Interactive DVD format gets broad support

A new format aiming to bring Web content to consumer DVD players will be built into discs from Disney, New Line and Warner Bros
Written by Matthew Broersma, Contributor

Several hardware and software companies are demonstrating a new technology aimed at bringing the interactive features of DVD-Video discs to the couch-potato set.

InterActual Technologies, which makes widely-used software for adding PC-based interactive content to DVD movie discs, said on Wednesday that it has signed up broad support among movie studios and hardware makers for its new standard, called Enhanced DVD. Interactive features using the Enhanced DVD specification will be able to access Web pages on a television via compatible DVD players.

Interactive features have been part of the draw of DVD discs, with many new releases including PC-oriented extras such as games and links to Web sites.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment (Disney's distribution arm), New Line Home Entertainment, and Warner Home Video have all signed up to support Enhanced DVD, while LSI Logic and Cirrus Logic both announced chips supporting the technology.

InterActual and other companies demonstrated the technology on Wednesday at the Digital Hollywood conference in Beverly Hills, California.

InterActual's format is not an official standard of the DVD Forum, an industry group that develops and coordinates new DVD technologies. But the company has an active role in the Forum's efforts to create a standard, and a future Forum standard could be compatible with Enhanced DVD, InterActual said. InterActual is a voting Principal Member of the Forum and is the chair company of AH1-12, the DVD Forum group working on adding Web capabilities for consumer DVD players.

"The possibilities of this format are endless once DVD-Video can be blended with related, dynamic Internet content and enhanced ROM data for playback on a consumer DVD player," said Jim Wuthrich, vice president of Worldwide Interactive Marketing for Warner Home Video, in a statement.

He cited benefits such as enhanced menus, searchable video, online polls, updated commentaries and biographies and online contests.

Cirrus announced that its CS98200 family will support Enhanced DVD, with a Web browser from Oregan Networks. The chip allows devices to connect to the Internet via Ethernet, DSL and cable modem, or an ordinary modem.

LSI Logic said it would integrate Enhanced DVD into its ZiVA-5 DVD system processor, a single-chip DVD processor. LSI is working with two browser manufacturers, the UK's ANT and Embedded Internet Systems.

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