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OpenTV Proves UI Innovation is a Differentiator

While Christine Heckart, general manager of marketing for Microsoft TV, continues her crusade convincing uninformed telco executives that most consumers initially won’t want a different television experience -- they will “just want basic TV features” -- meaningful innovation is occurring elsewhere.

Informitv reports that interactive television company OpenTV has demonstrated a vision of next-generation TV, with a prototype 'zoomable' user interface (UI). OpenTV claims their UI innovation will fundamentally change the way viewers navigate and choose video programming. OpenTV believes that channel surfing is no longer an adequate way to deal with the expanding range of live, recorded and on-demand programming now available.

The company, which is best known for its interactive television set-top box middleware, is aiming to take a leadership position in defining future navigation models and driving hardware requirements. Matthew Huntington of OpenTV showed Informitv the concept interface, which uses a high-definition widescreen display.

Video icons in the margins of the screen replace textual information, with navigation using familiar directional buttons on the remote control providing one-touch access to the menus.

The really exciting development, IMHO, is their notion of the visual interface to a content suggestion engine. The OpenTV 'recommendation margin' leads to a drill-down display that shows a mosaic of selections personalised to the viewer (see above). The idea is that the system will learn about the tastes of the user and offer material that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.

Now, combine this on-screen interface with a minimalist and intuitive design TV remote control, and I believe that even those early-adopter, very multimedia savvy, younger consumers can be attracted back to the legacy television screen. I also predict that these key influencers would gladly evangelize this new model, and draw in their friends an family members -- creating a compelling cross-segment market development strategy.

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