Vodafone’s Webbox was announced in February 2011 and uses a combination of the Android OS and Opera Mini web browser to bring internet browsing to existing TV sets in emerging markets. The physical product is essentially a PC-style QWERTY keyboard with an RCA cable to connect to most televisions. Vodafone has embedded the core of a basic Android smartphone within the keyboard itself.
The video above shows some of the on-screen experience, with fast access to browsing, email and media.
The smartest part of the design is the use of Opera Mini, which uses server-side compression to reduce data transfer by up to 10x, enabling useable browsing speeds even over slower 2.5G networks. Vodafone has also focused on reducing the total data transfer, making it affordable for pre-pay customers in emerging markets, and reducing stress on its network.
It picks up on two of the MEX Pathway themes: #1 (‘Define more efficient user experience techniques for an age of network austerity‘) and #2 (‘Research the implications of multiple displays and inputs within a single experience‘).