An Electronic Cornucopia Lab Mixes Cable, Television, Phone
Barker-Benfield, Simon, The Florida Times Union
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
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
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
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. …