Date posted: July 25, 2013
Written by: Rob Witman

Chromecast – part way there

We were pretty excited to see the announcement from Google yesterday about their new Chromecast device.  If nothing else, it is yet another big company that believes in the connection between your television and mobile phone.  Not only does Google believe in it, but they have been willing to try numerous iterations on the concept.  Make no mistake either, these are serious efforts.  Bringing a hardware product to market is nothing like putting up a website with some beta software.  The time, risks and money involved are all exponentially higher.  Yet Google, traditionally a software company, has invested in the idea, not once, not twice, but three times over the last few years.  If that doesn’t display interest in an emerging market, I don’t know what does.

Ironically, we had spent quite a bit of time last winter building out the specs and bill of materials for a very similar device.  We had even looked at a similar form factor for our device, seeing it as a dongle that you would attach to your television.  The biggest differences from what we designed were the video pass through and overlay capabilities.  While directing your TV to display a video from a website is cool, and the Chromecast appears to do this very well, we have always envisioned a closer relationship between the television broadcast and the content you care about.

Our device, code named ‘Overplay’, was all about overlaying content on top of the television broadcast, not replacing it.  The Xbox One most easily demonstrates this with its NFL Fantasy Football application.  (We have a working prototype of this for Google TV but strangely the NFL was more interested in talking with Microsoft than us J)  In this concept, you are free to consume the media that you want on your TV, but rather than continually seek out a second screen for other content, such as social feeds, email or in this case fantasy football scores, that information is presented to you on your TV.  We believe this is the future of ‘smart tv’ and it looks like others agree. 

While the Chromecast doesn’t fully realize our vision, we think it is a terrific start.  Kudos to Google for putting the time and effort into this venture and in doing so, showcase a little bit of the future ahead for the world of connected devices.