‘Xogo’ Adapter Could Factor Into Cable’s Accessibility Efforts

A customizable adapter developed by a Pittsburgh-based startup could eventually help people with disabilities make a stronger connection with cable set-tops and cable services.

Bansen Labs, the company behind Xogo, an adapter that can connect to gaming consoles, set-tops and other types of consumer electronics, came away as the winner of the latest CableLabs Innovation Showcase, an event held last week in Orlando, Fla., in conjunction with the CableLabs Winter Conference.

The Xogo adapter helps people with disabilities control those CE products by linking standard controllers to their own assistive technologies via regular connectivity platforms like USB, Bluetooth and WiFi.

Bansen Labs said Xogo (pronounced “Zogo”) is currently designed to work with consoles such as the Xbox One, PlayStation 3 and PS4, and Nintendo GameCube, as well as multiple types of cable boxes. Such a product could factor into the cable industry’s ongoing accessibility efforts.

Ray Abel, CEO of Bansen Labs, told The Wire his company is engaged with a couple of companies in the industry, including an unnamed service provider and a cable product vendor, and has several meetings arranged with other cable operators that might want to make the Xogo available.

“Distribution through cable companies would be amazing,” Abel said.

Near-term plans include refining the Xogo’s integration with set-tops that would allow for wireless connectivity.

Bansen Labs is also talking to vendors about integrating the Xogo technology into the set-top. Banson Labs is currently running demos using a prototype of the Xogo, but has plans to introduce a commercial, retail version by this September or October. The company has yet to announce pricing, but aims for an adapter that is much more affordable than some of the proprietary, extremely expensive products now on the market.

Bansen Labs is also considering a closer relationship with UpRamp, a CableLabs-backed program focused on tech startups. To be part of its “Fiterator” program, UpRamp requests a small, 3% equity stake, as warrants, from each private company that participates. In exchange, the startups get valuable exposure with cable operators and guaranteed commercial deals.

Other companies that competed in last week’s Innovation Showcase included Gryphon, maker of a secure WiFi router that uses AI-based learning to allow access to child-appropriate Internet content; Filtrie, a free, opt-in service that delivers relevant TV ads based on the viewer’s likes and interests; Kwikbit, a startup focused on a Gigabit wireless network-as-a-service model; Virtual Power Systems, a company focused on how data centers provision, manage and utilize power capacity; Sedona Systems, maker of NetFusion, a software-defined networking platform; Perytons, which makes analyzers for standard and proprietary communication protocols for the monitoring and analysis of remote networks; Sentiance, focused on smart devices, services and apps; and Telestax, a maker of real-time communications middleware targeted at collaboration solutions for enterprises, software developers and service providers.

With Cotto-Kirkland Off, PPV Boxing Down but Not Out

After a subpar 2016 campaign, the pay-per-view boxing category suffered its first knockout of 2017 with the cancellation of HBO’s Feb. 25 Miguel Cotto-James Kirkland card. But take heart, boxing fans: Several PPV boxing events are still available to choose from over the next few weeks.

The Wire has not determined yet whether HBO will reschedule the Cotto-Kirkland fight, cancelled on Feb. 2 after Kirkland reportedly suffered a fractured nose, according to the fight’s promotion company, Roc Nation. HBO now will focus on the March 18 PPV fight between middleweight champions Gennady Golovkin and Daniel Jacobs. Also on the docket for HBO is a May 6 PPV fight between Canelo Alvarez and Julio César Chávez Jr., according to the network.

Meanwhile, veteran boxer Roy Jones Jr. will return to the PPV ring Feb. 17 in a fight against Bobby Gunn, according to industry executives.

And on Feb. 24, former super middleweight champion Lucian Bute will fight light heavyweight contender Eleider Álvarez in the main event of a PPV card from Quebec. The winner of the fight is expected to meet light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson later in the year, according to published reports.

— R. Thomas Umstead

The Bus Starts Here: C-SPAN Revamps Rolling Legislative Thunder

C-SPAN last week unveiled the redesigned mobile civics lesson known as the C-SPAN bus, which will be traveling under a new tagline: “Where History Unfolds Daily.”

The 45-foot bus is chock full of interactive technology to engage the public, specifically students (of all ages), with C-SPAN’s trove of political history — nearly 230,000 hours of footage.

Among the extras on the bus are six Samsung tablets, HD cameras and production equipment, a new bus app, and mobile device demonstrations of the multiple platforms on which C-SPAN can be accessed — YouTube, Twitter and a C-SPAN Radio app.

C-SPAN’s bus has been on the road for almost a quarter century, riding along with local cable affiliates — the network is a public service of the cable industry — to visit schools and community centers. C-SPAN will need to unfold a map, as well as history, as the bus (pictured parked, appropriately enough, along the Potomac River) prepares to hit the road for a tour of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (February is Black History Month) that will take it to, among many others, Morgan State University, Howard University, Virginia Union University, Winston-Salem State University, Johnson C. Smith University, Clark Atlanta University, Jackson State University and Grambling State University, as well as some high schools along the way.

— John Eggerton