Do those colorful Houston Astros or Pittsburgh Pirates throwback jerseys from the 1970s catch your eye? Maybe you saw players wearing them during a SportsCenter highlight, and headed to Google to find out where you could snap one up.
That’s a cinch if you have an always-on wireless laptop at your disposal. In my case, I’d have to get off my sofa, go into another room, turn on my PC, twiddle my thumbs while it boots up, and then go online to search. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could just click on a player’s jersey during the highlight, and have a uniform added to our personal shopping cart?
With tru2way technology, we might. It’s an interactive platform that’s gaining steam as part of our televisions, cable boxes, DVRs and other devices, allowing such “hosts” to deliver two-way communication. Unlike one-way CableCard, which hit a snag when it came to tasks like Video On Demand and Interactive Guide menus, tru2way technology lets viewers indulge in a variety of clickable activities.
“It could be something very much like the Internet, but you’ll just have the display be a TV instead of a PC,” says So Vang, vice president of advanced media platforms for tru2way developer CableLabs. “We’re seeing more and more interactive types of applications, and channel programmers will start to add their own. With T-commerce [e-commerce using digital TV], say you’re watching Tiger Woods and you like his clubs—you’ll be able to click on his bag and get them.”
Tru2way allows for CableCard use, but is being developed so it can work as plug-and-play with any TV manufacturer, cable company and set-top box provider. Vang says middleware fosters this friendliness by acting like a web browser, which makes Yahoo! appear the same when pulled up via Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari. For those who dig Blu-ray’s interactivity, tru2way also employs Java to work similarly.
As of June, cable operators supporting tru2way included Bright House Networks, Cablevision, Charter, Comcast, Cox and Time Warner, while Panasonic, Samsung and Sony also endorse the platform. On the content side, applications showcased during The Cable Show in May included goodies like fantasy sports trackers, music and photo sharing, personalized widgets that give you local search, weather, traffic and news without disrupting your TV program, and social networking functions. You can even put down your BlackBerry and trash-text with buddies over the TV during the Super Bowl.
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Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.