Interactive TV signals new ICE age

WIN commissioned ICE to build an interactive travel application for its "Destinations" program. ICE's enhancements will enable viewers to click through and explore additional information about a holiday destination. They will also be able to click on to a travel consultant and book to travel during the program.

ICE is also building an interactive news application for WIN that will activate responses from viewers. Viewers will be able to vote on topical questions and see the results of polling within news bulletins.

"WIN's interactive version of Destinations will be the first TV program in Australia that has been specifically researched, shot and produced for two-way 'connected' interactive television," said ICE Interactive's managing director, Carl Braden. "For the first time, Australian TV viewers will be able to interact with news and travel programs in real time with a few clicks of their TV remote control," he said.

The new program enhancements are the beginning of many that will be developed for interactive TV before its widespread deployment next year, Braden said. WIN and ICE "jointly came up with the methodology, which enables interactive content to be joined with broadcast content".

Braden adds that as the interactive TV market increases it will have a dramatic effect on content production. ICE and WIN are "only at the tip of the iceberg with information and communication with this medium". Braden labels this tip "the pointy end of convergence".

"WIN has clearly established leadership by exploring ways to transform broadcasting from a one-to-many to an interactive and personalised one-to-one experience. ICE has confirmed its leadership as the leading developer of enhanced TV applications in Australia," said Braden.

Bruce Gordon, WIN's chairman, said that he was pleased with the progress of the ICE trial. "Our interactive travel and news concepts are looking terrific. The information that we will gain from the participating households will provide the first real view to the future. These will be the first true interactive programs in Australia."

This information is expected to aid future T-commerce applications, he added.

According to Braden, the unique difference between T-commerce and e-commerce is that T-commerce is directed into a popular part of the home, the shared family room. "The location of the TV in the lounge room encourages shared decision-making about the family holiday, for example, and creates a new, compelling TV experience for the viewer."

Kerry Kingston, WIN Network's managing director, said that T-commerce is really going to boom in the future. "According to analysts, by 2004 T-commerce will surpass e-commerce. And as digital TV rolls out, T-commerce will take off."

The higher penetration of televisions compared to PCs is the main reason why analysts predict that T-commerce will be larger than e-commerce in the future.

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