Product Spotlight: BeHere/Philips system

Apr 23, 2001  •  Post A Comment

What it is: A set-top box application that will let viewers actively navigate a panoramic picture-in-picture video stream using a remote-control device. Viewers will be able to choose their view of the TV action from a 360-degree field of vision, replay video highlights or questionable judgment calls and explore venues where the action takes place.
The application will debut at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in the Las Vegas Convention Center in Booth
L-5010 using a 42-inch, 16-by-9 flat-screen TV, development model set-top box, a remote control and a recorded MPEG2 broadcast of a pro basketball game, thanks to the NBA.
Provider: Amsterdam, Netherlands-based Philips Electronics and Silicon Valley’s BeHere, which has provided immersive panoramic video applications to Web sites owned by clients ranging from sports franchises-such as NBA.com, NFL.com and NHL.com-to Fox.com (a tour of the “Ally McBeal” set) and the Democratic National Convention. The Philips demo is the first demonstration of the product for interactive TV. Philips has a minority stake in BeHere.
Key to the process: “BeHere’s interactive technology requires a lot of processing capability,” said Erik Ekkel, general manager of applications for Philips Digital Networks’ set-top box group. “Right now it’s running on a PC. If you want to run an application like this off a set-top box, you need powerful multimedia processing-like Nexpiria.” He noted that Philips’ proprietary multimedia processor (chip) Nexpiria is comparable to a Pentium 3 class processor.
Global experience: “This is a worldwide application,” Mr. Ekkel said. “Of course, you need content to drive the application.”
BeHere is in discussions with broadcasters and content rights owners both in the United States and overseas. It is also in discussions with other set-top-box manufacturers.
Philips plans to use the BeHere demonstration to prompt multiple system operators attending NAB to discuss bundling added-value services into their digital offerings. Philips closed a deal in August with AT&T to supply 1 million set-top boxes by the end of this year or early 2002. But, according to Mr. Ekkel, AT&T hasn’t seen the BeHere app yet.