Swift Two-Way Transmission with telyHD

by R.E.Curtice

Skype is a proprietary application that works over the Internet and was originally created by Niklas Zennstrom and Manus Friis. Microsoft has owned the service since 2011. The service allows users to communicate with peers by voice, video, and Instant Messaging. Phone calls may be placed to desired people on the usual telephone networks. Calls to other users within the Skype service are free of charge, while calls to landline or mobile phones are charged. Skype has also become popular for its additional features, including video conferencing and file transfers. Skype has 663 million registered users as of September 2011.

Tely Labs was founded in early 2010 with the goal of turning a standard HD television into a two-way communications and entertainment center.In the home living room, and the office conference room, Tely Labs hope to revolutionize how people communicate and relate to each other. InsideRep met with Stephan Llber, Vice President of Marketing, in a suite in a San Francisco hotel. Stephan was dressed casually and had an easy-going manner that belied the fact that he was a marketing executive.

Why don't you start by telling us a little bit about telyHD.

Okay. telyHD is actually the first product of Tely Labs, and let me start by telling you about Tely Labs. It is almost two years old, being incorporated in January 2010. The two founders are Sreekanth Ravi, the President and CEO, and Sudhakar Ravi, the CTO, are actually brothers as well. They also founded Sonic Wall. Sonic Wall has to do with personal firewalls, high security and very big, big business at this time. They have many relatives still in India and they were using Skype to communicate with them. Skype on a computer doesn't work all that well because you had to talk and there was a limited view of the people you were talking to. They thought there must be a better way. They thought must be some way that everyone could participate rather than only one person at a time, they wanted a more immersive experience. How we could everyone together is actually how the product came about.

They wanted a Skype experience with our big screen HDTV, with a wide-angle lens, with a good microphone, that is an extension of our living room into the living room of our families. That is exactly what they did, and lo and behold two years later and a few hundred prototypes that didn't work they achieved success. Our product is one of the first devices that is fully Skype certified, and it is a pretty hard certification to get. Right now the application that is runs on our android platform is based on Skype kit on the network but we built the entire interface and made it easier to use on a TV because there is a big difference between an interface on a TV and an interface on a PC.

Controls are an important aspect of any communication system. How are yours different?

We also thought the controls through from an use perspective. You have to stick to very simple movements on the screen from the remote controller. If you want to keep it simple so my Grandmother can use it then you have to develop a seven-button remote controller, which we did. It can basically do all the functionality. You also have to think about the interface. What you see right now on television, what we call the "Baseball Cards", we had to redesign Skype and how people interact with it. Basically each one of the "cards" represents your contacts or a function you can do within the Skype interface. By hitting the card in the middle and pressing a button you start a call. It's as simple as that and if you want to end a call you hit the button to hang up. If I want to know more about that person I can hit the Up button and flip the card over to get more information about that person.

The whole concept was "make it simple." This meant we had to be creative with the seven buttons. When you first start with the interface we sort of give you "training wheels" which is an image of the remote controller and what you can do with the remote. We also gave the user the option of getting rid of that information after they had mastered the basics. In the beginning every single new device is intimidating to people so we tried to help them out with the initial phase. We also built some customization into the device but not too much. Just to make people customize the way they wanted to see the interface.

One example is filtering. I can filter my contacts and see all contacts online or offline or I can see only my online contacts. You can also signal your availability. One of the nice settings is we let you customize your background. The default is our corporate background. That is not everyone's cup of tea so we gave them several other backgrounds such as Winter, Spring, Summer or Autumn. Also if you have a picture you like you can use that as the background. You do that putting you SD Card in the back of the unit and it will show you what is on the card.

You must coordinate very closely with Skype.

We do. Since we the first one to get fully certified with Skype we have very strong ties with them. At CES we are going to be out in the parking lot with them. We also will have a suite in the Venetian and in the suite we are going to show one of the first application that is going to run on a platform besides Skype. Out platform is built on an android system and it can do a lot more than just run Skype. Our hardware is a lot more powerful. We have a platform in there that allows us to play video up to 1080p. This gives power like high-end gaming systems. This give us the ability to photo sharing. Think of the window you have for sharing you can put spreadsheets in there, you can put video in there. Say I want to watch video with my parents, we can do that and talk about what is going on. Everybody is talking about social TV, social gaming, social whatever, this a way to do this even though the people are a thousand miles apart.

In conclusion, why is your system superior?

It is because the other systems that work with Skype are proprietary, for instance Cisco Uni, which means that both sides must have the same equipment. So if you have a Cisco Uni whoever you want to talk to must have a Cisco Uni. There is the initial purchase price and a monthly subscription That is not true in our case. This is why we built our system on Skype and we took all of proprietary out of the equation. Chances are one of your friends or relatives is using Skype all ready and if you have our device anybody who has Skype be it on a cell phone, be it on a tablet or television can have video conferencing or video calling on a big screen. This means access to the Skype network is limitless. ||