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Why Project Canvas Will Revolutionise The Way We Watch TV

If you thought the BBC iPlayer is big, think again as project Canvas could well radically change the way consume video content by allowing users to seamlessly switch between video on demand and classic linear TV consumption.

The BBC Trust has already given its green light to project Canvas and detailed specifications about the platform should be in the public domain by the end of the the month.

Like Freeview, Canvas is expected to be an open platform and will go beyond BBC's iPlayer. Indeed, some are already saying that Canvas is the next logical evolution of iPlayer with many more channels and significantly more features.

One example provided by Canvas chief technology officer (CTO) Anthony Rose (reported by Digital Spy (opens in new tab)) is that of an on demand mashup where you're able to pull data in real time about a player on the field in a World Cup match.

The idea of embedding URIs (Uniform Resource Identifier) within videos is not something new, but the ubiquity of cheap broadband combined with the availability of incredibly vast data warehouses like Wikipedia or Google makes it far closer.

The fact that the service will be known as Youview, a portmanteau for Youtube and Freeview, illustrates this case perfectly. By blending the two approach, Canvas expects to deliver the best of both worlds, a traditional, curated approach and the wilderness of the internet.

The main obstacle however remains bandwidth or the lack of it; the more popular Canvas will become, the more bandwidth will have to be allocated to it and this could have a serious impact on quality of service.

Rose however says that Canvas could help service providers to reduce the cost of operating IPTV by making IP multicast smarter and allow more linear channels to be delivered over the internet.

This reminds us of P2P-next, that open source legal P2P-based platform, from February 2008 that had the backing of 21 partners across Europe - including the BBC and the European Union. Could P2P-next be part of Canvas and solve the bandwidth conundrum?

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.