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Personal TV

MPEG-4 Players, 3G Smartphones, Video PDAs, Eyeglasses TV and many small video formats make video very personal

Personal and mobile entertainment took off like a rocket with MP3 music players and Apple's iPod. Now, TV is getting personal with specially made video players and general purpose devices that are gaining video capabilities. And it's not just for playback but for recording and conferencing, as well.

In the last 5 years, the PDAs and mobile phones in our pockets have evolved from straight information and communications devices into increasingly cool multimedia entertainment systems. IDC figures that more than 30 million MP3 music players (both flash memory and disk-based) were sold in 2004; vendors are already preparing new video versions. ETforecasts projects that the number of multimedia-capable Windows CE and Pocket PC PDAs will reach 89 million units in 2008. Mobile phone units are difficult to count, but over half a billion phones are sold each year and the latest are sending and receiving video. And infotainment trend like wearable computing, augmented reality and WiFi TV are adding to the video signals zapped to us as we go about our daily lives.

Portable DVD players like the 10 inch Sony unit at right rely on an optical disk drive. Most MP3 players use solid state memory cards that are smaller and faster than DVDs. The next step after MP3 music players are digital video players like this ZVue at left (US$149.95) which uses SD cards. Apple has already taken a step towards video by adding digital photography still video to its latest disk-based iPod, at right. Digital video players accommodate various formats and get their recorded content from PCs, from the Internet and from ripped DVDs.
 

Streaming video, vmail and conferencing to mobile phones like this Sony Ericsson at left rely on the next generation 3G mobile transmission standard like Sprint's PCS Vision in the U.S. for high speed communications. To store all the new mobile video, a new interface standard from Hitachi and Intel will link Hitachi's 4 gigabyte Microdrive to mobile phones and PDAs, holding almost a DVD's-worth of content in a 4.3 cm x 3.6 cm package.
 

Multimedia PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) and smartphones typically use web video standards like Windows Media, MPEG and Quicktime to display video as large as 320 x 240 pixels. PDAs can receive their programming by synching to a desktop PC with a multimedia database, by wireless networking via WiFI, GPRS or 3G, or by SD card or Memory Stick. A unique application of PDA video is augmented reality, overlaying text and graphics data onto real world views. The two examples at right, linked to the IN3 Network blog, show PDA video augmented reality used for video games and architectural visualization.
 

Augmented reality and advanced multimedia entertainment will eventially require that the video screen be permanently visible. Video eyeglasses used in leading edge applications link live data and TV to the user in the operating room, the battlefield or the shop floor. A helmet-mounted LCD, for example, feeds BMW Formula 1 race driver Ralph Schumacher video data about his car's condition and the course ahead.
 

The inevitable technological and commercial evolution of mobile phones and pocket computers promises billions of new video screens worldwide in the next ten years. Faster 3G wireless telecom, pervasive WiFi networking and common SD card image standards will make it easier to get TV to the pocket. Broadcasters looking for their audiences will create new forms for the mobile viewer. The generations that depend on TV will want to carry some in their backpacks.

 

PERSONAL TV RESOURCES

Gizmodo Portable Media new products blog

Engadget Handheld new products blog

Portable Video Player News product reviews and PVP sales

Picturephoning phone camera blog

Jupiter Research Personal Technologies market research

P2PNet peer-to-peer and digital media news

Pocket PC Thoughts Windows Pocket PC news and reviews

ETForecast market research

3GNewsroom 3G news website

MobileBurn high-end mobiledevices and Bluetooth product reviews

3G.co.uk  U.K. 3G news website

 

WHAT, HOW MANY AND WHY?

IN3's Pervasive TV Project examines the shape of the pocket video platform:

The economies of scale of traditional broadcasting don't apply to the onesy-twosey pocket video platforms. Media firms planning personal TV offerings will have to develop new formats that match the pcoket platform.
UPDATED APRIL 4, 2005 BY JACK POWERS, EDITOR


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