Not only will your our TV remote soon get smarter and more usable, but it will also feel more natural to use. With controls based on gestures rather than directional buttons, the new controls will change the way viewers find and interact with content.
Navigating a browser with a plain old TV remote is no fun. Hillcrest Labs wants to improve that experience with point-and-click input devices, and the company just secured an additional round of funding to deal with the increased demand for a different kind of remote control.
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Kylo, the web video browser software from Hillcrest Labs, was blocked from accessing Hulu just hours after it launched back in March. Now the software been updated with a new workaround that will allow users to watch Hulu videos. But how long will the hack work?
UPDATED Well that was fast. If you’ve tried using the Kylo web video browser, which was just launched this morning, you might have noticed something funny while trying to connect to videos from Hulu — that is, that they’re unavailable. Users can connect to the Hulu site through the software, but are not able to watch any Hulu videos.
When clicking on a video, Kylo users are met with the following message: “Unfortunately, this video is not available on your platform. We apologize for any inconvenience.”
Hillcrest Labs has unveiled a new browser application called Kylo that is designed to make it easier for users to navigate web video content on their TV. Like Boxee, Kylo hopes to capitalize on the trend of consumers who are hooking their PCs to their TVs for watching on-demand video content, by providing an intuitive interface for watching online shows.
Kylo is available as a free download from www.kylo.tv. After installing the browser, you’re met with a welcome screen that offers a wide range of web video content providers, including everything from YouTube (s GOOG) and independent web producers like Revision3, to traditional broadcasters like ABC (s DIS), CBS (s CBS), NBC (s GE) and Fox (S NWS). There are also a number of other applications available, so you can browse Facebook on the big screen, or listen to streaming music via Pandora. But the big selling point is clearly web video.
Hillcrest Labs threw its hat into the motion-control game this week with the release of its Loop pointer to the consumer market. Up until now, the Loop wasn’t meant for the average Joe. Hillcrest was going to just continue licensing the Freespace technology built into the device to third-party manufacturers. But with consumers facing more content choices on their TVs, Hillcrest saw an opportunity. Will buttons become a thing of the past and motion controls the new norm?
Motion- or gesture-controlled devices are hot right now. Nintendo’s Wii cleverly introduced the concept and got millions of people (including yours truly) hooked on flailing their arms while playing tennis in the living room with friends. Now other companies, including Hillcrest and Microsoft, are looking to take those gesture controls beyond just games and into your everyday TV experience.
Hillcrest’s Loop is a sleek, circular device that allows you to control your PC — or your video experience when your PC is connected to your TV — by simply pointing at the screen and selecting what you want. For those who have played with the Wii, the experience is very similar. In fact, Hillcrest is suing Nintendo for patent infringement. A Hillcrest representative wouldn’t comment on the suit other than to say it is ongoing.
The Participatory Culture Foundation (PCF) unveiled version 2.0 of its open-source video player, Miro, yesterday. The new version features a revamped UI, a smaller memory footprint and the ability to access streaming video sites like Hulu.com from right within the client. We covered those changes in greater detail a few weeks back, and others have added their own take. However, one important new feature so far hasn’t gotten much coverage at all: Miro’s new channel guide.
Miro uses the guide to offer easy access to more than 4,000 web video shows and podcasts. Users can also access the guide on the web and use it to stream or download shows from right within their browser. The folks from the PCF have been comparing the site to other web video program guides like Odeo, but it’s fairly obvious that they’re really trying to replace the one content catalog that rules them all: the podcast directory of Apple’s (s aapl) iTunes Store. And they might just do it, too.
During his keynote address at NewTeeVee Live, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings talked about abandoning the 50-button TV remote as we know it, in favor of a pointer device like the one used by the Wii. There actually is a company already building such a pointer remote device, and we’ve got a video demo of it, if you want to see a glimpse of the future Hastings described.
Earlier this year, Hillcrest Labs trotted out its “concept car” of a TV remote, which uses the Freespace motion control technology. It was a loop that you pointed at the screen to scroll through options and select your content. (It has anti-tremor technology built into the device so the on-screen pointer doesn’t shake as you try to steady your hand — neat!) Hillcrest wouldn’t actually make the remotes, but rather license the technology out to consumer electronics companies to manufacture. Read More about Hastings: You’ll Control Your TV with This
Hillcrest Labs, a Rockville, Mnd.-based startup, says it has filed complaints for patent infringement against Nintendo, related to the Wii video game system. The company claims that many consumer electronics companies (not disclosed publicly) have licensed Hillcrest’s technologies.