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MOD Shows Off SD Card Technology at Digital Hollywood

6 May, 2009 By: Chris Tribbey

MOD Systems CEO Anthony Bay

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — MOD Systems is on schedule to have a pilot program for its Secure Digital (SD) cards kiosk system up and running later this year and is currently talking with three retailers about hosting the small systems.

“It’s not like they’re not returning our calls,” said MOD CEO Anthony Bay about the retailers, which he would not name. “We’re in the convergence zone. Everyone’s interested in what we’re doing.”

First announced in September, NCR Corp., Toshiba and MOD are hoping hardware companies, consumers and content owners alike will latch on to the idea of the kiosks as a user-friendly way to buy movies, in which a slide of the credit or debit card allows one to download a film to the small SD cards found in hundreds of media devices.

Depending on the success of the pilot program, the company next plans to launch the kiosks in Toshiba’s home of Japan.

Showing off the system May 5 at the Digital Hollywood conference, MOD Product Engineer Ed Shively put an SD card into the kiosk, slid a credit card, made his purchase, and downloaded a Paramount movie in under two minutes. Plugging the card into a PC adapter, the Paramount mountain popped up almost immediately. After the PC, Shively took the card over to a small adapter plugged into an HDTV, and the movie popped up just as quickly. The movies include basic menu and subtitle options, but no DVD-like extras.

While the transfer of the data is quick — more than 100MB per second and up to two terabytes of data on one card — “bridge” devices from third-party manufacturers are still needed to play the movies on HDTVs without SD card slots.

Hoping to avoid any type of confusion at the retail level — similar to some retail employees’ confusion about Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD when they first came out — Bay said that retail employees would only need minimal training on the systems.

“We want to have a concierge approach,” said Brad Gleeson, SVP of business development for MOD. “We want the user interface to be as simple as an ATM or airplane check-in kiosk.”

Currently MOD only has two of the six major studios — Paramount and Warner Bros. — on board for content, but Bay and Gleeson stressed that it’s enough to launch with, and that other content owners would follow if the system is proven effective and attractive. DRM is still built into the movies, preventing illegal copying, and possibly allaying studio copyright concerns.

“With Paramount and Warner Bros., we have a library that’s enough to promote adoption,” Bay said. “We’ll establish ourselves.”

MOD said getting the movies to work on a wide assortment of portable and digital products is “a high priority” and the supply chain savings for studios, when compared to physical disc, should be attractive to any content owner, Bay said.

“Imagine a Redbox model you never have to fill,” Gleeson said.

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