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Active Video Networks: The Future Is Now

In our ongoing podcast series we continue to focus on Internet and interactive TV and the players that are making this revolution possible. Today we spoke with Ed Forman, EVP, Products and Services, for Active Video Networks. Like our friends at Pulse~Link, this is another company most folks have not heard of but they play a crucial role in "making your stuff tick."

In short, Active Video could be considered a lightweight version of Tru2way (formerly known as OpenCable Platform - OCAP) which is being promoted by the cable TV industry in the sense that Active Video's technology does not require hugely bloated set-top box requirements and can be used to enable more basic interactive applications to the currently deployed set-boxes and upcoming Internet-connected TVs. But it can also work as a Tru2Way application, providing a richer, deeper, interactive experience. In essence, they are providing "thin client" technology where the web content, interactivity, and applications are baked into the media stream itself rather than a complex method of caching, buffering, and rendering that is typical in PC-like frameworks.

Click the Podcast interface in the right sidebar to listen to the podcast. Also, see below for a mythical illustration for how Active Video Networks' technology might look from a consumer point-of-view (just an example, no announced plans with Home Depot).

What does this mean for the everyday consumer? Well, if they are successful, it should allow for faster implementation of web and interactive TV deployments. Since their technology leverages the content and applications in the "cloud" (we used to just call it the Internet but now it needs a fancier name I guess), they provide an open application kit to developers for faster service creation, and they don't need a huge amount of processing power to work, in theory they can help service providers and CE vendors alike create revenue-generating services faster and at less cost.

We will be interested in how the Active Video Networks' approach differs from the Yahoo Widgets, IPTV set-top box, and PC-to-HDTV device strategies for getting web/interactive content and applications on your TVs. At the end of the day, consumers care about simplicity, cost, and cool and easy-to-use features that fit in seamlessly with how they watch TV. Whoever gets that right will win the upcoming war for Internet TV consumers.

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