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New Service Taking iTV To Next Level

Dan Bates, CEO of interactive TV startup Creative Frontier is about to bring enhanced television to a new level.

The company recently offered the first public trial of its ClickVision service on Ed McMahon’s The Next Big Star special that aired on PAX TV last month. Using the Creative Frontier service, trial viewers were given the opportunity to watch the program on a TV screen while logging onto a linked Web site using a separate PC to explore a range of interactive features offered live and in-sync with the TV broadcast.

Unlike other interactive TV (iTV) or enhanced TV services such as Wink, viewers were given the chance to move a cursor over objects with embedded links on a streaming video image of the TV show to call up related pictures, text and other applications.

Users were invited to click on an image screen after a “Get Image” button appeared to receive a still image or bio of a performer.

Also included in the trial were the show’s sponsors: Panasonic and Chrysler.

Bates said the Creative Frontier’s system is more compelling and user friendly than other enhanced TV services that have been slow to take off.

“Using our service, you can click on the screen to link to a Web page full of information on the subject material of a TV program. You can click on a car in the program to find out what it is and where you can see one, or click on the screen to find out what an actor is wearing,” Bates explained.

Currently, the system relies on a somewhat cumbersome two-screen method of watching both a TV and a PC to engage the interactive features. But Bates said that his company is now in talks with a host of consumer electronics manufacturers to offer the service in forthcoming interactive video devices, including PC/TVs, Internet-enabled DVD players and Internet-TV terminals of various types and brands.

The service can operate on low-bandwidth Internet connections, and is fully user directed. The Creative Frontiers system can be applied to multiple media formats including any full motion video, DVD, CD-ROM or iTV application.

As for upcoming programming, Bates said the company is working on projects for streaming video programs and in interactive DVDs with embedded links to offer a range of educational services.

Starting in the spring, Creative Frontier will offer its content in three episodes of the children’s educational program Reading Rainbow, which is funded by the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation.

Also in the works is an interactive DVD for the Shoah Foundation, a Steven Spielberg led charity, and Disney Educational Productions will offer a Creative Frontier empowered DVD on the Cold War with both linked streaming applications and embedded interactive content.