Yahoo and Intel launch project to build the internet into HDTVs

A new partnership to create what has been called the “Widget Channel” has been announced by Yahoo and Intel.

The pair want to build support into HDTVs that embed Web-enabled “channels” that run alongside TV shows.

Unveiled at the recent Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, the initiative will offer a television application framework developers can use to deploy Internet-based applications designed to be viewed alongside television content.

Powered by Yahoo’s Widget Engine, and run on Intel’s new C3100 chips, which are due in the first half of 2009, the project is specifically aimed at consumer electronics devices.

There are currently no shipping products implementing the hardware and software stack demonstrated in San Francisco.

However, Yahoo and Intel expect consumer electronics-related companies to evaluate the stack over the next year for possible inclusion in products shipping next decade. Those currently backing the Widget Channel include cable operator Comcast.

Eric Kim, senior VP of Intel’s digital home group, said TV would fundamentally change how viewers talk about, imagine, and experience the Internet.

“No longer just a passive experience unless the viewer wants it that way, Intel and Yahoo are proposing a way where the TV and Internet are as interactive, and seamless, as possible,” he said.

Developers will be able to tap into HTML, Flash, XML and JavaScript to create their applications, which will appear in a corner of the screen much like a picture-in-picture frame.

The companies say the Widget Channel will also feature a Widget Gallery that will enable developers to publish their Widgets to both Widget Channel-enabled televisions and other consumer electronics devices.

Intel and Yahoo propose widgets that enable users to tap into existing Internet services like email, eBay, Yahoo Sports, and video rental services, as well as social networking services like Twitter.

What would you like to see appearing on the Widget Channel? And what are the implications for issues such as the spread of viruses to TVs from Yahoo’s announcement? Please send us your comments.

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