Santa Clara, Calif. - Macrovision revealed today it has changed its name to Rovi and is now marketing a new multi-faceted integrated graphical user interface that IPTV and CE device designers can implement to simplify the process of finding and selecting digital entertainment content from a wide variety of sources.
Richard Bullwinkle, Rovi's chief evangelist, said the name change, which is taken from a portion of the former Macrovision label, will help the company better reflect its transition from primarily being a content security technology developer to its new role as a developer of digital entertainment content solutions.
Central in this new mission is the Rovi Liquid Media Guide, which is an expanded integrated program guide (IPG) that has evolved out of the TV Guide electronic program guide that Macrovision, as the technology owner, has supplied through TVs and set-top boxes of various types in the past.
"We have shifted our focus from 25 years of protecting content to discovering, recommending and enabling the enjoyment of entertainment content, and we have acquired several companies to help us do that, so we felt that we needed a new unified brand with a common vision," Bullwinkle said. "We have seen a very clear shift from consumers. They are buying more and more of their content online, downloading their content, watching online videos, storing their photos online, and there is no clean way to organize it all and easily play it back.":
The flagship product of the new renamed company is the Liquid Media Guide, which will provide a user friendly interface bringing together a wide range of content choices from many disparate networked sources and devices.
Through its past acquisition of TV Guide, Rovi gained control of a wide portfolio of IPG technology patents, which Macrovision has leveraged in building the new, more expansive Rovi Liquid Media Guide.
In addition to the Macrovision moniker, Bullwinkle said the company is phasing out the TV Guide name for its purposes, using it only to communicate the transition to the new Rovi trademark. The TV Guide trademark will continue to be used by other companies that have licensed it for non-competing uses, he said.
The Rovi Liquid Media Guide was developed after extensive consumer focus studies that found that people have a lot of devices in their homes and are looking for a simplified method of finding all of the content they have scattered around and sharing it with various devices.
Bullwinkle said the studies have found that 74 percent of people start their TV viewing today at some form of onscreen menu.
The Rovi guide will integrate TV programming data, Internet content and personal content (pictures, music and video clips from PCs, servers and other devices) to present programming choices in a friendly, graphical way.
The new media guide solution is comprised of three distinct, but integrated, solutions: a television content guide, a broadband content guide and a personal content guide.
The television content guide is a linear broadcast television discovery solution that CE manufacturers can embed into their devices.
The broadband content guide connects users to their favorite full-length television and movie content for both free and paid services, as well as additional content including Internet video, popular music, social networking and other Internet destinations.
Rovi said it has reached a deal to work with Blockbuster to easily integrate access to Blockbuster OnDemand content and services directly through the Liquid guide.
"This integration will enable consumers to enjoy Blockbuster's growing library of digital content with their family and friends directly and easily on the TV," the company said Thursday.
The Liquid guide is also designed to provide a direct access to content from leading online entertainment services such as Slacker radio and YouTube XL, a Web site that is optimized for watching YouTube videos on large displays. It is also compatible with leading movie technology providers Roxio CinemaNow and Flixster.
The personal content guide component helps consumers navigate their media collections and gives them the ability to share their content from their television screens.
The guide has been designed to assist viewers in finding the content they want to access, and in deciding what they want to watch through recommendations offered by the system based on viewer profiles, by showing artist/actor data with photos and video scene clips, and by presenting content previews in some cases.
The guide will also incorporate recommendations from trusted friends made through various social networks, Bullwinkle said.
Bullwinkle said the guide was designed with emphasis on maintaining the lean-back experience of television watching.
The guide will facilitate the connection of various networked devices throughout a home into a central viewing spot, to simplify the selection process.
To start, the Liquid Media Guide is expected to be placed in higher-end connected TVs, set-top boxes and other devices to aggregate content choices from the Web, connected PCs, video disc players, multi-channel TV services and other areas onto one TV screen.
Bullwinkle said the guide, or a form of it, may eventually be transitioned for use in other devices, "but right now we are focused on connected televisions and set-top boxes early next year. It may eventually appear in things like game consoles, computers and things like that."
Bullwinkle said the initial iteration of the guide will not be optimized for use with Tru2way bi-directional cable devices, but such plans are in the works for later applications.
The guide is software-based and will be built on the platform of the TVs, he said. It will require an ARM processor, but nothing very exotic among plans for next-generation TVs, according to Bullwinkle. It will lean a little more heavily on memory space, he said, but memory costs have become much cheaper, he observed.