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PT Inovação looking for the fusion of TV with social networks

Along with the Codebits presentations and programming contest, several SAPO partners also show their recent innovation projects and equipment, inviting the development of new ideas and showing the news that can eventually materialize in commercial products and services.

Microsoft, with Surface, and Caixa Mágica with the development for Android and Linux in Magalhães, are two of the examples, which is joined by PT Inovação, also a regular participant in the SAPO event.

This year, the PT Group’s “innovation arm” brings to Codebits three projects that may bring news to the Meo platform, based on optical fiber, two of which merge concepts of social networks with the IPTV platform.

Still in proof of concept is the solution of virtual HomeGateways, which aims to relieve PT’s costs with the travel of technicians to solve problems at customers’ homes and also bet on set-top-boxes cheaper.

The system is based on the idea of ​​remote services, where the users’ information regarding the subscribed channels and also the recordings made can be stored in a central repository, leaving the set-top-box to move to the cloud.

Vitor Pinto, one of the researchers involved in the project, highlights the possibility for the user to keep preferences kept at home when going on vacation and the possibility that opens up new business models and expanding services by increasing the processing capacity that can be attributed to each customer.

Also designed for Meo, MAD (Media Agregator and Distributor) wants to give access to the image and video files saved on DNLA or UPnP devices and make them available to the user on the TV screen, allowing them to be shared with friends from services like MSN. The placement of images online, in services such as SAPO Fotos and Picasa is another possibility offered by this service, as explained to TeK Hugo Dias.

The sharing of references and votes on TV programs is the basis of the idea of ​​the Pétala project, which is also designed for Meo and can be integrated directly with the Electronic Programming Guide (EPG) or with other services. Frederico Cerdeira, from the University of Aveiro, explains that this product recommendation can also be transposed to social networking services such as Facebook and Hi5, for which widgets have already been developed.

Scratch synchronized with Lego

The link between PT Inovação and SAPO in the adaptation for Portugal of Scratch, the programming tool for children, made the company also reserve a special space for this project, showing how it is possible to interact with other tools outside the computer.

Scratch

The interaction with Lego’s Wedo kits was the way chosen to show how ideas can overflow the computer platform, in this case a Magalhães. With simple programming in Scratch, from a game like Mastermind, it is controlled by an Android phone and allows to operate the mini-robot to physically access the laptop keyboard, “covered” with Lego, as shown by Fernando Miragaia, one of the researchers involved in this project.

With the same philosophy, PT Inovação connected yet another mini-robot to the computer, using Google Voice’s voice recognition interface to transmit commands, also using a sensor board, Picoboard, to manage the movement of a fan, also programmed in Scratch.

Fausto Carvalho, from PT Inovação, is involved in the SAPO Scratch project and admits that it is still taking its first steps, but that there is already a community of interested users, with many hundreds of students submitting projects on the Portal, also knowing themselves that this number expands with other users who do not submit projects.

On the teachers’ side, there is also a more dynamic group, with the highlight of the teacher Teresa Martinho Marques, who recently did her master’s degree in this area and who has been organizing some voluntary training sessions so that teachers can use this tool within their classes.

Editor’s Note: The news was changed in reference to the Home Gateway project. Contrary to what was initially explained, this service is not based on the principle of cloud computing. The lector’s note was referenced, and the information was verified with PT Inovação, due correction was made.