SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - After years of false starts aimed at bringing the Web to TV sets, Yahoo Inc said on Wednesday it is working with Intel Corp to create Web computer channels that run alongside TV shows.
The Web company and world’s largest chipmaker are working on what they call the “Widget Channel,” which will enable TV viewers to interact with and watch a dynamic set of TV widgets -- small Web-based applications that complement TV shows.
Widgets will appear in the corner of a TV screen and work something like a picture-in-picture window of advanced TV sets. These small windows let viewers chat with or e-mail friends, watch videos, track stocks or sports teams or keep up with news headlines or weather by using a TV remote control.
Widget TV services are being designed to run on a new class of Intel chips for consumer electronics that enables high-definition viewing, home-theater-quality audio, 3-D graphics, and the fusion of Internet and TV features.
Devices based on Intel’s CE3100 chip are due in the first half of 2009, Intel said. Comcast Corp, the largest U.S. cable TV operator, said in a separate statement with Intel that it planned to offer TV Widgets next year that work on televisions, set-top boxes and other TV-connected devices.
“TV will fundamentally change how we talk about, imagine and experience the Internet,” Eric Kim, Intel senior vice president and general manager of its Digital Home Group, said in a joint statement with Yahoo.
Intel previewed the new software framework designed for TVs and TV-enabled devices using its chips at its annual developer conference in San Francisco this week.
TV Widgets can be personalized and display information from popular Web services to which viewers belong, including Yahoo Finance or Sports or eBay auctions. Viewers can choose from a what promises to be hundreds or thousands of such widgets.
Among the featured services will be Twitter, a service that lets users keep friends or public spectators updated on daily activities via messages sent from a range of devices.
Major brands set to offer TV Widgets range from electronics makers Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Toshiba Corp MTV and Showtime.
“This is the beginning of a number of distribution announcements that will go beyond content producers to OEMs,” Yahoo spokeswoman May Petry said of deals Yahoo will reveal in coming months with TV makers, known by the industry shorthand of OEMs, or original equipment manufacturers.
Yahoo announced ambitious plans to expand beyond computers onto mobile phones and TVs more than two-and-a-half years ago.
Yahoo’s Connected Life division has since struck dozens of deals with carriers and phone makers to put Yahoo services on cell phones that could eventually reach hundreds of millions of phone users globally.
However, Yahoo’s push into the TV arena has gone significantly slower. Earlier this year, Yahoo announced plans to feature Yahoo widgets on Sony Bravia Web-linked TVs and Yahoo’s Flickr photo-sharing service on Apple TV software.
Additional reporting by Duncan Martell; Editing by Braden Reddall
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