Yahoo and Intel to Offer Interactive Widgets For Television Sets

Intel and Yahoo have announced that they are teaming up to bring Web-style interactive applications to television sets. The companies are working together to create software that will give televisions the ability to display the Web without interfering with the programming.

From Reuters:

After years of false starts aimed at bringing the Web to TV sets, Yahoo Inc said on Wednesday it is working with Intel Corp to create Web computer channels that run alongside TV shows.

The Web company and world’s largest chipmaker are working on what they call the “Widget Channel,” which will enable TV viewers to interact with and watch a dynamic set of TV widgets — small Web-based applications that complement TV shows.

Widgets will appear in the corner of a TV screen and work something like a picture-in-picture window of advanced TV sets. These small windows let viewers chat with or e-mail friends, watch videos, track stocks or sports teams or keep up with news headlines or weather by using a TV remote control.

Widget TV services are being designed to run on a new class of Intel chips for consumer electronics that enables high-definition viewing, home-theater-quality audio, 3-D graphics, and the fusion of Internet and TV features.

From the New York Times:

At Intel’s conference for developers in San Francisco, Intel unveiled a new “system on a chip” meant for consumer electronic devices like set-top boxes and digital TVs. Yahoo will provide a software platform that will allow small programs, called “widgets,” to run on those devices.

Yahoo already offers a software platform that allows developers to create widgets for PC desktops and cell phones. The small programs allow people to track news, weather or sports scores, receive e-mails, watch Web videos or photos, or bid on eBay auctions, for example. The software for the Intel systems will be based on the same platform.

From TechCrunch:

The two companies envision a library of small widgets that will be included alongside standard television content. For example, a user could use an eBay widget to monitor the current prices of their active auctions, or a sports widget to keep track of current scores.

The TV Widgets Channel continues to blur the line between a television and a computer with a big screen – it probably won’t be long before the distinction no longer exists. And while I could see some of the widgets coming in handy, they might also turn off a lot of users. For many people, television is an escape from the constant alerts and messages of today’s society. Interactive TV is a neat idea, but sometimes people just want to kick up their feet and relax.

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