Cisco Videoscape attempts to be single source of video

The Videoscape platform aims to tie together television, Internet video and personal video for users

Cisco Systems on Wednesday showed an offering that will give people a unified way of viewing video on TV's, mobile phones, and tablet computers.

The Videoscape platform requires several components, including a media gateway in a user’s home, a set-top box and software clients that extend the service to mobile phones, tablets and computers.

The offering ties together Cisco’s portfolio of technologies including those from its purchases of Scientific Atlanta, Linksys and Flip camera, said John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, during a presentation at CES in Las Vegas.

He hopes the platform will solve the complexity currently involved with managing video. "Today integrating my video is a nightmare even when I have a team of IT people helping me," he said.

In a demonstration of the products, Jim Grubb, chief demonstration officer for Cisco, scrolled through a menu on a television. He searched for "basketball" and found three columns of videos. The first included videos that most people would expect to find on their current television platform, including live TV and recorded programs.

The next column includes video that a user might subscribe to online. The final column is personal video that someone might have taken or received from friends or families.

Users can take a video using a camera like the Flip and plug it directly into the gateway -- a round device about half the size of a laptop -- which immediately displays the video on the television in the personal video column.

Cisco has also integrated its Umi home videoconferencing into the offering. That allows people to make video calls with other people on their televisions.

"Videoscape is about how you can have an infinite source of content. It sounds simple, but it’s not," Chambers said.

With the software on a device like a smartphone, users see a similar interface for access to their video services. It synchs with the gateway so when users open the software on a phone, it will display the same page last displayed when the user connected to Videoscape on the TV.

Cisco emphasized that Videoscape requires many partners, but did not specifically discuss which businesses might be involved. The company did mention that Australia's Telstra is supportive of new video services, however. Cisco also did not reveal availability or pricing details.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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