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Active Video Sees A La Carte Future


Now with its first consumer
electronics manufacturer partner on board, ActiveVideo
Networks is looking to spread the gospel about its
cloud-based interactive TV technology and the turnkey
solution it is providing CE manufacturers, programming
providers and retailers.

The company recently signed up Funai, which will
implement Active Video Network’s software and backend
server infrastructure on
Philips-branded TVs and
Blu-ray Disc players. Chances
look good that similar offerings
will soon be found on
other products in the Funai
stable of brands as well as
other manufacturers to be
named later.

For an update on where
ActiveVideo Networks
stands now and what to look for in the future, we
caught up to Jeremy Edmonds, the company’s business
development technology director, for the following
Q&A interview:


What is ActiveVideo Network’s goal for
the consumer electronics space today?


We have a Cloud TV platform, which
enables interactive applications to run on connected
devices. We cut our teeth in the cable and IPTV space
and have recently been moving with our first partner
[Funai/Philips] into the consumer electronics space
with the same platform, now targeting connected TVs,
Blu-ray Disc players and other media devices in the
living room.

Our platform runs applications that are DCMLbased,
pretty much like web applications, and are executed
on servers up in the Cloud. The user interface
then streams video down to the TV or Blu-ray player,
where there is a very small client that plays the video
and sends the remote-control keystrokes back to the

The requirements are very lightweight on the device
itself — it has very low requirements for CPU or memory
or any other expensive components that the manufacturers
have to stick in there. But it is very powerful.
We can run Flash-based applications, web-centric applications
that are able to play multiple video streams
or interact with other servers out there for content or
various results, such as information pulled from social
networks or other databases, all combined into a coherent,
interesting experience for the consumer.


Other than Funai/Philips, what other CE
partners are you targeting now for your platform?


We are trying to get into the TV sets
themselves, so we are looking at all the major manufacturers
of connected TVs that are shipping to North
America. Just for ease of deployment we are focusing
on North America first, although we have offices and
partners in Europe and elsewhere that we hope to get
to eventually for this particular deployment.


Who do you see as your primary competitors
in this space?


Since we are deploying a platform with a
lot of potential capabilities that application developers
can use, I would say if you look at similar platforms like
Yahoo! Widgets, Google TV or Boxee as they try to
expand beyond their proprietary box, those are some
of the companies in the same space as us for the type
of platform.


What took so long to announce Funai/Philips
as your first CE partner?


We’ve been doing the proof of concept
on the technology for our own sake to show this is a
viable solution that can run over unmanaged networks
to the majority of North America so that pretty much
anyone with a broadband connection, regardless of
who they are getting that from or what their home network
looks like, will get a reasonable experience from
what we are running. Once talks have progressed with
various CE manufacturers toward doing the integration
and deployment, it’s
gone very fast. Pulling Funai
up to the table and getting
them ready to deploy
has occurred in a matter of
months, not years.


Beyond providing
the necessary infrastructure,
are you also
working with the content
suppliers to bring services
to your platform?


Yes. From ActiveVideo’s perspective,
we are the platform provider for this. We are not in the
long-term a consumer-facing brand, as far as content
aggregators or service providers. We are currently
signing up partners that are interested in running on
this platform and being able to deploy their applications
to these devices. We expect there will be a consumer-
facing brand that will be interested in managing
this in partnership with us moving forward.


Does the device manufacturer embedding
your platform have any flexibility in choosing services
to create some exclusivity or feature differentiation?


Absolutely. And the retailers are also interested
in having both some control over what applications
are available as well as having some branded exclusive
applications for them. It’s a wide-open ecosystem, and
all the players are interested in being able to manage
their brand and what gets sold under their brand.


Beyond streaming media content, what
sorts of interactive applications and services will your
platform deliver?


The first applications we are rolling out
are video-consumption-based. We are doing a suite of games content with at least a dozen different casual
video games along the lines of Bejeweled, poker
and other card games, logic games and a wide range
of titles allowing multi-home, interactive competition
between friends and neighbors. We’ve also got
a Facebook application to be able to see and share
content on the TV screen. We can also do commerce
very easily on here, and in the cable world we partnered
with some of the home shopping channels to
enable online transactions.



A veteran of
more than 15 years in the
digital cable and satellite
industries, Jeremy Edmonds
joined ActiveVideo Networks
in 2005. As technical
business development
director, he is responsible for working with the company’s
business development and engineering teams to shape
products that best meet customer needs.

Prior to joining ActiveVideo Networks, Edmonds was technology
VP and chief technology officer of Switched Media,
a Silicon Valley startup that was acquired by ActiveVideo
(then ICTV) in 2005. Previously, he had been director of
engineering for IVAST and the architect for Microsoft TV’s
Microsoft Response Network application to enable tCommerce

From 1998 to 2001, Edmonds served in a variety of capacities
for DIVA Systems, including leading the development
team for the company’s Interactive Programming Guide client.
With DIVA Systems, he was named as co-inventor on
25 issued patents. Edmonds began his career with General
Instrument (now Motorola) and C-Cube (now Harmonic).


Edmonds has a Bachelor of Science in engineering
from Harvey Mudd College.