Tuesday, May 25, 2010

GoogleTV - TV Meets Innovation

Google TV Logo

I (MrGeekTonic) started out being a little underwhelmed by GoogleTV’s announcement at first – much like my friend Dave Zatz, but I’ve been trying to keep an open mind about it and listening to those who are closer to the Google action to see what they think.  The following is a guest post by Sean Stuckless, someone who I respect a great deal because of his coding abilities (think SageTV Phoenix – stuff you may not realize yet but soon will) and also for his HTPC insight.  Read on for a look at GoogleTV from an attendee of the Google IO conference.

NOTE:  This is a guest post by Sean, a HTPC guru and developer.  Sean attended the GogleIO conference so I asked him to contribute his thoughts on GoogleTV.  Definitely a must-read for those interested in the future of TV – in particular GoogleTV’s vision.

This past week I had the pleasure of being one of the five thousand people to attend this year's Google IO conference in San Francisco.  There were many highlights, such as releasing the VP8 codec and announcing Android 2.2, but something especially interesting to me was GoogleTV.  I had heard rumors about GoogleTV before, and the presentation on GoogleTV was not exactly impressive.   This was partly because of technical issues and the fact that this is a still a "concept" rather than a full featured product.  But the concept is intriguing.

GoogleTV – Android-Powered

If you are like me, then you have played with many different HTPC platforms over the years.  You routinely hear people asking to surf the net from their TV, and while Google decided to show off that feature, it wasn't the ability to actually surf the net the got my attention.  It was the fact that GoogleTV is built on Android.  Android has a marketplace with 1000s of Applications, many of which will just run on the TV.  Android is a platform with a fast HTML5 capable browser.   Now, at the click of button, you have access to 1000s of applications and rich web applications from your TV, with a way to build a custom TV experience.
Applications can take over the viewing experience, such as a media library manager that will playback HD content from your HTPC server.  Or it may simply sit on top of your current show in some non-obtrusive way.  Consider as case where a twitter feed is displayed down the right hand side of the TV as you are watching American Idol.  You can now engaging your TV shows in way that you could never do before.  Or you are seeing real time content related to your shows as you watch them.

“I think the real potential here is the custom applications that you can access from your TV”

Being able to browse the web from your TV is fine, but I think the real potential here is the custom applications that you can access from your TV.  Install them, remove them; Applications for Media Management, News Feeds, Pod Casts, etc, all from your couch.  And, because it's built on Android, it inherits the capabilities of the Android and Google Cloud platforms.  Consider a case where where you are sitting with your tablet in the living room, and you find a cool YouTube video.  Everyone could simply gather around the tablet and watch the video, or, you can send a message from the tablet to the TV and the TV will begin playing the YouTube video that you have selected in the Tablet.  This isn't simply displaying your content of the tablet on the TV, or firing up a remote application on the Tablet, this is real device communication where one device, such as a Tablet, phone or pc, can send intelligent messages directly to your TV, and your TV will understand what to do with them.   Consider the flip side of this.  What if you were watching a youtube video on your TV, and you had to leave.  You can have your TV send a message from the TV to your Android phone where the phone would automatically start playing the current video from the TV at the current location in the video, but now on your phone, as you leave the house.  This is one the exciting features in the new Android 2.2 release, and it something that will make it's way into GoogleTV. 

“Allowing your TV to become an extension of your existing devices”

GoogleTV is a much more innovative concept than simply watching the web on your TV, or searching for content from your TV, although that's part of it.  GoogleTV is making your TV interactive in way that has never been done before, and allowing your TV to become an extension of your existing devices. 



About the author:  Sean got his first taste of computers at young age of 7, entering byte code from magazines on his VIC20.  Since that time he's owned a Commodore64, a CoCo3, and numerous x86 machines (he currently have 7 active PCs in his home).   When he's not working diligently for a large software corporation architecting software, he spends his spare time tinkering with his SageTV setup and writing code for various SageTV projects, include Sage Remote APIs, Batch Metadata Tools, and the ever so secret Phoenix Initiative (not to be confused with the Dharma Initiative).  Sean currently lives in a small city in Southwestern Ontario, and he's really looking forward to Golf season to start.  At which time, his indoor hobbies take a backseat to great outdoors.