In Focus


Macro Microsoft

Supercomm 2005 last week in Chicago attracted approximately 28,000 attendees from the telco and cable industries. The hot topic of the show was Internet Protocol television (IPTV), and Microsoft took the opportunity to announce several deals, all involving IPTV technology. Scientific-Atlanta, Motorola, Tandberg and Harmonic said they will work with Microsoft to make their products—which include encoders, decoders, set-top boxes and other transmission gear—compatible with Microsoft's IPTV Edition software platform. The platform uses MPEG-4 Part 10 and VC1 to double the picture quality and number of channels that can be delivered to viewers.

A Pronounced Improvement

AgileTV, a leader in developing the technology for voice-activated channel-changing, has signed a deal with SeaChange International for a new voice-activated search and navigation tool called Promptu for video-on-demand services. Compatible with Motorola set-top boxes, the system is already in technical and marketing trials in certain markets. Instead of having to drill down into VOD menus and submenus, users will be able to find a program by simply speaking the name of the program, network, actor or sports team into the remote. Yvette Kanouff, corporate VP of strategic planning for SeaChange, says that, with VOD libraries growing into the thousands of hours, simple access is vital to subscriber happiness. The server-centric voice-recognition service has a database of more than 100,000 phrases, and AgileTV claims voice recognition exceeds 90% accuracy.

Kraft Eager for Avid

Kraft Sports Productions, the production company for the New England Patriots and other Kraft-family businesses, says it will use Avid digital post-production tools to produce football TV shows, including Patriots: All Access, a weekly series seen on ABC affiliate WCVB Boston. The company will use an Avid Unity MediaNetwork shared-storage system, an Avid AirSpeed system for ingesting video material, and an Avid XPress Pro and Avid Media Composer Adrenaline system to handle editing and finishing. Kraft Sports says the new system will remove the need to shuttle tapes back and forth between editing systems, speeding up the production process.