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Yahoo Widget Channel to Mix TV and Internet

by August 21, 2008

Yahoo revived an old topic again on Wednesday, renewing talk that it is working directly with Intel Corp to create Internet channels that run alongside TV shows. Dubbing this the "Widget Channel," Yahoo is aiming to allow consumers to watch and control a dynamic set of TV widgets or applications. These apps would sit alongside television shows and the technology would be integrated into television sets.

The Yahoo widgets would appear in the corner of the TV screen as window and would be able to be called up by the consumer to allow viewers to chat with or e-mail friends, watch videos, track stocks or sports teams or keep up with news headlines or weather by using the television's remote control.

Intel is designing a new class of chips that will specifically run Widget TV services and will feature high-definition video capabilities, 5.1 audio support, 3D graphics, and the ability to intermingle Internet functionality with specific television program material. Presumably, this means that the holy grail - providing interactivity with television commercials is not far behind - or already part of the plan. As for the Widgets themselves, users could use them to access Twitter, Yahoo Finance, Sports data and stats, or even eBay auctions. Assuming Yahoo makes the Widgets open source (but secure) the possibilities are endless and there will likely be an endless list of potential uses for the technology.

According to Intel, devices based on Intel's CE3100 chip are due by Summer of 2009. Comcast Corp, the largest U.S. cable TV operator, said in a separate statement with Intel that it was planning to offer TV Widgets in 2009 that would work on televisions, set-top boxes and other TV-connected devices. What's exciting about this is that since there is such an obvious monetary potential component to the technology, it might be something that pushes through the trial-ware stage into full production. It is certainly the cable companies like Time Warner Cable and Comcast that will make this a reality if it is to get into the mainstream.

"TV will fundamentally change how we talk about, imagine and experience the Internet," Eric Kim, Intel senior vice president and general manager of its Digital Home Group, said in a joint statement with Yahoo.

Intel has already previewed the new software for TVs and set top boxes using its chips at its annual developer conference in San Francisco which occurred this week.

Samsung and Toshiba are apparently already on board as are content providers MTV and Showtime. According to Intel this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of manufacturers agreeing to com onboard with this new technology.

The Widget Channel runs on top of the fifth generation of Yahoo Widget Engine, a software platform that allows developers to deliver snippets of the Web such as video, news, or e-mail. Programmers can build widgets using popular software including Javascript, XML, HTML and Flash.

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Clint Deboer was terminated from Audioholics for misconduct on April 4th, 2014. He no longer represents Audioholics in any fashion.

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