Sigma appoints Mediaroom IPTV exec to board

Michelle Clancy | 27-12-2013

Sigma Designs has appointed Mediaroom exec Pete Thompson to its board of directors.

Thompson previously served as corporate vice president of Microsoft's IPTV division, Mediaroom, until its purchase by Ericsson, where he now serves as the vice president of Ericsson's Mediaroom division.
Thompson is also responsible for the development of the Natural User Interface with Microsoft Surface, and led the Xbox LIVE initiative.
"We are very excited to have Pete joining the board of directors," said Thinh Tran, Sigma's president and CEO. "Pete has a great reputation in our industry and will bring proven leadership experience and a diverse industry background to our board to help drive our growth strategy in parallel with our continuing restructuring efforts."
Sigma, a provider of system-on-chip (SoC) solutions for home entertainment, connectivity and control, kicked off a broad corporate restructuring plan in late 2012 with the goal of returning to profitability. The estimated impact of the restructuring plan is an aggregate cost savings of approximately $45 million in fiscal year 2014, through headcount reduction, reduction in operating expenses and a migration to lower-cost manufacturing components and processes.
"Our restructuring efforts ... are designed to align and scale our workforce and our other expenses with our markets, products and financial plan," said Tran. "We have developed a meaningful restructuring plan that is comprehensive and includes adjustments in all functional areas of our company and regions in the world."
Thompson added: "I am delighted to join the board of directors of Sigma Designs. "I have always admired Sigma for its technological innovations and its reputation for delivering industry-leading solutions. I am excited to help the company capitalise on its strategy and deep technology portfolio at such a transformative time for both the company and the industry."
Tribune to buys Gracenote for $170Mn
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Tribune Company is buying music metadata leader Gracenote from Sony Corp for $170 million. It palns to merge the company into Tribune Media Services (TMS), which provides television and movie metadata, for a holistic entertainment metadata juggernaut.
Gracenote is the largest source of music data in the world, featuring metadata for more than 180 million tracks, which helps power more than a billion smartphones and tablets, 50 million cars, as well as various streaming music services. Its database gets 550 million look-ups each day and more than 16 billion every month. The company also provides data and information for one million movies and TV shows to 30 countries and holds over 90 U.S. and foreign patents. TMS also reaches hundreds of millions of viewers through electronic streams of information on TV, online and in print.
"Gracenote and TMS are an ideal fit," said Shashi Seth, president of Tribune Digital Ventures, which includes oversight of TMS. "Both companies have substantial digital footprints and are well-respected leaders in their areas globally. Together we will become an even greater force in the global entertainment data business by servicing new and existing customers with better data, new products, and new services to help an evolving entertainment industry."
Avegant to show off immersive video headset at CES
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Virtual reality headsets are nothing new, but Avegant hopes to take the idea to the next level with the beta consumer concept of its virtual retinal display, dubbed Glyph.
The gadget is essentially a headset that integrates a video display and audio in a flip-down form factor. It has an optical engine that uses a low-powered LED, a series of custom optics and a micromirror array, which the company said produces visuals by the headset that are crisper and brighter than those from conventional display technologies. It supports a range of media consumption, from 3D movies to desktop environments to streamed television shows. Integrated head tracking also allows for immersive, responsive gaming that is compatible with all of the latest consoles and games.
"We've created a premium media experience that people can use with music, movies and games on any device they already own, including their smartphone," said Allan Evans, CTO of Avegant. "Integrating high-end audio with the Glyph and packaging it into a forward-thinking design is critical to a great experience."
The company is debuting Glyph at CES 2014 and consumer units will be available by Kickstarter on January 22 for $499, shipping later in the year.
Samsung, LG face off at CES with 105-inch curved UltraHD TVs
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Call it a battle of the Korean giants: Both Samsung and LG have announced that they will bring 105-inch, ultra-widescreen curved UltraHD TVs to CES 2014.
Both are LED sets with a 21:9 aspect ratio and 5,120 x 2,160 resolution, or 11 million pixels. That's 1.3 times standard UltraHD.
There are differences between the two: Samsung's features the same Quadramatic Pictures upscaling as its current UHD TVs, the F9000 Series. LG's entry meanwhile has an improved Thin Film Transistor (TFT) pixel circuit technology developed by its Electronics and Display Divisions.
Neither have announced prices or release dates, but consider this: Samsung charges about $40,000 for the 84-inch Ultra HD TV it launched at CES last year.
Pay-TV, Energy Department partner to boost STB energy efficiency
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The U.S. Energy Department is teaming up with green advocates and the pay-TV industry to boost energy efficiency standards for pay-TV set-top boxes by 10% to 45% (depending on box type) by 2017, which will save more than $1 billion on consumer energy bills annually.
The energy savings would eliminate the need for three power plants and prevent 5 million tons of C02 emissions per year, saving enough electricity each year to power 700,000 homes.
The Energy Department is partnering with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP), the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) on a non-regulatory initiative that will result in significant energy savings for more than 90 million U.S. homes. Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T and most other major cable, satellite and IPTV providers are also on board.
"These energy efficiency standards reflect a collaborative approach among the Energy Department, the pay-TV industry and energy efficiency groups – building on more than three decades of common-sense efficiency standards that are saving American families and businesses hundreds of billions of dollars," said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. "The set-top box efficiency standards will save families money by saving energy, while delivering high quality appliances for consumers that keep pace with technological innovation."
As consumer demand for digital video recorders and high-definition set-top boxes grows, actual consumer savings are likely to be even greater. The introduction of whole-home devices will also further reduce the overall energy footprint.
"In 2011, I urged the CEOs of every major television service provider to work together to introduce more energy efficient set-top boxes," said Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). "At the time, set-top boxes were costing Americans $3 billion in electricity charges each year—with $2 billion wasted when televisions were not being used."
The agreement, which runs through 2017, covers all types of set-top boxes from pay-TV providers, including cable, satellite and telephone companies. The agreement also requires the pay-TV industry to publicly report model-specific set-top box energy use and requires an annual audit of service providers by an independent auditor to ensure boxes are performing at the efficiency levels specified in the agreement. The Energy Department also retains its authority to test set-top boxes under the Energy Star verification program, which provides another verification tool to measure the efficiency of set-top boxes.
This non-regulatory agreement supports the Energy Department's broader efforts to increasethe energy efficiency of residential and commercial appliances and products. Under the Obama Administration, the Department has finalized new efficiency standards for more than 30 household and commercial products, which are estimated to save consumers a total of more than $400 billion through 2030.
TBS snags TV rights for the Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
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Even as it tops charts for box-office revenue, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, already has a cabel TV home to look forward to. Turner Broadcasting System has secured the network television premiere window for the movie, planned for a 2016 premiere.
The Desolation of Smaug is director Peter Jackson's second in a trilogy of films based on J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved novel. So far, it has brought in $127.5 million domestically and $403.8 million worldwide.
TBS and parent TNT are no stranger to Middle Earth. TNT debuted The Lord of the Rings Trilogy during the 2004-2006 time period. And, the first film in the current trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, will make its debut on TNT in 2015.
"TNT has been the primary television home to Tolkien's Middle Earth for nearly a decade, beginning with our network television premieres of The Lord of the Rings trilogy," Michael Wright, president, head of programming for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies.. "We're proud to continue our association with these extraordinary and enormously popular epics with the acquisition of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug."