Let's Give 'em Something to THX About

THX is working a new connect-the-world project, code named Blackbird. Having seen how easy it is for the general public to mangle their picture and sound with all the new toys they've been acquiring recently, Blackbird presents a solution for the three cardinal sins of home theater, by sending metadata in the form of control signals through HDMI to all Blackbird enabled devices in the chain.

Sin #1: Wrong Aspect Ratio: A Blackbird enabled player will recognize the aspect ratio on content and signal the Blackbird enabled display device to switch to it. Say goodbye to fat and tall people forever (oh, wait, that's the John Edward's health plan)

Sin #2: Wrong Video Mode: We could argue this one I suppose, but if you think sports should be watched in Sports mode and movies in Movie mode, then Blackbird can get it done.

Sin #3: Wrong Audio Mode: So you left your processor in Pro Logic IIx Game mode and now you've inserted a CD. Hmmmm. You get the idea?

How all this works is pretty fascinating. Imagine a movie studio knows that the disc you were about to watch was originally recording in two channel with no matrixed surround signal at all. If they put that information into the Blackbird's database, then your Ethernet equipped Blackbird-enabled DVD player would look in that database and then send an instruction over HDMI to your AVR telling it to switch to two channel stereo. So even if you had last set your AVR set to "Rock Concert," to watch a Pink Floyd concert DVD, the Blackbird system would set things right before you sat down.

Sounds pretty nifty, but it will require all devices in the chain to have Blackbird technology in them for it work. Just getting a Blackbird DVD player is not enough. So, we'll see if it catches on.