Libertyville-based Motorola Mobility is licensing the Reference Design Kit from Comcast Corp. This software platform will take the set-top box to the next generation of Internet-based services, meaning it will communicate with your smartphone and other devices in your house.
It also will provide more easy-to-use program guide and other interface changes, said Rob Folk, director of product management at Motorola's Home Devices business.
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"This arrangement is intended to enable participants in the cable industry to build products faster and offer more standardized interfaces that can provide more applications and features," Folk said.
The Comcast software bundle provides the so-called framework for IP or hybrid set-top boxes and video gateway devices used in the home. It also can access vide services that are cloud-based, including Video on Demand and offer richer graphics and better functions. The package also will help other vendors create more features in the future, Folk said.
He said you should think of the Comcast software as middleware, or a new platform, that delivers new features for customers. The combination of Motorola set-top box equipment and the Comcast license is expected to further the any time, any where, any screen experience, said Folk.
The deal with Comcast was announced last week, but Folk declined to say when those new set-top boxes would be available for subscribers.
Besides the Comcast deal, Motorola Mobility also has its own portfolio of software licenses for set-top boxes used in the cable industry, Folk said.
Surfing: Kirsten Goede, a longtime jewelry designer in Chicago, has created the JackGems line of tech jewelry. A JackGem is a Swarovski crystal-encrusted plug for your smartphone or tablet and costs $26 each at the website, www.jackgems.com. The collection features 10 colors and one patriotic stripe: red, white and blue. It fits any universal 3.5mm phone jack in most smartphones, iPhone, iPod, Android, iPad or BlackBerry.
• ComEd customers can now use a Facebook app available on ComEd's Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ComEd). It allows you to report power outages and check the status of an outage. At the site, click on the "Report an Outage" icon and enter the same login information used on ComEd.com. Let ComEd know about any outage and return to the app to check the status of the outage as well. ComEd said it's the first public utility in the country to offer this capability through Facebook.
• The Chicago Sky has a new free app for mobile devices with the latest news, scores, game schedules, pictures and official content from Chicago's WNBA franchise. It's available for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch in the App Store.
• Skokie-based Rand McNally has launched "Play the Election," a free online tool that teaches students about the 2012 presidential election and election process through games, resources and competition. While students are learning about electing the president, they can write to him with their concerns in a new essay contest open to 7-12th grade students ages 13 to 20 years old, entitled "Dear Mr. President."
•Follow Anna Marie Kukec on LinkedIn and Facebook and as AMKukec on Twitter. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.