Consumer electronics group Thomson Multimedia and storage firm Seagate today announced a new joint venture to bring digital storage technology into the home.
CacheVision, which will soon employ 100 people and is equally owned by Thomson and Seagate, will begin operating immediately to develop integrated systems for the world's largest consumer electronics manufacturers. Its systems will use technologies such as disk drives, compression hardware and software, analogue to digital conversion and interface connectivity for CacheVision's OEM (original equipment manufacturer) customers.
According to the new company, advanced consumer electronics storage modules may soon be needed in many consumer electronics devices, including TVs, set-top boxes, personal video recorders (PVRs) and DVD players, to address storage needs.
Researcher IDC predicts that this storage demand will become "massive", particularly in set-top boxes that extend access to the internet, and in next-generation video recorders.
Zarah Damji, research analyst at IDC, said: "Having hard disk drives to store videos will allow people to record two channels at once, or pause programs and resume watching them a couple of minutes behind real time."
CacheVision said the increasing number of programs available through digital cable, satellite and terrestrial TV channels will create a demand for local digital storage capacity, based on hard disk drive technology, to help store and browse hours of content.
It also expects the personalisation of TV, where embedded software learns individual programming preferences and automatically manages storage and replay functions, will also drive demand. Sophisticated tools, such as navigation systems, electronic program guides and preference engines, have a role, but raw storage capacity is still needed to service the demand which expanding TV coverage will create.
Richard Johnson, formerly vice president of Seagate Consumer Solutions Group, which will become part of the new company, has been named president and chief executive of CacheVision.
"We believe the market leaders in consumer electronics will embrace the opportunity to quickly and easily add PVR, caching and other exciting functions to their own new devices today," said Johnson.
CacheVision will harness Seagate's activities over the past three years in defining storage architectures and applications for the consumer market, as well as its existing partnerships with developers such as iCompression, Metabyte Networks, EchoStar and Microsoft WebTV.
Seagate will support CacheVision with disk drive technology optimised for consumer electronics, as well as extensive manufacturing and assembling capabilities.
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