ConnecTV is billed as the world’s first social media center for MIPS Android-based embedded platforms. Today it provides an insight into how the digital home may evolve over the next few years as more powerful internet frameworks are rolled out.
Today I got a hands-on preview of the ConnecTV platform produced by Home Jinni. At first it looks like just another GUI for a home media center like you’d see on the AppleTV, Boxee or PopBox. However, after a while you realize this media center software is incredibly powerful and packed with potential.
The platform would be used by any TVs, media centers, cell phones and set top boxes that wanted the technology. There’s also the possibility it would be released as a standalone open-source software for compatible computers reminiscent of Boxee.
Let’s take a hands-on peak…
A Media Center for the Future
Essentially it has the potential to create a set-top-box that has everything. A couple of years ago I dreamed about the DVR of the future, now ConnecTV looks like the platform that could pull it off.
Times are changing though with on-demand web video sneaking into the mainstream, which would make DVR functionality mostly redundant. At least that’s how Shidan Gouran of Home Jinni sees it.
What makes ConnecTV stand out is the speed and seamless integration between devices. It is built for MIPS Android based systems and for use with the faster and more powerful internet framework IMS/4G which looks set to become mainstream over the next 5 years.
Placeshifting, Broadcasting & Home Networked Video
For example, you could flip the video you are watching onto any DLNA device on your home network, or to any other compatible Android device in the world without the need to install additional software. It’s a media extender and placeshifter in one.
The idea is you could literally login from anywhere and move your media between any DLNA devices on your home network.
So imagine you are watching a cool video. Using the social networking feature you could almost instantly stream the video to a friend’s smartphone where it would pop-up right on their screen.
It’s Slingbox and Slingcatcher functionality all in one. Watch your home video collection from anywhere, and send media and video (including live video) to anyone with a compatible device.
Platform Built for Apps
ConnecTV for the most-part is open source allowing anyone to create Apps for the platform.
It is likely that some (probably most) of the manufacturers that would use the platform would decide to lock out third party apps. A cable provider for example would want tight control over what you could do on your media center.
However, it is very likely some forward thinking company would embrace the open source aspect allowing an array of hacks and apps to do almost anything you could imagine with ConnecTV.
Designed for Consumer Electronics
Built from the ground up for Androld, ConnectTV can be embedded directly in all Blu-Ray players, digital TV sets and set-top boxes that support the MIPS Android platform.
- Search and browse for TV content from thousands of websites.
- Stream directly to the TV set without needing a PC or media adaptors.
- Just input what you want to watch and have ConnecTV find it for you across all Internet sources. This can include virtually any online video source the set-top-box manufacturer wants.
- Play media from devices on your home network.
- ConnecTV claims it is the most advanced client for online movie databases and TV meta-data lookup, for example showing a movie synopsis from the IMDB database.
- ConnecTV comes integrated with all popular Soclal Networks including Facebook, Myspace Twitter, Ning, Orkut and all Opensocial sites.
- Social Recommendation Engine, watch what your friends recommend.
- Discover aggregate and search all media in your home network from DLNA devices.
- Just enter what you are looking for and ConnecTV will look for it on your home network and on the net.
- Seamlessly play media on any DLNA device in the home.
- ConnecTV is a full featured DLNA Controller, Media Player and Media Server
- A rich application framework for unified search discovery and aggregation of content from Internet TV and DLNA media sources.
- Plug-in Container
- A powerful component architecture to extend the ConnecTV Internet TV and DLNA framework.
- Example TV application plug-ins include:
- Non Web TV media sources (1MS/Open IPTV, P2P-Next, etc)
- Network IP Camera Controller/NVR
- Chrome Energy Management / Home Automation
The ConnecTV Low Down – Where it Could Go Wrong
ConnecTV certainly makes a promising media center, but it is a long way of from becoming a reality.
The first hurdle is the uptake of the underlying technology. 4G/IMS internet would need to become more mainstream, and the device hosting the software would need to use a MIPS Android platform.
With Google being such a fan of the Android platform, and with 4G/IMS currently looking like the favorite technology for the next internet framework things do look promising in that respect.
However, the key for ConnecTV is partners that would manufacturer devices which use the media center platform. Right now ConnecTV does not have anyone signed up, but CES is the first time the product has been unveiled.
It should be available to OEM partners by the summer of 2010, at which point we’d hope to see ConnecTV finding some solid partners.
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