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Analysis - multimedia mastery on show at Milia 2001

Seeing is believing at interactive TV showcase

For most of us, the concept of interactive TV is being able to turn it off by remote control. If Milia 2001 is anything to go by, it is about to take on a new meaning.

Milia, the high-tech conference held in the south of France last week, was a showcase for those technologies that keep promising to break through but have so far eluded the average consumer.

Interactive TV was just one of those technologies on display. Broadband internet access was another long-promised concept bandied around Milia but which most of us have yet to experience.

But as the companies exhibiting were keen to show, these technologies are in place and ready to go. Where, remains to be seen, but everyone at the show was agreed: interactive TV is going to be huge – especially as the likes of Microsoft and AOL are trying to ensure they are very much a part of it.

Broadband content

Those lucky enough to have ADSL (that broadband thing BT's being slow about giving us) may already have watched animations and short films online. For the rest of us, it seems a number of companies are queuing up to provide content through TV, the internet and via mobile technology.

But it isn't just video-on-demand and iTV that will make up the broadband experience. Games companies are well established in this area, too. There was a lot of interest at Milia about where online gaming would go next, particularly as many such companies have yet to show a profit for their ventures.

But Freeloader.com, for example, expects to turn a (modest) profit in 2002. Visitors have downloaded more than a million copies of several of the games offered on its site.

More established means of games distribution such as CD-ROM were also well represented. New games this year include Black and White (Lionhead Studios), Anachronox (Ion Storm), Republic: The Revolution (Elixir Studios) and more from the Metal Gear Solid series.

One of the most unusual offerings was a three-CD set encompassing the life and teachings of Buddha. A dedicated team of 11 people spent three years studying murals on the walls of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok, and used it as a storyboard. Limited editions of this fully interactive software cost $500 each.


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