Skip to main content

Dotcast Has Legs

It wasn't too long ago that a company with the word "dot" in its name had about as much of a chance of getting a warm reception as Jessica Simpson would giving a Mensa convention keynote address. That's all the more reason to be surprised at the ability of Dotcast not only to survive but to find a project like Walt Disney's MovieBeam service that could actually give it some legs.

Dotcast's chip resides in the MovieBeam device and allows it to receive and translate the datacast signal.

Leo Hoarty, Dotcast founder and chief technology officer, today finds himself gearing up for the next big thing, leaving the eventual success or failure of MovieBeam up to the Buena Vista Interactive marketing department. So what's next? Hoarty believes Dotcast's single-ASIC datacasting system providing 1 to 3 Mbps has potential uses not only in the home but outside as well.

It's too early to offer specifics, he says, but he expects the company to make some announcements regarding PC and mobile applications by NAB next year.

The mobile use involves putting in the trunk of a car a box with a hard drive that can receive audio and video material via over-the-air analog datacasting. "It would be interactive content or something like that offered by or the New York Times
spoken edition," he says. "We see a high potential for it in SUVs or minivans that have LCD panels in the backseat."

The Dotcast system piggybacks its datacasting signal onto the analog NTSC carrier, allowing broadcasters to take advantage of the higher-power analog transmitter while waiting for the digital transition to be completed. Currently, it can have up to a 3-Mbps payload within the signal, the tradeoff being speed vs. penetration.

"We want the signal to reach well into the full range of the broadcaster's service area," says Hoarty.

With Dotcast and MovieBeam showing one way to put that signal to use, the trick is building momentum beyond MovieBeam. One application, Hoarty explains, is delivering a broadband-like experience to PC users who can't afford or access broadband services. The content would be delivered to and waiting on users' computers when they sign on, removing the need to transmit content via the Internet.

"We can deliver content for someone like an AOL or Microsoft to the PC or an external box," he says, "and, when the user accesses it, they have a full-motion AOL walled-garden experience rather than static graphics."