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TI Plans Market Trial Of ‘CompleteTV’ HDTV/Data System

DALLAS -Texas Instruments said it will conduct an in-home pilot program in the Raleigh, N.C. marketplace to study consumer uses for combined HDTV programming and Internet-based information and entertainment.

The program, which TI calls CompleteTV, will gather feedback and information from 20 families over a six-month period.

Dale Zimmerman, TI Digital Light Processing Home Entertainment Systems product manager, said the study will be used to validate TI’s “vision of what home entertainment will look like in the future.”

Texas Instruments will supply the 20 test families with a large-screen, rear-projection HD home entertainment system from Panasonic. It is said to be “very similar” to the PT-52DL10 DLP-based 52W-inch rear-projection HDTV monitor.

The system will include PC interfaces to enable it to act as a multifunctional screen capable of simultaneously delivering HD video and high-resolution graphics. Also included will be a broadband entertainment computer, integrated by Huntington, Calif.-based RKR Video, which specializes in high-level video and PC graphics for home theater applications.

The families will interact with the system via a specialized navigation interface, developed by Emerald Solutions of Portland, Ore., which specializes in e-business solutions and services.

Decisionmark, a developer of Internet-based software and applications serving the broadcasting industry, will provide a program guide and services. Texas Instruments and Malvern, Pa.-based Ravisent will supply the middleware that will allow broadcast video and Internet entertainment to appear simultaneously on the screen.

“Technically, this is a significant challenge for everyone involved,” said Ravisent chief technology officer Mike Harris. “All the elements are there, and all the technologies are in place, but making them work together in a way which is intuitive for the consumer is what makes this project unique. It’s a real pleasure for us to be part of something that has the potential to dramatically improve the home entertainment experience.”

The Raleigh market was selected for the experiment because the CBS affiliate there, WRAL-DT, is offering an aggressive schedule of HDTV broadcasting, including the first regularly scheduled newscasts fully in the 1080i HDTV format. Not coincidentally, Panasonic announced it would help to sponsor and promote those newscasts.

WRAL-DT, which is owned by Capitol Broadcasting Co., operates at 975 kilowatts from a new 2,000-foot tower. Capitol Broadcasting CEO Jim Goodmon has said WRAL-DT is working on datacasting services with strong local content emphasis, including weather casts, sports and other area news and information services.

NOW A/V of Raleigh will supply and demonstrate the HDTV system. TI said the CompleteTV project will begin as soon as potential participant families are identified, contacted and invited to a private demonstration.