Think about your living room – how many remotes are lying around? In the past, you just had one remote for one device, with a handful of channels; but nowadays, if you’re anything like me, you have one for the television, one for the TiVo, one for the Blu-Ray or DVD player, one for the media streamer, one for the receiver, and if you’re old-fashioned maybe one for the VCR as well – and they always get lost. As a result, simply sitting back and watching T.V. has become quite a complicated activity.
“What happens is that every home has an ‘expert’, who knows how to operate everything and gets called whenever something needs to be used,” Gal Frenkel, founder and CEO of Israeli start-up intoatv told Israeli news website Calcalist. “To that problem, add the fact that in the U.S., 66 percent of households have at least 3 televisions. Each device has its own unique user interface, and in an average house you need to operate ten different user interfaces just to watch T.V. It’s a very complex experience.”
Frenkel and co-founder Martin Sabbag are sure they have the solution: a home entertainment system which gathers all the different media sources into one interface – T.V., VOD, online video sources, Blu-Ray, DVD and media stored on PC’s. On top of that, the system can connect to multiple television monitors. “This is what your entertainment system will look like in the future,” Frenkel said, “all in one place, with a single remote and with a single interface.”
In the coming months, the company will launch a test in a number of households, and later market the system to the premium market. Intoatv is also in contact with Yes and Hot (Israel’s cable and satellite providers,) and has already started setting up the required infrastructure in the United States for future cooperation with American cable and satellite providers.
Despite targeting the premium market, the founders explain that their end-goal is to be a significant player in the mass market. “What happens in the premium market, reaches the rest of the market a few years later. For example, in the 70’s only Cadillac and Bentley had electric windows and today every car has them. The same is true for Full HD televisions,” Sabbag said.
The ‘heart’ of the system is a media server, which gathers all the different media sources: TiVo, Blu-Ray player (“you insert the disc once, the server saves the content and you can put the disc back on the shelf,” Frenkel explained), media stored on computers, etc.
The server communicates with dedicated streamers which are connected to every T.V. in the house, and streams the content through them, allowing the system to provide a single user interface regardless of the type of content and regardless of the number of monitors – as long as each monitor has a streamer attached to it.
Intoatv differs from current streaming solutions you may be familiar with as it eliminates the dependency on the computers which store the content: “Say I’m streaming some content from my kid’s computer. What if he turns his computer off? I’m sitting in another room, trying to watch a movie, and can’t understand why it’s not working. When there is just one server, that simply doesn’t happen,” Sabag explained.
While simple streamers are currently available for about $200, intoatv’s system will be initially offered at quite a higher price. They plan to provide the system for under $10,000 for a house with 5 televisions. “Similar systems which provide less features than we do cost 5,000$ for the first monitor, and 2,500$ for each additional monitor,” Frenkel said.