TV EverywhereA slew of announcements about advanced video offerings have emerged from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. Among the most interesting were an announcement from Cisco about a cloud-based version of its Videoscape Unity video service delivery platform, a pair of announcements from Dish Network involving the company’s Hopper multi-room viewing capability, and a couple of announcements about using gestures to control the television set. Also worth noting, Time Warner Cable agreed to make some of its content available through Roku’s delivery platform – a development we covered in a separate post.

Cisco’s Video Platform Moves to the Cloud
Cisco’s new offering includes a cloud-based digital video recorder that enables consumers to use a variety of connected devices to gain DVR-like control of DVR-captured content that can include IP video as well as traditional cable content. The press release doesn’t specify, but “connected devices” that can be used most likely include laptops, tablets and smartphones.

The new offering essentially makes the Videoscape Unity capabilities that Cisco announced last year available as a Cisco-designed, built, and monitored service – and if desired, Cisco also can host the service.

Dish’s Hopper Advances
Like Videoscape Unity, Dish’s new Hopper with Sling offering enables end users to watch DVR-captured content on a variety of devices. The offering is essentially the second generation of Hopper, Dish’s unique DVR that automatically eliminates commercials from recorded programming.

Hopper with Sling supports a new “second-screen” app dubbed Dish Explorer that offers several unique capabilities to end-users who are using a connected device such as a laptop or tablet while watching TV. The app integrates with Facebook and Twitter, can serve as a remote control for Hopper and gives end-users the ability to “discover new and trending content,” Dish said.

Dish’s new DVR also supports what the company calls “Hopper Transfer” capability, which enables end-users to move television recordings to an iPad for viewing when the users are away from an Internet connection – downloading rather than streaming the content. According to a separate Dish announcement focused on Hopper Transfer, a 30-minute program takes five minutes to move to an iPad.

Dish also noted that Hopper Transfer supports Digital Mobile Rights Management technology and that each recording is limited to one download. The Dish announcement does not state how long the download remains on the iPad, but if it’s anything like a similar capability that Comcast announced recently, there most likely is an expiration date after which the content is automatically removed.

Gesture Control Goes Mainstream
The ability to control televisions and other devices by using hand gestures is gaining traction, as two separate CES announcements – one from PointGrab and one from Marvell — reveal.

In the video arena, gesture recognition capability has been available from at least two manufacturers for some time. Microsoft offers the capability, which it calls Kinect, on Xbox gaming consoles and Samsung has offered the capability on certain television sets through an agreement with PointGrab.

PointGrab’s CES announcement focuses on enhancements to its gesture recognition software, which is included on new Samsung televisions announced at CES. According to PointGrab, the new software supports new gestures, including the ability to use two hands to zoom and rotate, “thumbs up” to instantly apply the “like” action on Facebook, and others. The company also says the functions work up to 17 feet in sunny or low-light conditions.

Marvell’s announcement focuses on gesture recognition at the component level. The company now offers what it calls a “turnkey” remote control platform that can be easily incorporated in manufacturers’ products. The platform also supports voice search and has Bluetooth and ZigBee capability. Because it supports the two short-range wireless standards it can be used to control LED lighting control and other devices in the home in addition to television sets, Marvell said.