Intel to show devices that bring Internet to TV

Intel plans to show off consumer electronics prototypes that run "widgets," or mini-applications that could complement TV viewing with information from the Internet.

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In an effort to personalise the TV, Intel on Monday said it will show off prototype devices that bring the Internet to the TV viewing experience.

The company plans to show off consumer electronics prototypes that run "widgets," or mini-applications that could complement TV viewing with information from the Internet, the company said.

These widgets will also allow TV watchers to talk to friends in real time or buy products advertised on TV from online stores.

The devices, which could include TV sets or cable set-top boxes, will be shown at the International Consumer Electronics Show, which will be held in Las Vegas between 8 and 11 January.

Intel and Yahoo teamed up at the Intel Developers Forum in August to announce the "Widget Channel," a hardware and software platform designed to meld television and the Internet.

Though no product prototypes were shown, the companies offered developers a software toolkit to create TV applications using languages like Javascript, XML, HTML and Flash. The applications would be compatible with Intel's x86-based chips for devices like set-top boxes.

The prototypes shown at CES will bring The Widget Channel to life, said Mary Ragland, an Intel spokeswoman.

Intel also expects to announce new partnerships with content and service providers for The Widget Channel. The company also will introduce services "moving beyond just leisure and entertainment and television," said Genevieve Bell, an Intel fellow who specializes in studying user interaction with technology.

Televisions have always been interactive, either in the form of game consoles or remote controls, but the Internet will bring a new user experience and level of interactivity, Bell said.

Earlier attempts to bring the Internet to the television have been largely unsuccessful, but some broadband companies are trying to add interactivity to their IPTV networks.

PCCW in Hong Kong is experimenting with ways in which users can upload and share photographs on their IPTV network. It is also conducting an experimental service where users can order an on-demand movie and pizza at the same time.

"Those all are still a bit clunky, but they are interesting indications of where things might move," Bell said.

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