CES - Cisco set-top boxes on tap for CES

Cisco sets its sights on visual networking

Cisco will demonstrate new and existing products designed to highlight "visual networking" at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week.

Visual networking combines streaming digital video technology and social networking applications. The new products are intended to address the growing Internet video phenomenon, which Cisco said accounts for 40 per cent of Internet traffic, and present it via TV, PC and mobile phone.

Visual networking enables video content to be created, customised, stored and delivered on a wire-to-wireless network, according to Cisco.

"[People] don't want to wait for download; they want it to work like TV works," Cisco's vice-president of consumer marketing, Ken Wirt, said. Cisco's consumer business includes its Linksys line of home networking products, its Scientific-Atlanta set-top boxes, and media and content delivery systems.

"They want to be able to find something, click on it and have it start, and they want it to be in really high quality."

To address that, Cisco will be unveiling several set-top box and IP gateway products and enhancements at CES, Wirt said. The products will feature capabilities such as being able to move video around the home wirelessly, including high-definition signals, and storing various forms of content from various sources.

Among the new and existing products Cisco will highlight at CES are:

-- Next-generation cable set-top boxes and OpenCable applications - The set-top boxes are also designed to stream digital video content through the entire home and offer consumers added storage for storing music, movies, programs and photos. They also feature interactive guide capabilities and search functions.

-- IP set-top boxes and middleware -- Cisco's IP set-top boxes are designed to deliver data, voice and video to many screens such as a television, PC, game station or mobile phone.

-- Linksys media centre extenders -- These work with PCs from most major manufacturers to stream video, including home video, live TV and movies, plus music and photos to other devices in the home.

-- Wireless dual-band home networking technology -- Intended to offer video-grade wireless networking that can help consumers stream video content on media devices throughout the home (compare SMB wireless product).

Wirt said these consumer advances could emerge in the enterprise as well. Businesses could set up their own internal TV studios for sales training and presentations, for example, both live and archived, he said.

Cisco itself produces 300 internal TV shows a month, Wirt said. Some include video data sheets of products that in turn prompt longer visits and generate greater traffic on the Cisco site, he said.

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Jim Duffy

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