Orb moves beyond TV into photos, music

Tech Culture

Orb Networks was part of the TV class of 2005 at the Consumer Electronics Show. Like Sling Media and others, Orb introduced a product promised to let users view TV programs recorded at home on a remote computer. If you're on a business trip, these companies promised, you can watch TV from home on your laptop. You could even watch TV shows from home through your laptop in a hotel while on a business trip, they all promised.

Of course, if you're in a hotel room, you probably have a TV anyway with a lot of the same shows, but that's no matter: it was cool, the companies claimed.

TV, though, turns out to be only one application for Orb. The company's grand design is to let people view media files--photos, video, music--on a variety of devices: notebooks, cell phones, PDAs, etc. The secret sauce is the fact that almost type of file can be ported to any device.

"On a cell phone, you don't want an 8MB file," said COO Ted Shelton, during an interview at the AlwaysOn Conference at Stanford University this week.

The main limitation is that the media transferred on the company's software should be legal. Hence, you can listen to the music (or watch the TV shows) stored on your PC on your cell phone, but you can't let a friend log into it. You can let outsiders only look at non-commercial material, i.e. the photos on your PC. (A feature that will let users watch your home videos comes out in a few weeks.).

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