A little while ago I started reading up on Notube, an EU funded project that aims to explore how technology such as Linked Data can be used with televisions to (amongst other aims) produce personalised content. Inspired by this idea I started thinking about a small example that would build upon my earlier blog post How to use Linked Data on the Samsung Internet@TV platform to produce a personalised view of Open University Podcasts. In order for the example to be useful it would need to use data for the personalisation that was easy for the user to supply using just a remote control. I've got as far as producing a simple prototype that hopefully shows some of the potential of this technology.
Although I have been using Boxee for quite a while both as a user and developing apps the closest I have come to seeing a Boxee Box was holding a prototype in my hands, and it wasn't even switched on. So it was a great opportunity to take up PR agency 33 Digital's open invitation to go see one in operation in their offices in London. They are representing Dlink, the hardware manufacturer for the Boxee Box on the social media scene and run the @dlink_boxee_box Twitter account. It was a great chance to have a play with this innovative bit of hardware and explore what it can do.
A real advantage of Internet powered TV is the opportunity for personalisation and customisation to make it a more compelling and meaningful experience for the viewer, but to support this it helps to have a flexible solution to query the data about what is on offer. Linked Data could be that flexible solution as it makes it possible to send a quite complex query, possibly generated on the fly to a data store. With this in mind I have been experimenting with consuming linked data on a cheap and cheerful blu-ray player that supports the Samsung Internet@TV platform. Using a web developer skill set it is possible to build a web application that runs on the device that has the ability to pass a query directly to a SPARQL endpoint and parse the results.
Just a short post to say that the "Your MP" application for Boxee has been slightly updated. This is an app that lets people in the UK see how their MP is voting in Parliament from the comfort of their armchairs. You don't need to know who your MP is, all you need is your postcode and the app will do the rest for you.
Internet video is largely dominated by short clips. YouTube, probably the most popular video upload service limits the length of individual videos to ten minutes for most accounts. So what happens if you just feel like relaxing in front on the TV, kicking off your shoes and just want to be entertained without having to make lots of decisions on what to watch? Fear not, solutions are emerging to meet this requirement and out of curiosity I sat on my sofa and tried two out: the new YouTube Leanback and Redux.com's “Watch in TV mode”.
I am delighted to announce the release of a new application for Boxee: “Your MP”. The details and background to this application can be found in my original blog post about it: “An experimental Boxee app to keep track of how your MP votes” and at the time I said that if there was sufficient interest in it I would develop it further and release it. I am really pleased that there was interest and thank you to everybody who took the time to comment, tweet and spread the word about the app, I hope you enjoy it now you can use it! Since the original post I have added a couple of extra features too.
Google have now announced that they are to move into the Internet TV market with a platform named “Google TV”. This will aim to bring the world of web content to your TV screen in an easy to use way making video podcasts as easy to find and watch as regular TV programmes. It will not be a single product, but will be available in various products from set top boxes to televisions with the functionality built in. The announcement also came with the news that Google is working with big name partners such as Sony, Intel, Logitech and Adobe to make the product a reality. Engadget has a pretty good round up of the news in its article: Google TV: Everything you ever wanted to know. I believe that this is a very significant announcement and here is why.
We are experiencing interesting times politically in the UK. Maybe many at one point were happy to elect a Member of Parliament once every five years and pretty much let them get on with it. Talking about politics could make people feel uncomfortable, but a wave of recent events such as the expenses scandal and the Digital Economy Act have started to change that. With the election producing a hung parliament every vote of an MP could make or break proposed legislation, but do you know how your MP is voting? There are already excellent websites where you can find this out, but recently I started to wonder if an Internet TV platform like Boxee could be useful in this area, so I built an experimental “app” to try the idea out. Could finding out how your MP votes be like checking the football scores on Ceefax?
ITV is the main terrestrial commercial TV network in the UK. They have a TV catch up service called ITV Player which somewhat unusually delivers programmes not using Flash but instead Microsoft Silverlight, there is a port to Linux called Moonlight, but it doesn't work for me. Today though I found out that the Scottish version of ITV; STV has its own TV-on-demand catchup service, and a rather good one too. Programmes are delivered through Flash, so they can be viewed on Linux, but that is not all; I noticed that the site also has RSS feeds, which is quite unusual for a TV-on-demand service. Naturally I wondered if this feed could be adapted for use on Boxee, so I need never miss X-Factor again.