An Electronic Cornucopia Lab Mixes Cable, Television, Phone

Article excerpt

Couch potato heaven is one step closer to reality, thanks to

Time Warner Cable's new-product laboratory in Orlando and

Jacksonville-based Barnett Banks Inc.

Now a select group of TV viewers in north Orlando can use their

remote controls to call up a movie, order a pizza, buy an

exerciser -- and get banking on demand when it suits them.

The viewers are participants in a research and development lab

that combines cable TV, computer and telephone technologies and

delivers them over fiber-optic and coaxial cable. It is operated

by Time Warner Full Service Network.

"We are the first in the world to integrate the three

technologies," said Tammy L. Lindsay, a Full Service Network

vice president.

The lab, established two years ago, includes 4,000 customers

who live in the north Orlando area. They serve as a test market

for the digital, fully interactive new products offered via Time

Warner.

The lab's offerings are attracting cable operators from Europe

and the Far East, and the company has already signed a deal with

Singapore Telecom -- a telephone company.

On the boards for next year is full Internet access over the

television without having to buy a computer.

So what does it all mean for the customer?

It means instant interactive access to entertainment,

information and business services at a click on their TV's

remote control.

For Tom Gerry, who works for a company that produces software

for banks, it means he can sit at home, hit a button and choose

one out of 100 -- so far -- movies. He can then hit a button to

freeze a frame while hitting another button to order a pizza to

be delivered, then go back to watch the movie.

Bored with the movie, he and his wife can flip over and watch a

package of news programs from earlier in the day.

Gerry said he likes the improved picture quality that comes

from a digital movie image, the ability to flip back and forth

through the movie schedule instead of having to wait for it to

scroll forward, and being able to skip through the movie in

10-minute increments if he feels like it.

"That is really slick," Gerry said.

Customers can also order games like SenTron. This is a robot

battle game -- and up to 14 other households that subscribe to

Time Warner can compete. …