Google has used its 2010 I/O conference to announce what it hopes will be the next big thing to hit the living room: Google TV.
According to a live blog from the event over on I4U
, the system will take the form of an Internet-connected set-top box - with future version possibly being integrated directly into TVs - running Google's Android platform and include a Chrome-based web browser and full support for Flash 10.1.
The general principle is that Google TV will allow access to Internet-based content - including streaming video and web searches - without tearing you away from your normal TV viewing. By overlaying the information on top of whatever is currently playing back, it's possible to perform a quick search without stopping watching your favourite programme.
Interestingly, the Google TV boxes will also feature video recording functionality: searching for a programme or channel name will bring up scheduling information, and a 'Record' option will be available for each programme.
One thing that I4U did report on was that the early build boxes used to demonstrate Google TV were somewhat flaky: cries of "can we switch to the other box
" were frequently heard as the demo units become unresponsive during the live demo - not the most auspicious of starts for the new technology.
The company will not be producing the set-top boxes for Google TV itself, but is instead partnering with several manufacturers - including Sony and Logitech, which TweakTown
reports will be producing both a set-top box and a companion controller featuring a keyboard, remote control, and touchpad in a single compact device.
As with many of Google's products, there is one clear thrust to Google TV: advertising. According to GigaOM
, Google's Eric Schmidt sees Google TV as providing a platform to get Google's advertising in front of more eyes than ever before, stating "we can do even more relevant television advertising [with Google TV], which should be worth a lot of money.
If you're curious as to what the Google TV user interface is going to look like, early images have been posted over at BusinessInsider
This isn't the first time a company has attempted to combine the largely passive world of TV watching with the interactive world of the Internet - CNet
has a run-down of previous attempts, and TVs from several manufacturers are starting to appear with in-built Internet access features - but with Google's backing it could well be the first to succeed.
Do you think that Google's TV could be the big thing your living room has been missing, or is the company barking up the wrong tree with this latest venture? Share your thoughts over in the forums