Interactive TV specialist OpenTV has unveiled its vision of a 'zoomable' electronic programme guide (EPG) providing viewers with a visually rich interface that builds on the familiar 'grid' layout and adds new navigation formats.
The prototype—demonstrated at last weekend's IBC trade fair in Amsterdam—seeks to solve the growing problem of putting programmes that viewers might want to watch among hundreds of broadcast subscription channels and thousands of video-on-demand choices within easy reach.
OpenTV CEO Jim Chiddix told Lovelace Consulting that most multi-channel subscribers navigated channels merely by using the channel up and down buttons on their remote controls. As a result "a huge number of programmes that would obviously delight people if they only knew they were there" were missed.
So OpenTV has devised what it calls the 'zui': the zoomable user interface. Zui "opens up television" by offering thumbnail image menus in four margins around the screen, allowing the viewer to continue watching the current show while considering other options.
These one-touch access menus are:
- The broadcast margin menu (along the top): revealing what is currently showing on broadcast channels.
- The on-demand margin menu (down the left): showing previously recorded and bookmarked shows and available on-demand content.
- The scenographic margin menu (along the bottom): enabling direct access to scenes within current content.
- The recommendation margin menu (down the right): showing recommended programmes based on what the viewer is watching.
Beyond each menu is a grid with thumbnails suggesting further programmes; for instance beyond the recommendation margin menu is a recommendation grid which suggests programmes viewers are likely to be interested in based on their previous viewing history.
"Today, the central technologies for building and maintaining social networks around the world are the phone and the internet," explained Chiddix.
"OpenTV believes that TV is next, and that the way to survive in this changing world is to embrace, explore, and enable that change. When we say we are 'opening up' television, we are extending our tradition of pioneering middleware and related solutions to new content sources, new navigation models, new forms of television advertising, and new experiences in participation with television."
Lovelace Consulting | 12.09.2006