An Interview with WiDi Evangelist Steve Barile

WiDi is an Intel technology that allows you to share anything on your PC or mobile device wirelessly on your television, in high definition, surround sound, and low latency, supporting interaction with your favorite apps and digital platforms. With Intel WiDi you can wireless display anything from your compatible Windows or Android OS devices to your compatible HDTV or projector, or by using a receiver device connected to your existing HDTV or projector, free from the burden of wires. Using a compatible Ultrabook™, Notebook, All in One, Tablet or Smartphone based on Windows or Android OS enabled with Intel® WiDi, or a Intel® vPro™ technology notebook enabled with Intel® Pro Wireless Display, a user can quickly and securely connect their device to a compatible HDTV or projector.

To enjoy the best Intel WiDi experience, Intel recommends using a PC with Intel WiDi pre-installed and a receiver certified for Intel® WiDi such as the Actiontec* Screenbeam Pro or the Netgear* PTV3000 or Dell M900HD mobile projector or an HDTV compatible with Intel WiDi such as certain models of LG*, Samsung*, Toshiba* and TCL* HDVs. The most recent list of the Intel WiDi compatible receivers can be found on Intel performs end to end testing for these devices to bring users the best possible wireless display experience with high quality audio and video, fast connect times, a stable connection and low latencies to enable users to interact with their applications and content and enjoy them on the big screen, real time. Intel® WiDi is also compatible with industry standards, such as WiFi CERTIFIED Miracast from WFA.

WiDi is definitely an exciting space, and WiDi evangelist Steve Barile is at the forefront of what’s happening in this ecosystem. Steve graciously gave some of his thoughts on WiDi in a recent interview.

Tell us about your background with WiDi.

I’ve been in the WiDi group for four years. I started with the task of receiver enabling. I took the program from a single v1 adapter to six v2 adapters. For version 3 we had a larger scaled out program including TVs, set-top boxes, and BluRay players. In the last nine months, I’ve been enabling software vendors to develop dual screen aware apps.

What are some cool things currently happening in the WiDi dual screen application space?

If an app is aware that there are two screens connected to the PC, like the tablet screen and a TV screen, it can operate in innovative ways.  The PC screen (laptop, tablet, or smart phone), which is usually touch-enabled, provides the end user an easy way to search for, select, and curate content. The typical modern TV screen is actually a large format HD monitor, giving viewers full screen content or even multiple videos at the same time. 

For example, MTV had a series of concerts this summer that were recorded by five cameras. The dual screen MTV concert app shows a thumbnail of all five camera angles on your tablet and you can choose which one to watch your TV.

Imagine a live sporting event that has a lot of cameras - a car race or football game.  There’s a producer in the studio creating a single feed for broadcast, drawing from some 30 different camera sources, but that means we only get to watch1/30th of the action at a time!  A dual screen application could provide a simple way to select one or more camera angles to view on a TV. The combinations are limitless and this is easily doable because the video content and supporting text based info already exists; it’s just a matter of repurposing the content.

Another dual screen apps idea is a “personal dashboard”, a graphically rich and smoothly animated presentation that shows on the TV your top stories on Facebook, new images from your Flickr groups, new pins from Pinterest, tweets, scores…  Shows images and stories from artsy web sites like Colossal or ColorLovers…  It could be a little intelligent and shows your next few calendar appointments, local weather forecast, and map local traffic. It doesn’t have to be silent either; background ambience could be from your favorite music or streaming radio stations from Pandora or Spotify, or queued Podcasts.  Imagine waking up to a sunrise from atop Maui’s Haleakalā Mountain on your bedroom TV from an alarm set on your Smart phone!  All this is easily configured on, managed by and created through your PC.

Why should developers pay attention to WiDi?

Research shows people already multitask while watching TV, dual screen applications are a natural extension of this behavior and is a new user paradigm in the living room. This new experience frontier coupled with the adoption of the Miracast infrastructure in both Window 8.1 and Android makes for a rick target market for ISVs and content providers.  Since Miracast requires no part of the application to run on the TV, any app developer can write a dual screen app with no involvement with the TV vendors.  No preinstalled TV apps are needed. The apps are 100% device independent.

 What are some APIs that developers can use, or tools that they can take advantage of?

There are really three different app target environments: Windows Desktop, Windows Modern apps, and Android.  Windows Desktop dual screen apps should simply use the standard APIs for working with a multiple monitor topology; the wm_DisplayChange message is your friend!  The Windows 8.1 Modern UI environment now supports dual screen apps. There is a new API and sample code on MSDN now. These APIs remove some of the complexity of dealing with two monitors under Windows DT. For Android 4.2.2, Miracast is built into the OS directly. On Intel platforms we made some enhancements and branded them as “WiDi”.  Android does not have native OS UI support for multiple screens. When the user makes the connection to the second screen they are left in duplicate mode which is useful to a degree.  But software developers can use the “presentation surface” to create extended mode dual screen apps. Regardless of the target environment, an easy way to experiment with dual screen app development is to develop and experience them using a second monitor connected with a long HDMI cable.

Where do you see WiDi technology going in the next year? The next five years?

The best thing I could hope for is that Miracast technology becomes ubiquitous and vanishes from the user’s point of view. It becomes expected to be on all platforms and fully interoperable.  How Intel benefits is that the more powerful the CPU and GPU, the richer the experience can be deliver to the TV.  

An exciting technology

As you can see from this interview, WiDi is an exciting technology that promises a wide variety of experiences both for the developer and the end user. Share your thoughts as a developer with us in the comments below: are you planning WiDi technology into future projects? What excites you about this technology?