(UPDATE JAN 2015 – This series was written in 2009. It still gets a lot of visitors and has some valuable info, but be aware that things have moved on a bit)
I’m heading up a fun project at work to build a prototype set-top box that is capable of receiving video from sites like YouTube, Vimeo & Daily Motion, and present them in a user friendly way on a TV.
The box will be built using off-the-shelf hardware and I’ll be detailing the whole process here. At the end I’ll be interested to see if it is possible to replace normal TV viewing with online TV viewing.
There have been a number of attempts at getting online video onto the TV – games consoles, high end TV’s with internet access, specialist set-top boxes. Typically it’s a feature added as an after-thought, it’s restricted, it’s walled-garden. This set-top box will be built from the ground up to work with online video.
There are differences between watching online video on a computer, and watching it on a TV. Understanding these differences will be key to your own success in designing a set-top box.
The goals for this set top box are:
The idea of using a website as the user-interface for a set-top-box is key I think. The advantage will be that the UI can be dynamic and personalized for each individual. It can incorporate live information from the Internet and be improved without the user needing to update software. It will use standard technologies that are widely known.
The parts for the prototype have arrived and I’ll write up the initial hardware build soon.