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Intel to integrate Yahoo! widgets into new TV sets

After years of false starts aimed at integrating Internet access into TV sets, Yahoo! is working with Intel to create Web computer channels that run alongside conventional TV programs.

The Intel-Yahoo! alliance will launch the “Widget Channel,” which will enable TV viewers to interact with and watch a dynamic set of TV widgets. A widget is a small Web-based application (a virtual button) that’s linked to specific Web content.

In this case, the widgets will appear in the corner of a TV screen and work something like a picture-in-picture window on the TV. These small windows will allow viewers to chat with or e-mail friends, watch videos, track stocks or sports teams, or keep up with news headlines or weather by using a TV remote control.

Widget TV services, the companies said, are being designed to run on a new class of Intel chips that enables HD viewing, home-theater-quality audio, 3-D graphics, and the fusion of Internet and TV features.

Devices based on Intel’s CE3100 chip are due out in the first half of 2009, Intel said. U.S. cable TV operator said in a separate statement with Intel that it planned to offer TV widgets next year that work on televisions, set-top boxes and other TV-connected devices.

“TV will fundamentally change how we talk about, imagine and experience the Internet,” Eric Kim, Intel senior VP and general manager of its Digital Home Group, said in a joint statement with Yahoo!

TV widgets can be personalized and display information from popular Web services selected by the viewer. The companies expect thousands of widgets to be developed.

Major brands set to offer TV widgets range from electronics makers Samsung Electronics and Toshiba Corp to content providers such as MTV and Showtime.

The Widget Channel runs on top of the fifth generation of Yahoo! Widget Engine, a software platform that allows developers to deliver snippets of the Web such as video, news or e-mail. Programmers can build widgets using popular software including Javascript, XML, HTML and Adobe Systems’ Flash.

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