The 200 cable operators attending CableLabs Summer Conference (Aug. 10-13) voted Silicon Image’s digital connectivity technology "Best New Product Idea."

A publicly traded semiconductor and intellectual property-based company, Silicon Image works in standards-based digital connectivity and interface solutions technology – particularly high definition multimedia interface (HDMI). At the Summer Conference, the company demonstrated technology that enables the distribution of HD-quality video and "pixel accurate" user interfaces (UIs) to any consumer electronics (CE) device.

In other words, in addition to watching a program ordered and saved on another DVR, a viewer using CE devices integrated with Silicon Image’s new digital connectivity ("Echocast") architecture would also see the same programming guide.

"It looks exactly as it would if directly connected to the set-top box. The guide needs to be preserved no matter where it is shown," said Steve Tirado, Silicon Image president and CEO.

Tirado said the company would start sampling a chip at the end of this year, with trials in early 2009. Commercial availability of the technology could come in late 2009 or 2010. The initial iteration will apply to TV sets and set-top boxes, and the chip will cost $8 to $10. Multiple devices Eventually, consumers using Echocast-enabled devices would be able to transfer and view programming not only in a multi-room DVR scenario, but also on additional CE devices, including PCs and cell phones. That impressed Tony Werner, Comcast’s chief technology officer.

"Its real benefit could be its ability to help get cable providers’ content and applications to multiple consumer devices," Werner said in a statement released after the event.

Viewers would even be able to connect to a network wirelessly and display content in someone else’s home. The technology suite also will include a security component and device discovery.

"When you plug into the network, a little icon will appear that tells you a device is available to send you content," Tirado said. "If you click on it, the screen would be what would come up if you were directly connected." Technology showcases Silicon Image was one of eleven companies that demonstrated technology at CableLabs’ summer event.

Other participants included Telcordia, which demonstrated a multi-modal advanced advertising solution; SeaChange International, which featured Axiom On Demand software and systems, specifically SeaChange Affinity, a socially networked recommendation engine; PeerApp, which showed how its upstream caching technology can be used as a network optimization tool; and Sigma Systems, which showcased its subscriber information system interface.

These member polls are becoming a fixture at CableLabs events. At this year’s Winter Conference, voting attendees gave the nod to Ruckus Wireless; at the Summer Conference in 2007, members voted for Harmonic’s cable IPTV solution.

– Monta Monaco Hernon

The Daily

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