By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
NEW YORK -After more than two years in development, Wink Communications and partners Thomson Consumer Electronics and DirecTV announced the launch of their new satellite-delivered interactive TV services.
DirecTV announced at a recent joint press conference here that it started regionalized downloads of Wink middleware applications that will empower more than 1 million new RCA DirecTV IRDs in the market to receive new interactive broadcasts.
Although Wink features have been offered on a number of advanced analog cable systems and off-air on NBC broadcasts, the DirecTV application-called "DirecTV Interactive powered by Wink"-will be one of the first all-digital implementations of the system.
Viewers will be able to engage in two-way communication with DirecTV and programmers for a variety of functions, including:
Television-based purchasing of products and services in a process called T-commerce." Barnes & Noble.com will be among the first Wink partners to offer T-commerce service on the DirecTV platform.
Enhanced data services using onscreen data overlays to view supplemental information on a TV program being viewed on the same screen. CBS, Fox, NBC and a number of other cable networks, including CNBC, CNN, E!, ESPN, TBS, TNT, TWC and USA have offered enhanced data services.
New dedicated interactive information and news channels from leading content providers.
The first three providers announced are ESPN, NBC and The Weather Channel. Each will provide a full-screen interactive channel that viewers can access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for up-to-the-minute information and entertainment. The Weather Channel, for example, will help DirecTV subscribers access up-to-the-minute localized weather forecasts for their region of the country.
RCA originally announced marketing plans for Wink-capable DirecTV IRDs two years ago and has sold more than 1 million such units into the market. All current-generation DirecTV IRDs are Wink-enabled, with the exception of special units such as the RCA DTC-100 HDTV decoder and the UltimateTV DirecTV personal video recorder.
RCA's Wink-capable models include the DS4440RE, DS4280RE, DS4240RE and DS4120RE systems, as well as models DRD480RE, DRD440RE and DRD420RE.
Additionally, Hughes Network Systems has announced plans to deliver Wink-capable IRDs later in the year.
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