updated 05:50 pm EST, Wed January 18, 2012
Set-top could bring Internet without PC to masses
Researchers at HP's labs in India are showing off a prototype for an intelligent set-top box that could bring Internet browsing and web-based TV to the millions of Indian residents. The Vayu Internet Device (VInD) lets people receive Internet content on even basic TV sets and manage all screen operations using a basic TV remote control. The device has been designed with the premise that most Indians can't afford a computer, the Internet access, and services that a PC could provide.
The VInD runs Linux. It carries just 1GB of built-in RAM and 8GB of flash memory, but the light OS footprint helps mitigate the limited space. To this can be added up to 300GB of hard disk storage. Expansion on the Vayu includes USB, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and Bluetooth. TV connections run through HDMI or regular AV ports. It has a built-in microphone and speakers, and supports a conventional PC mouse and keyboard.
Functionally, the VInD will provide many services. Personal photos, videos, music and documents can be stored on the device's drive, tagged, and then shared with other individuals who have similar set-tops. It can be paired with a Bluetooth-enabled phone. Users can create a contact list to be shared with others. It can also be used for video conferencing wit ha camera.
The VInD is rare in incorporating a ZigBee-based wireless sensor network. This lets an owner deploy other sensors throughout the home to detect motion or to turn an appliance on or off.
HP envisions a "task genie" for the set-top. This is a store similar to the Apple App Store or Android Market, where the owner can find and download apps.
HP has yet to decide whether or not to productize the VInD. The bill of materials for the set-top is approximately $100 USD, making it one of the least expensive new desktop-like PCs available. [via The Times of India]