W3C Investigates Convergence of Web and TV

Not that long ago the TV screen and the computer monitor were two very separate and distinct devices. That’s no longer the case.

In an effort to try and help guide best practices and standards for a converged world, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has setup a Web and TV Interest Group. The charter for the group is for it to help identify requirements and potential solutions to ensure that the Web will work well with TV. The group recently held a meeting to help identify some of the issues that are currently facing the converged Web and TV world.

Ian Jacobs, Head of W3C Communications, told InternetNews.com that adaptive streaming over HTTP is one of the topics that was discussed. Currently many of the adaptive streaming solutions leverage patented technologies. Jacobs noted that there is strong support at the W3C working group for finding Royalty-Free solutions.

One of the key specifications that the W3C is currently working on is the HTML5 specification. While HTML5 is a specification for web browsers, the standard could help to enable the convergence of Web and TV. Jacobs noted that in general the W3C designs technologies to be device independent.

“On the other hand, there is a lot in HTML5 and other specifications of W3C’s stack of Open Web Platform technologies that is very relevant to television,” Jacobs said.

Among the innovations in HTML5 are new video capabilities that make video a first class citizen of the Web. There is also support for Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG),Fonts (WOFF) and CSS3 which lets you adjust styles to different device environments, do 3D animations, and more.

Jacobs noted that Mobile Web best practices are also important since people want to watch television on mobile devices, not just large sets. He added that real-time communications are also an important component. Jacobs said that as soon as you can communicate real-time (audio, video, text) from within the browser, you can have more interesting interactions between TV and mobile.

“W3C seeks not only to ensure that its standards are interoperable across systems and devices, but that the technologies work together,” Jacobs said. “People will want to build cool apps that run on mobile devices or televisions or desktops or tablets, and they will want all of it to work together, seamlessly.”

Jacobs added that there is already a lot there for television, however, different organizations have different definitions of Web/TV convergence.

“Some can be achieved with HTML5, but we expect continued discussion and debate,” Jacobs said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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