With Google set to put its Google TV horse in the race for wedding TV and Internet content this fall, the company has lent its support to the idea of a universal adapter for TVs and related components.
Google July 13 filed a letter of support with the Federal Communications Commission for AllVid, an IP gateway adapter to help consumers search broadcast and video content across disparate TVs, digital video recording machines and other “smart video” devices.
Google’s Media and Telecom Counsel Richard Whitt argued in the filing that while people can buy devices to consume TV content and Web services in the home, locating the desired content remains a burden despite the lack of technological barriers to build such solutions.
“Generally, there are few technical impediments today to building a search index that combines both broadcast and Internet content, so that users can search for accurate and up-to-date information about the availability of video across different platforms,” said Whitt.
“Too often, however, consumers are constrained from easily navigating the universe of available video content on the platform of their choosing.”
The problem, he said, is the lack of an easy-to-use adapter users can purchase at their local Best Buy or Radioshack that would allow them to surf the TV and the Web with ease.
Such navigation devices — likely in the form of a remote control or small appliance — would separate the network interface from the device functionality. This would allow video to move across platforms and devices.
Such converged TV products has been stymied by market fragmentation, lack of standards and competitive issues, Whitt said.
One year ago, it would be hard to envision Google clamoring for such a service. The introduction of Google TV at Google I/O in May changed that.
Google wants to help consumers search for and access TV and Web content across its Chrome browser, part of the company’s ambitious Google TV initiative to put Web applications such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter alongside broadcast content on people’s home televisions.
Google called for “greater regulatory oversight and direction is needed to spur competition” in the digital TV space. The company wants the FCC to spark industry standardization of a metadata stream that flows with the audio-visual signal to enable content search.
This standard would easily shuttle data across the adapter to the consumer, providing accurate and reliable program data.
Asking the government for oversight is normally anathema for Google, which strives to defends itself against any regulatory intervention when it comes to its search engine, ad practices and Web services.
Google, which supports the FCC’s National Broadband Plan to fortify Internet access across the country, also received the FCC’s support for its push to build and test ultra high-speed broadband networks.