and Yahoo have partnered in the development of a hardware and software platform designed to meld television and the Internet.
TV sets, cable set-top boxes and optical media players built with special Intel processors and supporting a Yahoo software framework will allow people to integrate lightweight “widget” applications into their viewing experience.
Just like on a PC today, these widgets will complement the TV experience with online functionality, such as obtaining information from the Web, interacting with friends and buying products from online stores, Intel and Yahoo said Wednesday.
During a demonstration of the technology at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, pressing a button on a remote control produced a toolbar with widgets at the bottom of a TV screen; the widgets could then be activated with the remote.
Yahoo will generate revenue through advertising on the service, Yahoo Vice President Patrick Barry said at IDF.
The Yahoo TV application framework is called the Widget Channel and is designed for consumer electronics devices built with the accompanying Intel system-on-a-chip (SoC) media processors, such as the CE 3100, formerly called Canmore. Based on x86 architecture, the chips enable high-resolution imaging and broadcast TV for consumer electronics devices.
Intel and Yahoo plan to make a Widget Channel development kit available to developers, including TV and other CE device makers, advertisers and publishers. TV viewers will get access to a widget gallery where they can choose the applications they want.
Among the companies planning to develop and deploy widgets are Blockbuster, CBS Interactive, Disney-ABC Television Group, eBay, GE, MTV, Samsung Electronics, Showtime and Toshiba.
Oliver Petry, director of product management of Yahoo Connected TV, said in an interview that there is no specific timetable set for delivery of the components in the project, but that Yahoo and Intel expect to see devices hit the market in early 2009.
Before then, Yahoo expects to publicly release a full development kit for application developers, Petry said.
Although there have been attempts over the years to merge TV and the Internet, Petry said Yahoo and Intel are confident their approach will strike a chord with the mass market.
“TV is a great thing the way it is. We don’t want to replace TV. We want to augment and add value to the TV experience,” Petry said.
In that sense, the widget approach has been designed to be nonintrusive and to adapt to the TV experience by, for example, not requiring viewers to use a keyboard but rather use remote controls for interacting with the applications.
“We want to marry the best approaches from the TV world with the best approaches of the Internet world,” Petry said.