Orange unveils Le Bloc

Pascale Paoli-Lebailly | 07-11-2013

Presenting its latest innovations at the annual Hello technology showcase in Paris on 7 November, Orange has unveiled new products and services dedicated to enhancing customers' real-time digital experience.

Last year, the key product was Livebox Play, which is now installed in 700,000 French homes; this year the masterpiece is Le Bloc.

Le Bloc is a mobile connected pocket projector or pico projector with an audio system. Once connected to Wi-Fi from the Livebox, this black box allows users to watch TV or screen video from any room in the house.

It can connect with tablets and smartphones to broadcast all types of content via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, even when no Internet access is available.

Le Bloc, the release of which is set for February 2014 at an approximate price of €400, has been conceived and designed with the French companies Awox and Cabasse - a symbol of Orange's ambition to open up to outside partners and innovating companies.

Open innovation has become a driving force, according to CEO Stéphane Richard, giving as an example the US experience with Orange Fab, first launched in the Silicon Valley. This initiative is currently set to extend to France and Japan, followed shortly afterwards by Poland.

Among new APIs introduced at the showcase is Wevideo, an online video creation service that allows users to create and manage videos online. Videos can be hosted in the cloud and worked on collaboratively, allowing multiple people to work on and edit them. Wevideo will be available in March 2014.

Open innovation is also taking shape with the LG G Flex 4G smartphone, a new mobile phone with an HD curved screen, claiming to offer a more immersive video experience. Orange will premiere the phone in France in early 2014 after inking a deal with the Korean manufacturer LG.

Other services announced include the mobile banking service Orange Cash which will roll out in France in mid-2014, starting in Caen and Strasburg. This service has been developed following the success of the Orange Money offer in Africa, where operators claim eight million users across 13 countries.