>> Wednesday, November 25, 2009
On the CD-i Forum an ex CD-i developer talked about his experience: "I was a CD-i professional developer. I started as chief engineer for a video-disc manufacturing facility where we were heavily involved with the automotive industries and military which were using laser discs for training. I developed recording technologies, including as an adjunct requirement interactive level 1 and 2 capabilities for video disc. We obtained the Philips CD-i Green Book standards as part of our development of CD/CD-ROM recording capabilities at the time and I was fascinated with Philips vision of a "standard" multimedia system.
When I left there, I started consulting and set up a company to do development of training for automotive companies in conjunction with advertising agencies. They were doing it all on touchscreen / computer / videodisc systems and I bought development systems for CD-i and introduced that to one automotive company. I created a "student course management" system which connected with their satellite-based in-dealer training network through the CD-i serial port and developed proof-of-concept training programs for CD-i and actually obtained and programmed for one of the first MPEG cartridges which hung off the back of the CD-I player with a big fan cooling it - I still have some of those original units. I merged with another development company as CTO and we ended up co-developing hundreds of CD-i professional titles (and a few small educational games as well) for Philips, Chrysler, GM, gaming systems for EDS, Sealy, Sears, etc....
There was rudimentary authoring available (Media Mogul) but I developed my own software using C/C++ on the platform as well as techniques for doing hi-color animations/etc. on the platform to achieve much higher performance in the applications which was a part of getting acceptance - we were able to largely duplicate and better the applications that were being done on multi-thousand dollar videodisc/touchscreen/computer systems on CD-i for around $500 per unit including the MPEG cartridge. These were put into thousands of auto dealerships (and eventually into lots of other professional applications).
We were very disappointed when Philips elected to exit the CD-i business (we were hoping for a next-generation system) but understood the decision. It is amazing that there is still to this day really no open-standard api/accessible/commercial system that can duplicate the functionality of CD-i in a simple package for a low price. I've done a lot of programming of digital signage using embedded linux systems as well with display chips/etc. - better video but the graphics/overlay/performance generally sucks unless they are much more pricey/complicated units."