TiVo founders readying new TV adapter

In case Apple TV, Roku’s digital media players, Google’s Chromecast and the latest smart TVs, game consoles and Internet-connected Blu-ray players don’t strike your fancy, you may soon have another choice in getting Internet-delivered movies and videos to your TV.

A San Jose-based startup from TiVo founders Mike Ramsay and Jim Barton appears to have a new digital media adapter in the works that could be unveiled within weeksInVisioneer submitted pictures and a user manual of the new adapter to the Federal Communications Commission last week. All electronic devices that use radio waves require the FCC’s approval before they can be sold.

“Our passion is innovative products that people love to use,” InVisioneer states on its Web site. “In the past we disrupted industries to do what was right. We’re gearing up to do it again.”

Invisioneer’s FCC application pointedly requested that the agency leave private schematics, diagrams and an operational description of the device. So it’s a little unclear what, exactly, the device will do. 

But based on the pictures and owner’s manual submitted to the FCC, the device will have an HDMI port with which it can connect to users’ TV, will have a WiFi radio with which it can connect to the Internet and rely on an iPad for configuration and possibly as a remote control.

A description of InVisioneer on the Web site of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which has backed the company, also gives a hint at the device’s capabilities.

“We provide a better way to find and watch quality TV and Internet video,” the description reads. 

Job descriptions on InVisioneer’s Web site offer other hints. The company is looking for Web developers who can help “launch a next-generation media entertainment experience, integrate with video-centric and/or social media websites (and) … develop new ways for users to find interesting video content.”

“We’re building a compelling new way to discover and play media that will become an integral part of people’s lives,” the company says on its site. “The product is something you, your friends, and your family will use every day.”

Barton, formerly TiVo’s Chief Technology Officer, left the company last year. Ramsay, who served as TiVo’s first chairman and CEO, resigned as a TiVo director — his last position with the company — in 2007. The company they founded helped revolutionize the way people watch television by inventing and popularizing the digital video recorder, which allowed viewers to pause live television and made it easier for them to record programs for later viewing. But the company has struggled to capitalize on its innovation as other companies copied the DVR concept.

It remains unclear how much appetite there is for another digital media adapter in the market. Apple TV and Roku’s boxes have been modest successes, but Apple has famously referred to the former as a “hobby” rather than a major product line. Meanwhile, a growing number of televisions and all the major game consoles include the ability to access Internet videos without the need for a separate adapter.

H/T Gigaom.

Photo from the Federal Communications Commission.

Troy Wolverton Troy Wolverton (249 Posts)

Troy writes the Tech Files column as the Personal Technology Columnist at the San Jose Mercury News. He also covers the digital media, mobile and video game industries and writes occasionally about Apple, chips, social networking and other aspects of technology. Previously, Troy covered Apple and the consumer electronics industry. Prior to joining the Mercury News, Troy reported on technology, business and financial issues for TheStreet.com and CNET News.com.