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The Itinerant TV Interface

DirecTV, Cisco, Samsung and Broadcom this week announced they have formed the RVU Alliance, dedicated to creating a specification that will provide a “pixel perfect” replication of a device’s user interface that would appear on any (compatible) screen in a connected home.

What’s this all about?

Martin Manniche, CTO of Cisco’s Consumer Business Group, said the idea is to push the notion of a remote UI standard that is able to run in a lightweight footprint while maintaining the exact look and feel of the original device — rather than requiring UIs to run in browser-like environment.

“We are addressing how this runs on a very limited-CPU device, so it can run on a cell phone or any device,” he said. “We see an urgency to bring this to market early.”

DirecTV, for its part, plans to deploy RVU in “media servers and clients” beginning early in 2010, according to CTO Rômulo Pontual.

The RVU Alliance members, Manniche added, are “embracing” the Digital Living Network Alliance specification for home-networking. (The four companies are each DLNA members, too.) “If DLNA wants to use this or part of it, we are totally open to bring that code back into their spec,” he said.

Now, how does the RVU technology determine which user interface to display?

According to the RVU Alliance members, when a  TV or other device is being powered on the first time, the user would be given a choice of which RVU interface to display. The user can change that choice at any time, just like changing the input source.

RVU, by the way, doesn’t stand for anything — it’s simply pronounced “R-view,” meaning “remote view.” The companies are offering “promoter” memberships for a $15,000 annual fee and “contributor” memberships for $8,000 per year.