It's a Good Time to Know EBIF and MPEG-2

Those lists that cite careers with the greatest growth opportunities might need to start adding engineers in TV technology to health care and renewable energy. Oh, the places the brainy will go!

Awesome advances in content and advertising distribution platforms continue at a mind-spinning pace. And there are few signs that investment from the likes of Cablevision, Microsoft or Motorola will dry up.

(On the engineering job front, headhunters surely have loads of choice options. Know the ins and outs of Enhanced Binary Interchange Format (EBIF) or MPEG-2 Transport and one's value only goes up.)

Seemingly, the tech companies - and yes, cable and satellite operators now count along with the likes of Microsoft -- have few worries about how many consumers want or will use any of this magic. Just keep building - don't let a Facebook or Apple win this time - and hope adoption will follow.

Particular areas of test-and-learn are interactive advertising, connected TVs and mobile viewing.



As the national Cable Show showcases some of these innovations this week, Cablevision announced an impressive advancement in interactive advertising: email marketing. It's an evolution of "request for information (RFI)" advertising, where viewers are able to use a remote control to have a sample or coupon of an advertised product sent to them through the mail.

Now, the clicking can bring a special offer with an email. Electronic "fulfillment" allows a marketer to act with more speed for a lesser cost. Cablevision offers the RFI activity in its New York footprint. One brand has used the email function and others are at the ready, the company says.

This comes as start-up IntoNow, now part of Yahoo, has launched a system that melds interactive TV with mobile advertising. (Or is it mobile TV and interactive advertising?)

The system allows a user to point an Apple device at a TV screen, where an audio signal recognizes what's being watched and allows the relaying of information to a Facebook page or Twitter feed. In advertising, the functionality allows pointing and clicking at an ad, where a barcode can be sent back to the phone, which can be redeemed at a store for a free product.

With connected or smart TVs, sales of the devices are projected to grow, but who knows about use of all the apps. Do people want to comment about "The Bachelor" on a Twitter feed while watching? If so, that would turn the premise that TV is a passive, lean-back medium on its head.

Nonetheless, the race is on to come up with the most compelling apps. Comcast and Skype (which is becoming part of Microsoft) are launching a new functionality allowing video chatting - in high definition -- through the TV screen later this year.

Talk about reality TV. Can't make it to the bris? Watch it on the big screen. Maybe, there could be some close-ups.

In mobile TV, broadcasters are increasingly offering simulcasts on certain devices. Then, there are the much-talked-about initiatives by Cablevision and Time Warner Cable to allow live TV in the home on iPads. 

Meanwhile, Motorola is offering a new technology, "Televation," that will allow people to view live TV on a slew of devices around the house, "whether they are preparing food in the kitchen or relaxing in the backyard."

The full-court press for TV innovation that will bring revenue to advertisers, distributors and manufacturers means appy days are here for an engineering mind.

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