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Opera Software Could Replace TV Remotes

Leveraging its partnership with IBM, Opera announced a voice-enabled Electronic Program Guide (EPG) for home media yesterday. The software does away with remote controls and lets people interact with their DVD players, DVRs and digital TV set-top boxes.

The announcement signifies Opera’s efforts to make inroads into the home media market with its Web browser solutions and HTML and JavaScript-based presentation engine. Analysts said it is also an opportunity to enter the voice-enabled services market that the Radicati Group predicted would grow to over US$659 by 2006.

“Opera is a leading player in making technology easy and accessible for people in their everyday lives, and the voice-enabled EPG is not science fiction, but a compelling demonstration of what you can do with Web technologies for home media,” says Igor Jablokov, director of Multimodal and Voice Portal at IBM Software Group.

Setting Standards

Opera executives said voice-enabled EPG is multimodal (enabling multiple forms of input and output such as speech, keyboard or handwriting) and is aimed at increasing awareness in the consumer electronics sector of the benefits of voice-enabled Web technologies.

Jon S. von Tetzchner, CEO of Opera Software, said the company’s Web-based presentation environment is ideal for applications like EPGs, Video-on-Demand, Web browsing, and other interactive services because of its speed, standards-compliance and easy customization.

“Operators can brand and specialize their offerings, and end-users can customize the appearance and functionality to their liking,” von Tetzchner said in a statement. “The integration of voice with data is a natural evolution, and has enormous potential in the integrated home media market.”

Innovation Counts

Analysts said Opera continues to stand out in the competitive pack when it comes to innovation. However, the voice-enabled technologies market represents just a small fraction of the Web services pie — at least in terms of the consumer market, according to Jupiter Research analyst Joe Wilcox.

“IBM’s interest makes in voice-enabled technologies makes sense since IBM does sell voice recognition technologies,” Wilcox told LinuxInsider.

“For Opera, it’s just another way to differentiate its product and demonstrate some innovation in the browser market at a time when Internet Explorer is stuck on version six.”

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