I am happy to be here today for the re-birth of Amiga. After spending some quality time with ESCOM management, I am convinced they possess the marketing finesse and strength to make Amiga successful into the 21st century.
Currently, I am Chief Technical officer for VisCorp, an interactive set-top box developer and application designer based In the United States. Our executive offices are in Chicago, and we have engineering teams based in West Chester, Pennsylvania and the Silicon Valley. VisCorp is the first company to be granted a license to use the Amiga technology in interactive a set-tops.
Before I explain why we believe Amiga is the right platform of choice for set-tops, let me explain the current Iandscape of North America set-top offerings.
IT IS A MESS - MASS CONFUSION! Companies are scrambling, forming joint ventures for the purpose of joint ventures ....
We are aware of some 40 set-top projects. Seventeen design wins alone are for Philips chip sets and an OS9 derivative (DAVID), the closest competition for an Amiga offering.
Some of the other set-top projects (or camps) range from pure video games based platforms such as Nintendo, Sony, and Sega to a multi-function, cost prohibitive (in terms of memory) Microsoft-based platform as well as similar offerings from Apple, SUN, and Silicon Graphics. Amiga will find a home between these two ranges in terms of cost/features and the development community.
There is another camp which tend to be as much of a target as a potential partner and includes Scientific Atlanta and General Instrument. They are currently not as strong in computer technology as cable modems, video delivery, and authorisation schemes. There is synergy and relationships will development between Amiga and these two companies in particular.
What is this set-top business all about?
1% homes wired for 2-way high speed data ..
The confusion stems from how this magic, high-speed data arrives to the home is it from a telephone, satellite, radio, cable, or some hybrid? In our model it does not matter We have OEM activities today in all of these areas.
Our present VisCorp model, which is in homes today under the guise of a market test, is a hybrid model utilising both analogue telephone and broadcast data video. When the cable modem and Digital audio and video technologies settle, the federal laws may change as well. Our strategy is to deploy a product that is useful today but provides a migration path to this over hyped high speed, low cost world we don't live in.
The current product;
Over the past few years, we at VisCorp have been developing an interactive set-top platform. The VisCorp product starts by converging the television set with the telephone. It converts the television set into an executives speakerphone with one-touch on screen dialling and caller ID, It has built in filters and font generators to convert on-line data services to text that is readable at standard television viewing distances. It has a built- in credit card reader and it can support electronic directories, classified advertising, and catalogue shopping applications. Other features include on- screen TV listings with one button recording capability, sending faxes and E-mail, and accessing InterNet and multi-participant games (thousands playing simultaneously) that in some cases are tied to live TV events with national scoring in place prizes end cash where legal.
The VisCorp product is currently being tested on a cable system In a Detroit suburb where it is also supporting one-touch ordering of pay-per- view and access to local bulletin board service Including restaurant reviews and local civic information.
So this sounds like a great product. So why the Amiga? Is there something wrong? Absolutely nothing it is our entry model, suitable today, and can be sold at retail 1995 for under $3OO or the price of a feature rich telephone, which it is. We have a custom chip program nearing completion that further cost reduces this product and enables further dimensions in interactive television in terms of the toy Industry and education.
The Amiga-based version will be our second model. We plan to embark on a crash program to further develop a chip set with our combined licences and patented technologies with Amiga functionality. The combined Amiga/VisCorp interactive television platform will support all currently envisioned Interactive applications with the exception of full motion video on demand and practical speed CD Audio delivery. We do not think this is a handicap as a base case offering. Speciality markets or cable customers can be addressed with additional modules.
We encourage an Amiga set-top consortium to be formed immediately. We believe a minimum base case design including encryption technology, if possible, would be supported by consortium members. Since this platform is destined for world markets, a software rating mechanism would include parental lockout of adult features and include reviews, top sellers, etc. This standard must be In place in a similar fashion to that of the movie and music Industry, thereby freeing the software development community to treat it as a guaranteed publishing platform with secure distribution of content and payment. This device which many of us will build in various configurations will handle digitally secured conference calls to movies on demand. The hooks must be in place. Thanks to ESCOM with the Amiga platform, we have an opportunity to change television.