iNovo Spins Out a Set-Top Disc

Based on early appearances, one of iNovo’s first cable video products under development isn’t so much a set-top box than a set-top discus.

One of iNovo’s initial stabs at an IP-only client tailored for cable operators was hiding out in the open at the Alticast booth at last month’s Cable Show in Washington, D.C. The product on display, emblazoned with a Time Warner Cable logo, isn’t ready for prime time yet, but offers an indication that the Duluth, Ga.-based startup, founded by former Cisco Systems and Scientific Atlanta executives, is making some progress.

A person familiar with the device and the partnership between iNovo and set-top software specialist Alticast said the purpose of the demonstration was to show a “working development platform” that uses Time Warner Cable’s “flavor” of the Reference Design Kit (RDK), a pre-integrated bundle of software for IP-connected set-tops and gateways. Comcast, which launched the RDK project as part of an effort to accelerate product development, has signed more than 80 RDK licensees and is eager to have other MSOs adopt the approach.

An iNovo spokesman would only confirm that the device was indeed an IP-only HD client, adding that it was for demonstration purposes only and was not an indication that the vendor and the MSO have a formal relationship. 

But it does indicate where iNovo will place its focus as it develops its set-top strategy. Such an IP-based device would typically be used in tandem with a primary gateway and be capable of supporting cloud-based user interfaces. 

TWC is developing such a gateway-client architecture as it sets the table to deploy a cloud-based navigator in 2014. It’s currently testing the UI with employees in Syracuse, and has plans to expand trials to New York City and Los Angeles later this year. Arris is supporting TWC’s initial rollout of the MSO’s hosted navigation product and related IP-based devices. That deal, centered on a six-tuner,  hybrid IP/QAM gateway called the DCX3600M, came way of an agreement announced in 2011 between the TWC and Motorola Home, which Arris acquired in April.  

iNovo's primary product focus is consumer premises devices for service providers. It has already obtained CableLabs certifications on a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem and an embedded multimedia terminal adapter (E-MTA, or voice-capable modem). iNovo secured $1.845 million in funding last September and is in the process of raising an "A" round of funding.

Michael Harney, a vet of S-A and Cisco, was named CEO of iNovo in August 2012. Among other former Cisco or S-A execs who are part of the iNovo team include chief operating officer Jack Miller; chief technology officer Himanshu Parikh; vice president of engineering Ajith Nair; and principal architect Douglas Woodhead.