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SIRIUS Backseat TV: Technology to Product

"Are we there yet?" -- The perennial cry from the back seat that strikes fear into parents on long road trips. I remember a long ride home from Cape Cod with our toddler daughter crying the entire time, except for a half hour time-out for lunch and play in a small park. As the kids grew older we were able to get some peace with a portable tape player, and then graduated to the Nintendo Gameboy -- only to have a huge crisis when the screen broke before a trip and we had to rush to get it repaired.

These days, of course, you can equip each child with a music / video player, or game machine that also plays movies. Even better, you can buy a car already equipped as a mobile theater, with iPod jacks, DVD player, and video screens for the back seat. But parents still bear the burden of planning and organizing the entertainment, and a trip still can be ruined if you leave a favorite DVD at home.

The folks at Sirius Satellite Radio's advanced development team in Lawrenceville, N.J. had a better idea -- add video to the existing Sirius radio service to deliver your kids' favorite cable TV experience directly to the car.

From an early concept demo in January 2002, the resulting product, Sirius Backseat TV, was announced at an event in Times Square in March 2007, hit the streets on 2008 model Chrysler vehicles in October 2007, and shipped as an retail aftermarket product in March 2008 to add the Sirius radio and TV service to your car.

The service features three channels of live TV, available 24/7, from the top family networks -- Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, and Cartoon Network.

The Sirius Backseat TV service is $6.99 per month, as an add-on to the Sirius Satellite Radio subscription at $12.95 per month. Adding the service to a new Chrysler vehicle costs $470 with Sirius Satellite Radio and the Rear Seat Entertainment System, plus the first year of service. The new aftermarket product, the SiriusConnect Audio/Video Tuner, model SCV1, is $299.

The Sirius engineering team performed some amazing magic with the Backseat TV product -- They squeezed the video channels into the existing satellite radio bandwidth allocated to Sirius without affecting the radio service. The kids in the back seat can watch the live TV, while the parents in the front seat can enjoy the full Sirius radio experience.

The product was developed by a core team of some 20 people, including a large ex-pat contingent from local companies including Sarnoff and Hitachi. They started with concept demos and prototypes, and then developed the end-to-end process and productr, from inserting video broadcasting into the satellite radio transmission to pulling a reliable signal out in a car zipping along a highway.

See full article: SIRIUS Backseat TV: Technology to Product

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This entry posted on April 20, 2008.

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