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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 September 2005, 09:22 GMT 10:22 UK
Amsterdam highlights media gizmos
By Ian Piper and Chris McWhinnie
BBC Monitoring, in Amsterdam

Mobile phone screen
Three channels are available in a TV to mobiles trial in London
Among the acres of TV cameras, large screen displays and promotional clamour of the International Broadcasting Convention in Amsterdam are some of the latest gizmos.

The following caught the eye of journalist and futurist Jonathan Marks, who hosted a session highlighting the latest ideas.

He said that good gadgets should serve a useful purpose and the better ones are made by manufacturers who listen to their users.

TV to the mobile phone, for instance, has been talked about for a few years. But a BT Livetime four-month pilot is delivering three TV channels, Sky News, Sky Sports and music channel Blaze, to suitable prototype mobile phones within the area encircled M25 motorway in London.

The service uses existing DAB technology. It is subscription-based and the projected monthly cost would be around 10. A full launch was expected in early 2006.

Emotional icons get a life

An engaging way to add fun to instant messaging online is a spin-off from Gizmoz's Talking Headz by computer graphics company Vizrt.

Vizrt character
Vizrt animated characters can be manipulated to be happy or sad
It creates engaging talking animated characters based on imported images in 3D.

Various backgrounds can be selected and the character can be made, happy, puzzled, angry or many shades in between.

Voices can be added with full lip-synch. There is a free-run option during which the animated character apparently takes on a life of its own. A version can be downloaded from the website.

Lost for words

The professional digital recording microphone, with a built-in broadcast quality flash recorder of 1GB is made by HHB of the UK.

The files in various formats can be transferred by USB. It can store up to 18 hours of sound.

It also has a 10-second pre-record buffer, so journalists would not miss a key moment by fumbling for the record button.

Customised screen themes

One-click icons, which make it easier to get information on Wap mobile phones, are the result of Next Device's new software. This makes it easy for a company or organisation to create an alternative theme or look for a mobile phone.

Consumers can chose to download it, just like installing a new ringtone. The themes can promote a film or a brand or any other set of related information.

The screens can also be built to show descriptions of what each icon does. Next Device was demonstrating this at the IBC's New Technology Campus.

Best of the rest

Pace PVR
Among the other products of note was a portable personal video recorder (PVR) from UK firm Pace.

Pace are promoting their new PVR 2 Go as payTV in your pocket.

The device has a 5-inch display with 40GB storage of programmes recorded from a subscription TV package.

The docking unit and charger includes a set-top box receiver with card slot. Battery life is three hours and the projected price is in the region of 250.

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