Seven consumer electronics and technology firms have formed a new company in Tokyo that will enable cable television operators to deliver enhanced video-on-demand and interactive TV services.
National Semiconductor, Pioneer, Sharp, Sigma Designs, CMC Magnetics and two privately held companies, iVAST and Modern VideoFilm, have set up E-Box to target US and Asia Pacific cable operators.
Comcast Cable Communications, which will advise the partners on the technical requirements of the system, is to conduct field trials of the new services early next year.
The companies have developed a new digital cable solution based on MPEG-4 technology.
Services will include video-on-demand with the look and feel of interactive DVD, ecommerce services, bandwidth-efficient delivery of high definition TV and high-capacity personal video recording.
Each member of the joint venture will provide products and services. Pioneer and Sharp will contribute their knowledge of cable infrastructure and digital set-top boxes. National Semiconductor will provide silicon processors for the advanced set-top boxes based on its Geode technology.
Masao Sugimoto, executive corporate engineering adviser at Pioneer, said: "By combining these capabilities we have the ability to provide the industry with the technology and content it needs to bring fresh and exciting entertainment to subscribers."
The partners are consulting with several content providers including some Hollywood studios.
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