Advanced Television

Sezmi emerges from Building B

June 23, 2008

The mysterious 'Building B' start up that caused a stir at CES 2007 with its plans for an STB to seamlessly marry broadband video and broadcast TV, has emerged rebranded as Sezmi and announced that it will partner with broadcast stations to deliver part of its service using their digital spectrum.

The company, which received $17.5 million in funding from VC's Morgenthaler Ventures, Omni Capital and Index Ventures and was founded by Buno Pati, a former Harvard engineering professor and Phil Wiser, former chief technology officer for Sony America, planned to use wireless technology to deliver broadcast video, movies and Internet video to a next-generation set-top.

Sezmi has now disclosed that it has created a digital-video-recorder set-top box with 1 terabyte of storage that will link to a smart digital-TV antenna, and that it plans to partner with local broadcast stations and use their digital spectrum to deliver not only broadcast channels, but also 25-40 basic- and premium-cable networks to the box, in a “wireless cable” service reminiscent of failed DTV multichannel service USDTV.

The Sezmi set-top will also have a broadband connection that will be used to deliver less-popular and on-demand content in a hybrid transmission system Sezmi calls FlexCast. Wiser said the broadband connection can also be used to “push” content, such as personalized ads, to the box, which can be mixed with content delivered over-the-air, as well as to deliver popular Internet video like YouTube to the TV.

However apart from the names of its test parner local stations in Seattle and Las Vegas, Sezmi hasn't identified any ISP or telco partners or programming deals. It also won't divulge planned pricing, although Pati said it will be significantly cheaper than existing cable video packages.

At NAB the company did reveal a deal with Harris to build its network ops centre and with Tatung for the STBs

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