AT&T has been showcasing a number of cutting-edge technologies around virtual worlds, surface computing and video at an event in New York.
Video now makes up 40 per cent of AT&T's IP network traffic, compared with a negligible amount only a few years ago, and the firm is focusing on compatibility as it aims to deliver and manage applications for its customers on all devices, fixed or mobile.
The three principle innovations highlighted at the event were:
AT&T is piloting 15 interactive tables in a selection of US retail stores. Mobile handsets have been fitted with RFID tags and placed on the table, which displays device specifications, coverage maps and interactive comparisons if more than one device is present.
The technology saves customers taking paper leaflets away to study specifications and compare devices, and allows them to experience the feel of an actual phone, according to the company.
Eventually, AT&T expects the surface to detect phone information without RFID tags, relying on dimension or weight instead. And in the future, customers will be able to drag and drop ringtones, graphics and video by "grabbing" from the surface and "dropping" into their phones.
U-verse, AT&T's on-command, 100 per cent digital TV offering, is IP-enabled and can connect to any other IP device without the need for a computer in the home.
Users can control their plasma TV using their iPhone as a remote, project iPhone applications onto the large screen and access traffic cameras to view conditions on their route to work.
If a phone rings the caller's details will pop up on the screen, giving the user the opportunity to answer the call, or let the caller leave a message. If a message is left, the user is alerted on the screen and can listen to voicemails through the TV.
AT&T has also designed CollaboraTV (PDF), which allows people to watch TV together from different locations and share their emotions and opinions with friends, who can play it all back later when they watch the same programme.
Video Search and Navigation
Advanced search for video and audio content automatically manages content to make retrieval of required information faster and more accurate, AT&T said.
Information is extracted from within the video content to improve search results, generating content-based visualisations to improve navigation.
Consumers can easily find their chosen content amid thousands of video programmes from a range of sources, and view it on TV, PC or mobile devices.
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