Chances are you’ve got a screen in your pocket and a screen in your living room, and as time goes on more and more companies are trying to find ways to make the two play nice together. The latest entrant in the field is a Chicago-based startup called AirCast Mobile is taking a stab at bringing the phone-television content gap with an app called AirCastLive that lets users remotely send their videos to televisions for viewing.
“But wait,” I can hear you mentally murmuring. “Can’t I already do this with Miracast and Airplay?”
Well, yes and no. There’s no denying that televisions and the devices around them are much, much smarter than they used to be and those two options are largely peachy as long as you’re within range or on the same network. AirCast’s draw is that you don’t actually need to be anywhere that television to get content onto it, as long as you’ve got a decent cellular connection.
The big caveat? You have to have a Roku or a Google TV box lashed to your television to make it all work. You see, each Aircast user’s TV gets a unique (but customizable) ID that they can plug into the companion iOS or Android app. Once those people have the Aircast app installed, the process of shooting video or snapping photos and sending them along to that linked television doesn’t take more than a few taps. Once the intended recipient has installed that AirCast app on their media box of choice, they get a notification that a new video has arrived for their perusal.
To hear founder and CEO Mike Linhardt tell it, it’s a video experience that’s much more akin to messaging than what people may be used to, and that’s just fine.
“The television has largely been a passive device,” Linhardt, a mobile TV veteran, said. “There’s no real interaction between you and your TV.” Phones on the other hand are constantly checking and updating and buzzing with new content, and Linhardt’s vision is to make that sort of content experience possible in living rooms. The team’s been at it for a while now, too — they have received two infusions of seed funding over the past two years or so. the first helped the fledgling company get off the ground, and more importantly, cobble together some consumer-facing products to launch as a sort of dry run for today.
Google TV boxes and Roku are only the first beachheads that AirCast has established, but it’s already gearing up to expand its reach beyond those boxes. Linhardt confirmed that the team has been in talks with a particular smart TV manufacturer about a pre-loading agreement that would see new set shipping with the video app onboard. I’m told it was already a done deal, though I couldn’t get him to give up the name of the company they’ve partnered up with — they say its a “notable” player in the place, but we’ll see how it actually pans out.
Still, it’s not hard to see why purveyors of new televisions are interested in fleshing out their software stacks — it’s often the easiest to differentiate themselves from the rest of the (terribly crowded) pack.