LG Electronics put the consumer technology industries on notice Sunday that it intends to levearge its webOS smart TV operating system to take user-interface (UI) directed operation and interaction to other connected devices and experiences.

LG said it wants to promote broad-based support and adoption of its webOS operating platform by third party developers through “even more accessible” use and support of the platform among startups.

The move was designed “to more actively advance its philosophy of open platforms, open partnerships and open connectivity,” according to internationally released announcements this week. It is also “part of a broader effort to make webOS even more accessible to today’s consumers and industries.”

To that end, the electronics giant entered a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with South Korea’s National IT Industry Promotion Agency (NIPA), which is a government body within the Ministry of Science and Information and Communication Technology. The signing will enable LG to solicit webOS business proposals “from hungreds of start-ups recommended by NIPA and shortlist the most viable ones.”

For the past several years, LG has been advancing the capabilities of their smart TVs and smart TV operating system to bring greater use and device interoperability to end users through a wide range devices and apps.

LG has taken a somewhat more open approach than some of its competitors in the smart device OS space.

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“While this initiative is going to start in South Korea, we see this growing around the world,” John Taylor, LG Electronics US communications and public affairs VP, told HD Guru. “Five years ago, when LG first aquired webOS from HP, we had a vision to significantly enhance smart TV as the most intuitive platform in that space, and that it would eventually evolve to other products.”

“We are doing some of that ourselves by implementing webOS into our smart refrigerators, for example, but we recognize that in order to really grow it needs to have the ability for developers to work on different applications,” he added.

Taylor explained that while LG is advancing its work on AI-based smart home connectivity and operation through its ThinQ platform, webOS is being developed and expanded on a parallel, though unrelated, track focused around the user interface (UI) rather than artificial intelligence (AI).

Taylor acknowleged that LG has encouraged outside developers to create apps specifically for its smart TVs, but this action is planned to “broaden the scope with the potential for other devices like smart watches and smart refrigerators, automotive applications and more. The sky’s the limit.”

The move is consistent with the “open” mantra that LG promoted at the recent CES 2018, where it underscored its desire to work in open partnerships through open platforms and open standards.

“We think this is the best way to really grow the market,” Taylor said.

LG said it will solicit webOS business proposals from hundreds of start-ups recommended by NIPA and shortlist the most viable ones to provide logistical and technical support with commercialization as the ultimate goal. With LG’s backing, startups will take part in international events such as Open Source Summit and OSCON to share their ideas and initiatives with other industry influencers.

Toward its goal of expanding the webOS global footprint, LG developed an open source version of its platform, webOS Open Source Edition, now available to the public at http://webosose.org.

Developers can download the source code free and take advantage of related tools, guides and forums on the site to become more familiar with webOS and its benefits as a smart devices platform.

LG pointed out that being a Linux-kernel-based multitasking OS with support for HTML5 and CSS3, webOS should be familiar to many developers.

“When LG adopted webOS for our popular smart TV lineup in 2013, it did so with the knowledge that webOS had tremendous potential,” said Dr. I.P. Park, Chief Technology Officer at LG Electronics. “webOS has come a long way since then and is now a mature and stable platform ready to move beyond TVs to join the very exclusive group of operating systems that have been successfully commercialization at such a mass level. As we move from an app-based environment to a web-based one, we believe the true potential of webOS has yet to be seen.”


By Greg Tarr


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