OCAP - Interactive Services over US Cable Systems
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Interactive TV usually means the viewer using the remote control to "interact" with the TV to change the presentation of video, audio or on-screen graphics in some way. These changes are typically made by an interactive software application running in the set-top-box or TV.

The purpose of this process is to enhance the viewer's experience by possibly showing additional information (the local weather whilst watching the Weather Channel), voting during a news program or purchasing an item during a favourite TV show related to that show. Screen shot of an OCAP interactive application designed by Starz

OCAP , the OpenCable Application Platform, is an interactive TV standard written by CableLabs and specifically for the US cable market. OCAP is Java based and is a derivative of the European DVB MHP standard.

Tru2way is the consumer brand name for OCAP. However this term was never widely adopted.

OCAP applications are delivered to home as part of the digital TV transmission. They are carried in an object carousel encoded with the video and audio packets in an MPEG transport stream.

The screen shot to the right is an example of an OCAP application designed by Starz Entertainment, LLC. This application is a bound application, in that it runs on a particular TV channel and is destroyed when the viewer changes channel.

ETV and EBIF - ETV Binary Interchange Format

ETV-EBIF is an alternative standard for interactive TV applications for US cable which proceeded OCAP. Whilst OCAP requires more recent models of set-top-boxes to run due to memory and CPU requirements, EBIF can run on much older, legacy set-top-boxes such as the Cisco (S-A) Explorer 2000 and the DCT 2000 from Arris/Motorola (and newer models after these).

ETV is a binary format, "ETV Binary Interchange Format", also known as EBIF. It is interpreted by a "user agent" which is a native application which runs on the set-top-box which is installed remotely by the cable company.

Whilst many Comcast homes are EBIF enabled the standard is being used less and the industry is moving towards using HTML5 for interactive TV enhancements.

Last Updated: September 13, 2010; Copyright © 2002-2010 UniSoft Corporation.