I am shown product demos in some of the strangest places. On Wednesday afternoon, I found myself in a Starbucks in New York City’s Grand Central Terminal with Rajnish, one of the founders of Althea Systems. Rajnish was in town from Bangalore and he wanted to show me Shufflr TV, his startup’s Internet TV application.
Shufflr is available right now as a desktop AIR app, but the company is also working on a simplified version for TVs and one for Android phones. In the video above, Rajnish shows me a demo across all three screens (using his laptop in place of a TV, but he did switch to a TV remote as you can see). There was a lot of distractions, including some screaming kids next to us, but Rajnish stayed focussed and powered through the demo.
Shufflr lets you browse videos from across the Web, and sorts them by recommended videos, buzz, or what your friends are watching on Facebook and Twitter. You can share, comment on, or bookmark any video. And The AIR app has this slick wall of video effect that would look great on a touchscreen. Videos are pulled from all over the Web, including YouTube, Comedy Central, and Funny Or Die. You can also browse by channel/source or by people. If you start following people, then you start to see the videos they share. It also suggests people with similar tastes.
Rajnish also gave me a sneak peak at Shufflr’s ten-foot UI, which is designed for regular TVs and can be controlled via a remote. It lets you explore different genres and zero in on what you want with related tags. Articles from the Web about particular shows could also be brought up, and it integrates with Flickr to bring your photos to the big screen. The Android app is the simplest of all, showing three different video feeds: friends, recommendations,and queue. The last one will works in conjunction with Shufflr’s browser plug-in which lets you add any video you come across on the Web to your queue (essentially a video bookmarking system).
As with every other Internet TV project out there from Google TV and Apple TV to Boxee, a lovely UI will only get Shufflr so far. It is screaming for more mainstream shows and movies. But the demo is instructive in terms of showing what a three-screen experience might one day look like. Althea Systems recently raised $3 million from Intel Capital.
Althea Systems is an early stage technology start-up with a mission to build products that demystify todays complicated multifunction consumer electronics by delivering a simple but engaging user experience.