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TV-top technology 'the future of car sales'

Digital TV is set to change Britain's car buying habits and the way in which motor manufacturers market their products, an online commerce specialist predicts.

Berkshire-based Entranet claims it has developed a world "first" with a digital TV format that combines entertainment, video-on-demand and interactive shopping.

The company has produced a travel-based prototype which, it says, could easily be applied to the car market and says it has opened discussions with a number of car makers with a view to trialling similar systems.

DaimlerChrysler's Smart car features in Entranet's 'TAXI!' demonstration programme, which takes the TV-box viewer on a guided tour of London and offers purchase opportunities from a variety of brand names in the process.

Paul Hastings, Entranet's head of production, said the firm was keen to promote the capabilities of what he calls "lazy commerce" with manufacturers' brand advertising and marketing agencies. The company was not setting itself up as a car sales go-between, he said, but wanted to establish itself in the automotive industry by helping to enhance brand messages.

"These types of programmes demonstrate the future of marketing for the car industry," he said. "The viewer is able to access any number of car-related goods and services just by pressing a few buttons on their remote control. At the same time they are being entertained in the way that people expect from their TV."

Mr Hastings added that the format marked "a turning point and a fantastic opportunity" to reach consumers through the medium with which they felt most comfortable and, as a result, provide a massive boost to online shopping.

As an example of how Entranet's iDTV system could be used to benefit a car manufacturer, a consumer would be able to enjoy a favourite motoring show at the same time as downloading specific model research and price comparisons. The viewer would also be able to complete transactions via the TV-top box.

"We predict these programme formats will be running on British TV screens very shortly," Mr Hastings told AM-online.

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