Wednesday, March 21, 2007

IPTV - open or closed?

While some companies, such as T-Online rely on Microsoft's IPTV platform, the foundation of the OpenIPTV forum, whose founding members are AT&T Inc., Ericsson, France Telecom, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Siemens Networks, Sony, and Telecom Italia was announced last Monday. An excerpt of the pres release reads:

The forum (...) will focus on development of open standards that could help to streamline and accelerate deployments of IPTV technologies

Well, I'm sure that all participating companies have their own interests, so I hope that there will be a common goal (a bit more precise than what we read here). One thing seems sure to me though: IPTV has to offer an added value compared to "ordinary" television - e. g. contextual delivery of visual content on both fixed and mobile devices, and all that at affordable costs. Which means that advertisements will play a major role, perhaps dependent on how much end users are willing to invest.

The Open IPTV Forum plans to establish requirements and architecture specifications as well as protocol specifications later in 2007.

This could well be December 2007 - if taken by the word. However, I hope we'll hear something more concrete and official a bit earlier. My guess is that live broadcasting will be reduced to events where time context is crucial (e. g. sports, news). For other programs, IPTV will be more like a filtered access to archived programs (movies, documentations etc.). At least this would be an advantage for me to have the choice to watch a program depending on whether I have the time to do so - or else, leave it for later. But hey, that's only my very personal opinion.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

David vs. Google

There's some exciting news on search engines. Powerset is a startup whose focus is on natural language search technology and associated with Palo Alto Research Center, Inc. (PARC). Its founder, Dr. Barney Pell, managed to get together a team of excellent scientists that try to break Google's dominance by allowing users to type in whole sentences (as you would ask questions) that are supposed to lead to much better results if comparing this to pure keyword searches. Some more background on the deal with PARC can be found over there.

Seems like a lot of hype going on right now, and whether this is really a breakthrough or not I do not know. They're not the first to try out natural language technology, this is for sure. Assuming that the product really fits its expectations, the next step may be to combine this search engine with voice recognition in order to enable mobile search that really works.

One collaborative scenario that comes to mind is the search for persons of interest beyond the limits of a pre-defined user community. There sure is a large potential, since most anyone has got its own homepage, or weblog somewhere.