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Interactive DVD Specs Due Soon

27 Jun, 2002 By: David Ward

The DVD Forum's ad-hoc group on Web connectivity and interactivity for DVD players and discs should come up with specifications within the next six months, clearing the way for introduction of Web-enabled players next year.

The ad-hoc group, which consists of 28 companies led by InterActual Technologies CEO and president Todd Collart, was formed in 2000. Despite some disagreements, Collart said their work remains on track.

“There's a lot of interest in trying to get to a specification by the end of this year, and we're looking to get that done,” he said. “So Christmas 2003 could possibly be a viable timeframe for the introduction of product.”

The new standards would apply only to DVD software, and Collart indicated they will be generic so companies will have some freedom to implement additional code on top of the base specifications.

Of course, there already have been DVD machines with Internet connections from companies such as Vialta and iDVDBox. The failed DivX initiative had a significant Web component, too. But Collart and others say the failure of products like WebTV proved consumers don't want traditional PC-like Web surfing via their DVD player. Instead, Collart said the home video divisions of the major studios are looking at simpler online solutions where connectivity is used strictly to link DVD discs designed specifically to augment their content.

InterActual has signed a two-year software distribution and licensing agreement with New Line Home Entertainment for the inclusion of its software on upcoming releases such as The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Blade II and Austin Powers in Goldmember. “There's definitely enthusiasm from the studios, and you can see that from all the movies that are being released with DVD-ROM and PC capabilities,” Collart said.

The features studios already are offering consumers who view movies on their DVD-ROM- equipped PCs include updated bios of performers and directors as well as additional content and commentary that was not ready in time for the DVD launch.

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