The original founders of TiVo are starting a new business venture called QPlay. It's an adapter for streaming TV reminiscent of the plug-and-play ease of Google's Chromecast dongle and app set, but with the all-under-one-roof simplicity of a set-top box. Plug the QPlay box into your HDTV, plug the USB-connected power cord into a wall outlet, fire-on your -- iPad only, apparently -- and you're ready to stream some video and Internet TV from a variety of services, which will possibly include Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube, and so on.
The news comes by way of an FCC filing spotted by Zatz Not Funny and relayed by Gigaom. The FCC filing mentions only an iPad as the control device for QPlay. After powering on the connected device, a step-by-step configuration procedure appears on the TV screen until you see a "blue circle" onscreen, at which point you open the QPlay app on your iPad and kick back to some video. Hopefully this is only a beginning and the backing company, Invisioneer, will roll out compatibility with iPhones, Android devices, Windows and other operating platforms.
As the QPlay system is described, you should be able to combine all of your disparate streaming video services into the app. By contrast, Chromecast functions through a whole slew of apps, which by comparison can be seen as an unwieldy method of casting media to your living room display. With QPlay, the company works out all the partnerships for you behind the scenes and you'll only need the QPlay app to run video from all your services.
The device itself looks to be about 6 cm wide by about 12 cm tall -- about the size of a large smartphone. That's bigger than the thumb drive-size Chromecast dongle, but a bit smaller than, say, a Roku box. It appears to be sized for you to throw it in your purse or man-purse and take it elsewhere -- which could be a clue that the device will be intended for mobile carryout to anyone's HDTV, not just your own.
No word yet when the QPlay device and service will appear, but the FCC filing should be a clue that it is on the horizon, if not closer. As you can see in the image gallery above (courtesy of the FCC filing shots), the device is already designed and produced at least in prototype form. The venture has some industry heavy hitters. As mentioned, TiVo founders Michael Ramsay and Jim Barton are the wizards behind the Invisioneer curtain here. Gigaom reports the company has hired engineers from Apple, Google, Linden Lab and others, and has received venture backing from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. The upshot here is that the project has enough muscle to elbow its way into the set-top box and streaming media wars -- and possibly right into your living room, should you choose to accept.