Cox Communications intends to introduce a new user interface with guide and tru2way applications by July. NDS, the vendor chosen for the project, is burning the midnight oil to make it happen.

Despite the economic downturn, Cox is pushing forward with its commitment to enable tru2way in its digital networks by mid-2009. tru2way is a CableLabs specification based on Java code that allows for interactive applications through newer set-top boxes.

"The budgets for tru2way were set two years ago," said Brian Chamberlin, interactive projects manager with NDS. "That’s a train that’s not stopping. We are trying to meet very aggressive time schedules."

The NDS/Cox deal specifies 11 applications to be delivered by July, said Chamberlin. Those apps cover integrated telephony services, email, news, sports, weather, games, movie listings, Mosaic video channels, widgets, horoscopes and lottery results.

In conjunction with the tru2way applications, Cox will also be rolling out its new user interface, which is also being implemented by NDS.

For consumers, the Cox tru2way rollout is tied to purchasing a box at retail or leasing it from the MSO, said John Civiletto, executive director, core video engineering, Cox Communications. "All the hardware we’ve bought for a while is tru2way capable," he said.

"We designed the user interface for the high definition (HD) environment," said Civiletto. "It’s a whole new paradigm for the user experience." The design has three panes with different navigation floating bars, he added. Cox, however, isn’t sharing screenshots of its user interface yet.

Customers have been complaining for years about the electronic program guides (EPGs) provided by the cable companies and the attendant user interfaces, which often fill up the TV screen with more advertisements than program information.

According to Chamberlin, Cox worked with a design company to create its new user interface in which there is no advertising. "It’s all about the user experience," he said. "They turned to us (NDS) for implementation."

Civiletto said: "We’ve written a new guide for the tru2way space. It’s pretty much a ground up effort. We have high expectations for what we put in front of the customer. It’s a challenging rollout – hardware devices, software stacks, applications on top of it. I think we’re about to get there."

At a Communications Technology/Cisco breakfast at the Cable Show in April, the panelists discussed tru2way.

"I think tru2way is the only product name with the consumer in mind," said Phil Won, senior director, product management, at Time Warner Cable. "tru2way essentially allows apps written in Java to run on different hardware. On the retail side for the first time, it allows the consumer to purchase a cable compatible device."

– Linda Hardesty

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