Is Indrema Just a Dream?
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Sims: Tell me a little bit about the company. You're based in the San Francisco Bay Area?
Gildred: We're in Alameda, which is that island in the east side of the bay, and we moved from New York City where we originally started.
Sims: When did the company found?
Gildred: The company under the Indrema name was founded at the beginning of this year, but we were operating earlier than that. Actually, early '99 is when we started, but we were nameless until we finally settled on the Indrema name, which has stuck very nicely.
Sims: When do you think you'll have consoles out? When will people be able to buy these games?
Gildred: We're expecting to make them available by the end of this spring or early summer. The price point is a very aggressive price point, also. We want it to be competitive with the other game consoles, so we are targeting it at $299, and it's quite a piece of hardware for that price.
Sims: You mentioned a little bit about conversions. All these things are in the same box. You've got your personal TV recorder, you've got your game console, you've got your multimedia. I suppose there's going to be applications that come up from the mixture of these -- games that we're not seeing now.
Gildred: Yeah, we've envisioned some pretty interesting stuff. Obviously, you can take video games and you can use all the rich sort of next-generation 3D effects. But beyond that, since we encode TV, you can take MPEG-2 streams from live TV and you can embed those in games. So somebody who's sitting in a living room in an adventure game, that person in the living room could be watching TV and it could be actually what's really on TV, or could be changing the channels. So you can actually tape live TV and map it onto a texture in a video game space. Those kinds of things are really unheard of.
Sims: Another possibility maybe is doing a TV recording of the games you're playing and compiling a CD or DVD of your best moments in a game. That would be sort of an interesting application.
Gildred: You'd have to transfer it onto a PC and then burn it, since there's no burner in the Indrema console, but there is the possibility that someone could develop a software product that allows you to do something like that, absolutely.
Sims: Certifying games and other applications to run on the box is the center of your business model, isn't it?
Gildred: Yes, that really is our reason for being. It's first to establish a platform, which means that we have to create our hardware reference design and get it manufactured, make sure that it's affordable enough so that people can get to it fairly easily, and make sure that it's fully compatible with the software engine that is standard and open. That was something that was not trivial. Getting a high performance platform with a completely open development and game engine is something that really hasn't been done, so we had to do that since it was nonexistent. After that's done, we really just become the certifying body that makes sure that all the software written for the platform conforms to the standards of that platform and is compatible, and we also make sure that the manufacturers are building the products so that all the software will in fact run on those products.
Sims: Last question: It's clear that this is interesting and something new to early adopters and especially people who have a preference for open source technologies. This is something they're really going to look at and probably run right out and snatch up. What's your pitch to people who don't care about the operating system or who aren't involved in the software wars and are just going in to buy a console and yours is just sitting there beside Sony and Nintendo?
Gildred: Well, it's probably the same thing that I would say to myself if I was a customer in a store. I would want to hear three things: "Does it have the best games?", "Does it have the best performance?", and "Does it have a very interesting feature set that sort of goes beyond what we've seen in the past?" We definitely satisfy and push the envelope on all three. Because we're making content development so easy, we really expect to see innovation come on our platform before any other. Because we've innovated technologies like the GPU slide bay, you can upgrade the graphics chip every year at a price that is a fraction of what it would cost to buy a new game system. So you can get new performance every year, not every generation. In the past, generations have been three to five years, which is a real long time to wait for new graphics.
You get our functionality with the MP3 music management system, DVD playback, the personal TV system, broadband, browsing, e-mail and Web, and the high-end video game engine. You've got a huge sort of buffet of home entertainment functionality there that, once you plug it into your stereo and TV, you've really transformed your living room into something that does orders of magnitude more stuff than it ever did before.
David Sims was the editorial director of the O'Reilly Network.
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