Espial Has High Hopes for Its Multi-Platform Browser Technology

11 May 2001
Earlier this month Celerity Systems, Inc., a leading-edge company in the interactive video and high-speed Internet markets, announced that it will work with technology firm Espial to integrate Espial's Escape multi-platform browser features with Celerity's innovative T 6000 Digital Set Top Box.

The move will help Celerity position itself as the leader in the race for dominance in the interactive television service provider market.

The browser will help provide user-friendly yet robust navigation over the Internet or on the interactive TV digital video server using a remote control or a wireless keyboard and on a TV, a PC or a monitor.

The Escape browser is one of few that supports HTML 4.0 on digital set-top boxes. Celerity will begin using the Espial software with its Rev 5 set-top boxes, which will begin shipping this month.

Bob Egner, vice president of marketing for Espial, says the agreement with Celerity was another big step in the growth of his company and is hoping the move can cement Escape's status as the leading browser for a new form of computing.

The interactive gaming community could also benefit a great deal from the new technology. Egner says the browser's main advantage is its ease in crossing business sectors

"Espial technology is very horizontal," he said. "That is to say that the same code base can be used in a variety of vertical application types. The Escape browser is targeted at smart Internet devices such as Internet appliances; interactive digital televisions, wireless communicators and PDAs; and automotive applications. We consider devices like kiosk, casino, and arcade-type games to be Internet appliances and game terminals to be an extension to interactive TV."

If the multi-sector appeal isn't enough to make Espial an easy sell, Egner points to the fact that the product is unique because it's an independent Java-based browser.

"We are moving into the market in the above-noted application segments, however, our technology has been used in other application types because it is highly configurable," he said. "Additionally, we are working with top consumer electronics companies worldwide and have over 50 design wins completed so far. Interestingly enough, we are the only independent Java browser available in the market today."

The technology advantages don't stop with Java either, according to Egner.

"Our browser, as well as all of our client/device software, is highly brandable and can be customized to meet the memory and screen-size constraints of all types of smart Internet devices," he said. "Additionally, we are very sensitive to the need for standards to support the continued evolution of the Internet. To this end, we are constantly driving our product towards the latest Internet standards such as XML, plug-in support, HTML 4.0 features (DOM, CSS, etc.) and more."

With WAP-enabled phones and PDAs exploding onto the interactive gaming scene, Egner feels the browser could play a key role in advancing the genre.

"One of the key benefits of our product (and of Java in general) is the highly portable nature of the applications," he said. "For gaming operators, it is truly a 'write-once, play-anywhere' proposition. Ultimately, this portability allows applications to be run on any type of device so that you can play a game on your PDA or mobile and have access to the same game in your car or on your TV or desktop computer."

The system then lends itself to lower costs for businesses wanting to integrate the latest technology.

"As you would expect, our solutions also provide a means to shorten development timeframes and lower the risks associated with new consumer electronics because it is a proven and fielded code base that works on many CPUs, OSs, and JVMs," Egner said. "The benefit here is flexibility for the designer to use open tools and avoid being locked into a specific, proprietary platform."

Celerity is also incorporating selected features of Espial DeviceTop, a service-enabled operating environment, into its software package, which will enable Celerity or trained screen authors to create or customize interesting new user experiences, branded portals and applications in markets including hospitality, education, multi-housing facilities, hospitals, assisted living facilities and corporate campuses.

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