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As part of The Cable Show 2012, we’re highlighting one of the recent trends in television: the development of apps (for both smartphones and tablets) that deliver, extend and enhance the viewing of TV.

We’ve seen apps that create social viewing, apps that let you watch TV on the go and apps that offer “second screen” experiences. Many of these apps been created by companies in the cable industry (notable examples include HBO GO and the Xfinity TV App), so we wanted to highlight some of the best.

Designed in partnership with DIY Network, the App Pond is the showcase at Imagine Park for newly developed applications that run on connected devices featuring the best in cable’s mobile media, branded entertainment, lifestyle and educational applications. Taking a page from the Boston Common frog pond, we’ve created a pond of our own.

Encircling the water’s edge, attendees are checking out a variety of apps from the following companies:

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This morning, we’ll kick off a blur of activity at Imagine Park, an expanded version of last year’s special venue The Park. It’s bigger and better and definitely a don’t-miss for the Show.

Located out on the exhibit floor, Imagine Park is featuring 10 hours of live demos and discussions about how cable’s recent waves of innovation. If you’re here in Boston, you can sit in the audience, but if you couldn’t make it, you can still watch it all live on the Web.

  • The App Pond is a showcase within Imagine Park for newly developed applications for tablets, smartphones, and other connected devices. This aquatic showcase will highlight the best in cable’s mobile media, branded entertainment, home and lifestyle and educational applications.
  • NCTA, in partnership with the Application Developers Alliance, is hosting a live, 48-hour student developer competition (a.k.a., the “hack-a-thon”). Student teams from MIT, Stanford, Rutgers, Wellesley and Pace will compete against each other and against the clock. An esteemed panel will judge the completed, functioning apps and award cash prizes to the top three teams during a special Imagine Park segment.
  • Start-up Alley will showcase a collection of local Boston-area start-ups developing exciting new projects in the TV and Broadband marketplace. Featuring powerful and forward-looking demonstrations, Start-up Alley will introduce new ideas and fresh thinking around the exploding broadband landscape.

Here’s a listing of all the discussion segments you’ll be able to see. (Check the website for times.)

  • Putting the You in UX: Media Gets Personal
  • Speed to Market: Enabling Faster Innovation Cycles
  • Evolve – Take 1: Pushing Products and Platforms to New Levels
  • Startup Alley: Inside Boston’s Thriving Innovation District
  • Control Freak: Natural User Interfaces Find Their Way Home
  • Smart Energy: The Power of Broadband
  • Second Screens: Making the First Screen Interactive and Fun
  • Is Cable Doing Enough to Keep Millennials? [Live Debate: Harvard vs. Columbia]
  • Customer Relations: Tools and Tech for Customer Convenience
  • Imagine App Challenge: The Finals!
  • Evolve – Take 2: Pushing Products and Platforms to New Levels
  • Ideas in Action: Driving Broadband Adoption in America
The Park: The Cable Show's Live Event Stage on The Trade Show Floor

Visit us at The Park - Booth #2231

Since I first mentioned our special exhibit floor venue The Park back in April, we’ve been very busy pulling together the topics and participants for what has shaped up to be one of the potential highlights of The Cable Show 2011.

Unlike most of the rest of our Show, this isn’t about traditional panels, but rather about shorter, thought-provoking conversations. In all, we’re producing nine hours over three days, all of which are being streamed live on the web, in addition to being viewed on-site by attendees of The Cable Show.

Each of our hour-long blocks is being programmed like a news show (Think of NPR’s All Things Considered), with each hour consisting of a series of short segments, all on a common theme.

The conversation in The Park will center on the dynamic changes that the cable industry is going through now which are transforming the customer experience. Cable’s existing hybrid fiber-coaxial infrastructure is proving to be robust enough to carry us into the future, but we’re also seeing new ways of delivering services to consumers.

