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Harvard Int’l to launch ‘UK’s first HbbTV box’

Set-top box manufacturer Harvard International is to launch a range of internet-connected set-top boxes for the UK Freeview and Freesat markets based on the HbbTV standard.

Harvard International has teamed up with middleware specialist ANT to develop the platform for the View21 range of set-tops. The HD DVR box, set to be launched in time for Christmas, will at launch give access to YouTube, Twitter, Flickr and BBC iPlayer, according to Paul Fellows, chief technology officer.

The box, which will be a dual-tuner DVR with a Harvard-designed EPG, will be based on the ANT Galio TV connected services platform. In addition to the connected TV apps, the View21 will enable consumers to use iPhones and iPads as ‘companion devices’ to schedule recordings or view content streamed from the box. It will also enable users to ‘flick’ photos direct from their iPhones to the TV via the set-top rather than download them to a PC or Mac first. Fellows said that Harvard was also working on an Android application for Android-based devices.

“I wanted a platform where apps were developed by a very large pool and HbbTV seemed to be the answer,” said Fellows. “We will be the first to launch a mass-market HbbTV product in the UK.” He said that using the HbbTV specification meant that Harvard would have access to a much wider application development community than if it had developed a proprietary platform.

Referring to the delayed BBC-led YouView connected TV project, Fellows said that Harvard has been “looking to work alongside the YouView [consortium] and hoping to offer a product in that sector”. However, he said, the company also had to make sure it had a product to sell in the market now.