UPDATED 10:59 EDT / DECEMBER 09 2010

Snapstick Brings the Web Video to Your TV with a Flick of the Wrist

snapstick-screenshot The mysterious Snapstick is coming to bring web video from your laptop, iPhone, or other web-enabled device to your television set. I say mysterious, because this startup intends to produce a product that will compete with Apple TV and Google TV and it hasn’t taken a distinct form yet. It’s not a set-top box and it’s not software, so what it is it? And why does this prototype product want to hype itself as competing against the two major Internet TV and set-top box services out there?

Here’s the CNET coverage of the “device” and some solid information about what it does,

But Snapstick isn’t itself a set-top box or software that miraculously siphons videos from the iPhone to the TV. At this early, private beta stage, it’s a software platform that can help your TV stream Web content like videos onto its screen. Although your Web-enabled device is important, it’s only as a convenient, familiar controller you can easily operate to browse and collect Web content from your favorite Web sites. The iPhone, laptop, and so on stands in for a specific remote or keyboard that’s common to set-top boxes like Roku and other systems like the Google TV.

Snapstick’s real argument is the software. One portion is responsible for streaming Web content to the hardware component that then pushes the content to the TV screen. A second portion communicates over a Wi-Fi network with whichever device or devices you deem the controller.

Although you can control the Snapstick software from any Web site, the team showed us an iPhone app that simplifies the process. Thanks to the accelerometer, you can also trigger the Snapstick software to start streaming Web content with a firm flick of the iPhone, the motion that gives the company its name.

It’s not clear why Snapstick wants to market itself as competing with Google TV and Apple TV when the technology itself won’t be offering any sort of streaming television or movies itself. Instead of being a component of a larger Internet TV service, Slapstick instead is a bridge technology that turns a set-top-box into a dumb terminal for a web-enabled device that can then control the TV by sending web video to it. That’s not at all that threatening to either of the services mentioned in the article. Except maybe that it would skip the step of using the set-top box to stream the web side of videos from free/subscription television video sites such as Hulu.

The product is portrayed, in fact, as a technology that will be embedded in DVRs, Blu-ray, and other set-top boxes—which could possibly mean inclusion in Apple’s and Google’s boxes.

There’s certainly a niche for this in the upcoming set-top box and Internet-enabled player market, possibly as a frill for various vendors to attach to their devices in order to give them an edge on competitors. As long as the interface is extremely simple—i.e. people wouldn’t flock to this unless the interface was as simple as flicking the iPhone (or hitting a button on the laptop) in order to stream the web video to the television set. If it takes a series of complex interactions, this ability would certainly lose its charm.

I know how many times I’d love to show something off to everyone in the livingroom on a big screen and this usually means taking the laptop out of my room and setting it on the table.

Snapstick would deliver this nicely.


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