Media streaming boxes such as the AppleTV, XBox 360, PS3, and products from Netgear, do a varying job of bridging the gap between the PC and television, as well as in some cases, delivering Internet content directly into the living room. But all are closed systems. The result of which is that users are left trying to hack these devices against the wishes of manufacturers (see our post ‘When will Steve Jobs open up the AppleTV?‘) or have to make-do with whatever official features are implemented. Bucking this trend, Neuros is taking a wholly different approach, and has open-sourced the firmware for it’s Neuros OSD media-center, meaning that anybody is free to write add-ons that extend the device’s functionality.
The Neuros OSD is a versatile box that can act as a Digital Video Recorder capable of recording from virtually any source (cable or satellite TV, DVD, DVR/TiVoTM, VCR, game console, camcorder, etc), as well as stream and share video, music and photos between various devices including home entertainment centers, PCs and portables such as laptops, iPods, smartphones, and the PSP.
Open letter to developers
As already stated, the key differentiator of Neuros’ strategy is that the company actively supports developers who want to ‘hack’ the device to create new features. Last April, in an effort to cash in on publicity surrounding the AppleTV, Neuros wrote an open letter to those that had already begun hacking Apple’s set-top-box.
We have watched with great interest as you have begun to hack the AppleTV, and we applaud your skill and willingness to make your CE devices play new formats, adopt new functionality, and have more capacity. With the quality of the people in your group, there is no doubt you will accomplish a great deal with this device – whether its creator wants you to or not…
Unlike other manufacturers who typically ignore or may even try to suppress or undermine your contributions, we at Neuros rely on them. Your contributions can get quickly incorporated in our official releases, and you will have a say in the creation of future generations of our devices and the ability to work side by side with our internal engineering team.
YouTube access — the first of many open-source efforts
The big news this week from Neuros HQ was that — thanks to the open-source community’s efforts — users are now able to search and browse the entire YouTube catalog directly from the device. The first version of YouTube support is, understandably, a bit rough around the edges, and has been released early in an effort to get feedback from users. Improvements in the pipeline include a better interface, and added functionality such as sharing and subscriptions.
Neuros says that this is the first of many new features we can expect to be added to the device, thanks to the way in which the company is working in conjunction with the open-source community.
Check out the YouTube video after the jump…