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Interactive TVs to Debut in Living Rooms Next Year

Last week, interactive television developer TeleCruz Technology and Zenith announced a product development agreement intended to integrate TeleCruz's technology inside Zenith's multimedia television platform. The two companies claim this will result in the first generation of integrated interactive television sets.

Planned for availability in the first half of 2001, the first implementation of TeleCruz-enabled Zenith televisions, the companies say, will offer consumers access to interactive TV services such as e-mail, chat, Internet browsing, and shopping without the need for an additional set-top box. Zenith says that the new TVs will be introduced at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January of 2001.

TeleCruz claims to have developed an open-platform, system-on-a-chip architecture that is capable of supporting interactive capabilities being created by advertisers, content creators, and broadcasters. TeleCruz says it is also working with other television manufacturers, as well as ISPs and interactive content providers, such as AT&T, EarthLink, Yack.com, and Spiderdance.

Prognosticator Jupiter Communications forecasts that interactive television will reach 27% of all US households by 2004—an estimated 29.4 million households. Additionally, Forrester Research predicts interactive services could generate as much as $7 billion in e-commerce revenues by 2004. Zenith is hoping to get into this market early. The company's Richard M. Lewis explains that "along with TeleCruz, we are pioneering the future of interactive television. The TeleCruz platform allows Zenith to offer consumers the combination of television viewing and interactive Internet content for a seamless multimedia experience."

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