Canvas Beckons Device Makers To Jump Through Its Hoops

The Project Canvas connected-TV consortium is asking consumer electronics manufacturers that want to make compatible gadgets to submit expressions of interest – but they must do so within a summertime window of just two weeks from today.

Though Canvas is describing the process as “expressions of interest”, it is asking device makers to attest to 26 “criteria” that demonstrate their experience, technical qualifications, resources and commitment for developing Canvas-compliant boxes.

Submissions that make it before the August 25 closing date “will be taken forward into a process to identify consumer device manufacturers to work with the proposed joint venture as device partners” – “the number of device partners taken on at this stage will reflect the resources that are available within the Project Canvas programme and engineering teams”.

This sounds a lot like Canvas will judge which companies can make Canvas devices. Opponents might say it’s hard to square the process with Canvas’ “open” promise. But there were always going to be conditions device makers had to fulfill in order to use Canvas’ eventual brand; this is the business of standardisation.

Though some info was available in the proposal submitted by the BBC executive to the BBC Trust (and the more detailed description the trust asked for in response), Canvas’ technical specifications are as yet unknown outside of the TV industry…

The BBC submitted technical specs for paid-up members of the Digital Television Group (DTG) in May and declined to release them in June under a Freedom Of Information request submitted by paidContent:UK. Project director Richard Halton says Canvas will be “releasing the final set of technical documents to the DTG this month”. Publication to license fee payers is expected this autumn.

It means those submitting expressions of interest will naturally come from the 152-strong DTG member list, including companies like Amino, Ant, Miniweb, IP Vision, NDS, JVS, Orion, LG (SEO: 066570), Pace, Hitachi, Pioneer, Philips, TiVo (NSDQ: TIVO), Sony (NYSE: SNE), Toshiba, Samsung and Siemens.

“We have set criteria to ensure that we are running a fair an open selection process and believe these will be helpful to manufacturers looking to understand the process for selection,” a BBC Canvas spokesperson tells paidContent:UK.

Assuming the project is not struck down by antitrust complaints, Canvas needs global hardware makers like these to express interest in what is a UK-only venture if it is to become a success.

As far back as December, the BBC was working with Thomson, Humax and Cisco (NSDQ: CSCO) on early specification considerations. Devices are now slated to launch in 2011. The BBC tells paidContent:UK there are around 100 people now on the Canvas team.