Here is the schedule of topics we’ll be addressing from June 14-16:

  • Socially Acceptable: Community Engagement in a Socially-Driven Interactive World
  • Unplugged: The Mobile Extension of Cable’s Value Proposition
  • Ideas in Action: Partnerships That Drive Broadband Adoption in America
  • Consumer Voices: Digital Natives – Habits and Habitats of the Next Generation
  • Cable Bridge: You CAN Get There From Here
  • TV Everywhere: The Latest in Cable’s Anytime, Anywhere App-Focused Attitude
  • Consumer Voices: New Advertising Strategies & What Consumers will Find Helpful (or Not)
  • Network Nirvana: Achieving Harmony in Cable’s Connected Home
  • Problem Solvers: Innovating for the Greater Good

We’re looking at everything from broadband adoption and the use of digital technology to improve America’s educational system to streaming content to mobile devices and the role of social media in politics.

If you can’t join us in Chicago, we’ll hope you’ll watch the proceedings online. We’re looking forward to a vibrant discussion.

If you’ve been following developments for NCTA’s upcoming conference, The Cable Show (June 14-16 in Chicago), you might have read about a special venue we’re building out on the exhibit floor that will be called The Park. It’s an open-forum setting designed to put innovative ideas, products, and people in the spotlight.

Overhead view of The Park

Overhead view of The Park

Okay,” you ask, “but what is it?

Fair enough. This is a new venture – kind of an experiment – so let me be more specific.

The physical set-up is a stage and gathering place in a park-like setting on The Cable Show exhibit floor. During select hours, we’ll be presenting a lively mix of product demos, press announcements, mini-panels, and focus groups. All the segments will be streamed live on the Internet.

The Park is intended to be both an innovation showcase and a chance to explore new trends and services. It’s inspired by cable’s leading role in delivering advanced digital technologies, powerhouse content and innovative consumer experiences across multiple platforms.

After all, the Digital Age relies on broadband and that means cable.

View of The Park stage

View of The Park Stage

Potential topics might be interactive advertising, social viewing of television, online video, iPad apps, cloud computing, content convergence on mobile devices, multi-platform digital rights management, home monitoring/energy management, LTE services, and so on.

We’ve put out the call for people to submit their new products, services and ideas for consideration. Are you looking to partner with the cable industry? Is there something you think the cable guys need to hear? Let us know.

Top industry technologists, strategists, and PR gurus will consider your pitch. If they agree, you will have your chance in the spotlight to make your presentation.

Get started here: thecableshow.com/ThePark.

During The Cable Show, industry analyst Leslie Ellis held a discussion with Chief Technology Officers from various cable companies. The panel was called “Road Trip: Mapping Cable’s New-Tech Progression,” and it provided a useful view of forthcoming technology initiatives.

One of the themes was about managing the bandwidth of the cable plant. At one point, the topic of “IP video” (an often poorly-defined concept) was raised; the panel was asked if they planned to set aside spectrum specifically for this use.  Mike LaJoie, Executive Vice President & CTO of Time Warner Cable, responded that this was “a flawed way of thinking.” This notion, he argued, of “setting aside spectrum” for a specific application, such as IP video was out-dated.

“If you’re doing IP networking, you’re thinking about your spectrum in a different way,” LaJoie argued.  “What’s all of the demand [being made on the network]? What do I need, in what period of time, and how do I have to harvest it?” For example, perhaps they might segment some kinds of traffic aside in a separate DOCSIS channel, but perhaps not. Perhaps they might use PacketCable Multimedia to accomplish the Quality of Service, mixing voice is mixed in with data. But one would want to look at the big picture of managing the available resources.

This struck me as a key hidden theme of the net neutrality debate. Its proponents suggest that it all about consumers and their ability to use the Internet freely. But any provider recognizes that networks have to be managed. Net neutrality advocates are suggesting that the government ought to set up rules telling companies how to manage their networks.

The Cable Show: CIO.IT
The Cable Show’s annual CIO.IT program offers panel discussions and networking events that offer focused insight to IT professionals from every industry sector.

This year, the track featured the first-ever CIO.IT | Competition, a competitive program of solution-based presentations scheduled for the CIO.IT program.

The CIO judges have made their decisions: In what has turned out to be three very close races, CIO.IT Competition 2010 has three winners.

  • Cloud Computing: Shally Stanley, Acumen Solutions
  • Managing Subscriber Data: Simon Marwood, Scorecard Systems, Inc.
  • Successful IT Integration: Ramsay Hall, Research Engineer, planning and development, Georgia Tech

UDPATE: For more information, read the release on the winners.

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