The world's first synchronised television and Internet broadcast will go ahead on 18 January next year. The broadcast, a joint venture between TV channel Discovery Japan and NEC, uses new technology called WebSync. WebSync has been in development at NEC for about 18 months. The software allows TV broadcasters, for the first time, to tie their programmes into computer data on the Internet. During the broadcast, of "Titanic - Anatomy of a disaster", viewers will be able to call for information on their computers while watching the programme on TV. For example, information relating to the structure, layout and location of the hapless ship will be available by pressing a series of buttons on a specially designed web site. Synchronisation between Internet content and TV broadcasts is extremely difficult to achieve because of the accuracy of timing required. WebSync uses sound pattern matching technology to update the web content in time with the programme. This technology allows the software to pinpoint exactly which scene of the programme is playing. Once alerted to a particular scene, the software sends out the relevant data to the web site automatically. The initial broadcast in January, however, will only be available to viewers in Japan. UK users can visit the web site at www.nec-global.com. NEC has been working with Discovery Japan to broadcast the presentation since September. "Titanic" may be the first broadcast of its kind, but NEC confirmed that it is in discussion with many other TV programme makers and TV stations. Further announcements are expected next year. PC Week Comment: NEC's technology will undoubtedly offer users a new level of interactivity with broadcast presentations, but the idea that viewers will watch a TV documentary while simultaneously browsing the web for more information indicates that it has a long way to go. Wait till WebTV comes along.
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