TV viewing from your handset, not your couch

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 July, 2011, 12:00am


Couch potatoes need no longer be confined to the living room. A new device will allow viewers to watch free and pay TV on mobile phones and tablets anywhere, anytime.

A company set up by three professors from the University of Science and Technology is launching a gadget this weekend that streams television programmes from home though 3G or Wi-fi to mobile devices. Users will be able to watch programmes live, switch channels or record the content for later viewing on the phones or tablets.

However, the use of such devices could become illegal in a proposed government amendment to the copyright law, an academic warned.

The chief executive of Perception Digital, Dr Jack Lau, said the idea came after friends complained about being bored in the gym, saying 'it would be good if they could watch television' during their workouts.

The Wi-fi or internet connections also enable users to watch TV programmes while overseas during trips, Lau said. It works by connecting a device to the TV set and installing a free application on a mobile phone or tablet. Due to copyright concerns, only one user can watch the programmes outdoors through the application at one time, he said.

It will the first time a company has released such a product under a local brand - 3Bays - as many Hong Kong tech companies prefer to sell their products to bigger overseas markets.

Under a proposed amendment to the copyright law, an internet user who downloads and uploads copyrighted materials without authorisation in any medium could face civil liability. This will allow the government to prosecute people who upload copyright-infringing videos onto streaming sites like YouTube, said Dr Kevin Pun Kwok-hung, associate professor of computer science and law at the University of Hong Kong.

A person who uses the device may risk being a 'streamer', thus violating the bill, he said. The current law bans people from making additional copies of copyrighted content, except for recordings made for delayed enjoyment. Once people have watched the recorded material, they have to delete the copy, Pun said.