KDDI R&D Laboratories have jointly developed a mobile-phone terminal that receives digital terrestrial TV broadcasts with interactive services in conjunction with NHK Science and Technical Research Labs. The two companies are the first in Japan to develop such a product in advance of digital TV broadcasting aimed at mobile terminals, which is due to commence in fiscal 2005. We visited NHK’s open house for a peek at the prototype, a modified Hitachi W11H 3G handset. The demonstration allowed users to watch a newscast and scroll through a menu of relevant links to view different segments, like weather forecasts or sports highlights. Full Program Run-time 4:26, also available in Real Player and QT formats.
Some highlights paraphrased from the press handouts:
The special features of this mobile terminal include full compliance with broadcast makeup language (BML), a data broadcasting standard for mobile terminals in Japan, and it enables the mutual linking of content delivered via mobile Internet and content delivered via broadcast. It is also equipped with an extension function that shares information (such as location data) between telephone handsets and servers and it enables the provision of location data-linked content.
Since data broadcasting is linked to data communications, it is also possible to obtain emergency information issued during natural and other disasters. Furthermore, through the linking of programs that announce information regarding events (such as movies) with communications and the use of GPS data, the user can obtain information regarding the nearest theater that is screening the movie, for example.
Through the use of a video streaming reception function, it is also possible to watch and listen to video that has been taken from a camera angle different than that of the broadcast image, allowing what can be called split-screen viewing. This should be useful during the broadcasting of sports programs, for example.
Our program today provides another big piece of the jigsaw with KDDI and Hitachi now firmly laying their clamshells on the table. As WWJ senior editor Paul Kallender mention’s in the commentary, we’re quite excited watching who is coming out with what as Japan gears up for a new era of interconnectivity between broadcast TV and mobile phones.
If there is one key message in this program, it’s that with NHK’s backing, digital TV phones are not just going to be curiosities; they’ll be mainstream.
As a quasi-governmental organization, NHK is giving us a glimpse of the best of public service infrastructure joining with private technological initiative to provide revolutionary new wireless-based services. Hmmmm… Possibly another great example of Japan’s techno bodypolitic commercializing cool new services through a process that isn’t entirely private but that doesn’t suffer from too much hamfisted government control.
Similarly, the differences between Japan and the rest of the world with respect to 3G policy couldn’t be clearer. Instead of ripping off carriers for billions of dollars, Japan appears to have played smart, treating the 3G business (not just the spectrum) more like a public asset.
As a result, Japan’s carriers have the money to develop great 3G services and with the government’s positive attitude to backing services through public R&D funding (via various channels including NHK), those of us living in Japan will soon be enjoying a level of mobile connectivity and communication that some WWJ watchers in other parts of the world can only dream of! Sorry! But in the meantime, you can watch it unfold here on WWJ…
We just can’t wait for these phones to reach the stores! And when they do, we’ll make sure you hear about it first right here!
— The Editors