Designing a Next-Generation TV Interface

Session Type: Working group
Session Category: Policy, Technical, Creative

Session Leader: Michael Weinberg (Public Knowledge)
Day: Sunday
Room: WA10
Time: 11:30pm – 1:00pm

Session notes

Designing a Next-Generation TV interface

In 1996, Congress took a big step towards increasing competition in the world of cable television. Following in the footsteps of FCC decisions that made it so you didn’t need to rent your phone from the telephone company or get your computer approved by your ISP, Congress told the FCC to put an end to the requirement that cable customers rent their set top boxes from the cable company.

Unfortunately CableCARD, the FCC’s first attempt to pry the cable boxes away from cable companies, did not work very well. CableCARDs never quite worked as well as they should have, the FCC regularly undermined them with waivers, and the vast majority of Americans kept renting their clunky cable boxes from the cable company.

Recently, the FCC decided to take another shot. The initiative, called AllVid, is designed to allow you to access your cable (and satellite) programming however you want without needing a clunky box. Your TV could have its own program guide that was updated since the end of the Soviet era. TV could be integrated into your phone, or your iPad, or your Xbox. Instead of one way to see what was available, devices and devs could compete to create the fastest, best looking, most intuitive program interface.

And, of course, that interface could show you more than just your cable subscription. Want to integrate web video? Go for it. Turn on your TV and see a mix of cable, YouTube, Revision3, and Netflix. Pick a movie and get a list of places to buy it from. Seamlessly switch between watching a live football game and a video of a hamster on a piano. Imagine Boxee with live TV.
This is the promise of AllVid. The AllVid gateway would act like a modem, transforming different kinds of cable or satellite feeds into a single, universal video standard. Any device on your home network could access the video and integrate it into its own interface.

Expected Outcomes

This session will bring together policy wonks, entrepreneurs, and big thinkers to prototype a next-gen TV interface that relies on AllVid or an AllVid-like content gateway.

In a perfect world, what would a truly integrated video interface look like? What information should the AllVid standard include? What should it exclude? What is the best way to bring together all video content from all sources in one interface?