Beijing Startup Develops Web Media Player for TV

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A fledgling software developer in Beijing has developed an embedded application that it hopes will bridge the gap between PCs and consumer electronics, allowing users to easily play computer video and audio files through their televisions and stereos.

Called Nth Code Player, the application was developed by Nth Code, a start-up company founded by CEO Peter McDermott], an American programmer and entrepreneur who lives in China.

"We're out talking to partners and potential customers to try to get that first deal that will help us get this to market," McDermott said.

Nth Code Player can be integrated with televisions or DVD players equipped with a Wi-Fi connection. The software automatically discovers computers and other devices on the network with shared media files, and allows users to browse and play them. No special software is required to be installed on a PC for Nth Code Player to work.

With Nth Code Player, Nth Code aims to enter a market already crowded by industry heavyweights, such as Microsoft, Sony and Apple. Making inroads won't be easy for a startup, but the simplicity of Nth Code's approach could appeal to some companies. So far, the company has yet to find a customer for Nth Code Player, having just started knocking on doors in a bid to win interest from hardware makers, McDermott said.

"There are a lot of companies making DVD players, televisions and set-top boxes, and I think these companies would like to have these kinds of capabilities integrated into the products they are already selling," he said.

Nth Code Player uses the open-source WebKit browser to link users to the Internet, allowing them to play or download files available from sites like Miro Guide. Users can also subscribe to media from such sites using Nth Code Player's support for RSS and BitTorrent, McDermott said.

While demand for digital content has exploded with the proliferation of broadband Internet connections, demand will only increase in the future. "The trend is a lot of this media, whether it's video or music, is now being distributed over the Internet," he said.

In a demonstration video posted to YouTube on Monday, McDermott showed Nth Code Player running on a Beagle Board, a small motherboard that's based on a Texas Instruments OMAP 3530 processor. The software was shown playing back a 720p high-definition video, although it is also capable of 1080p video playback.

The idea for Nth Code Player grew out of the personal experience and frustrations McDermott and his Chinese development team found with content downloaded from the Internet.

"We don't really watch Chinese television to get all of our information. We download a lot of stuff from the Internet and it sits on the small screens of our computers," McDermott said. "We'd really like for it to be on the big screens of our televisions."

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