Google Teams Up With Sony, Intel For Web-TV

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Google, Intel and Sony are working on Google TV: a service that will funnel search, video, Twitter and other web apps through set-top boxes

Google, Intel and Sony are working on Google TV, a platform and service that will funnel search, video, Twitter and other web applications through set-top boxes and onto televisions, according to The New York Times.

The report comes days after eWEEK US reported that Google was testing a TV service to run TV, web video from YouTube and other applications from a set-top box based on Google’s Android operating system.

Engineers testing prototype Google TV

Google has made a prototype set-top box to test the service, powered by Intel’s Atom processors and tested on televisions made by Sony, the Times said, noting that Intel and Sony are hiring programmers who have experience writing software for Android.

eWEEK US reported the service, allegedly being tested on the Dish Network, would be accessed through a TV remote and a keyboard. The Times said Logitech was creating devices such as a remote with a small keyboard.

Logitech is also looking to hire an “embedded software engineer” with experience building “audio and video products based on the Android platform.” None of the companies involved would comment on the Times‘ report.

Google TV will leverage a version of the Google Chrome web browser, letting users search through the web and video content just as if they were accessing the web from their desktops and mobile phones.

Google applications would be paired with Google’s stock-in-trade digital ads. Twitter, Facebook and associated gaming applications – everything that makes the web on a desktop or mobile phone enjoyable – would be fair game for Google TV.

Open source app development

Fueling the intrigue, the Times also said Google would adopt the open-source Android approach to third-party application development, allowing programmers to build applications for Google TV. This has tremendous potential for programmers who want to build applications for a larger screen.

More than 30,000 applications have been built on Android in just a few years. There’s every reason to believe this same approach would open new opportunities for application developers looking to write software for home-based consumer electronics.

The Google TV platform should come as no surprise. Software makers such as Microsoft and Apple have been trying to funnel the web through users’ home entertainment systems for several years to little success.

Upstarts such as Boxee and Roku have moved the needle forward. Technology and platforms have progressed – and bandwidth had increased – to make this possible.

The Federal Communications current National Broadband Plan, which calls to connect 100 million households to affordable 100 Mbps service, looms large for web-based TV.

Android set-top box

Google TV already exists to a degree. At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, MIPS Technologies, which builds chips and architectures for home entertainment devices, showed off an Android-based set-top box.

This platform included video-on-demand, ThinkFree Office viewer software, a web browser, remote control/keyboard interface and 1080p video quality.

That sounds a lot like what Google is shooting for, through Google would likely port its existing desktop and mobile phone apps and services to Google TV. Read more on TechMeme about this topic here.

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