are focussing on MHEG, an ISO standard for interactive markup – in particular they have extended the MythTV stack to support it. There’s an IDE and an emacs mode for it, unit tests, etc..

Other alternatives to interactive – iPlayer; delivery of MPEG over multicast; YouTube.

Trying out other devices… Pandora box; ImpossiBOX – Linux device with DVB-T ingest, based on MythTV and bittorrent. Problems with these – big and noisy boxes with high failure rates (compared to the TV itself).

Upcoming stuff:
Tribler (open source version of Joost). Might in the future move towards FOAF-style “I like” friend features for some of these platforms.
PCF (portable content format)… similar to XML for content.

More on MHEG… some limitations around fonts (there is only one supported, additional fonts are bitmaps). Also sometimes have to persuade content providers to change logos etc due to limitations of the 6 million boxes out there. There are interesting things to do with design for TV etc.

… and about midway through the talk, the BTOpenzone network melted. Nice. Back now though…

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